The Health Benefits of Mushrooms
Mushrooms are laden with nutritional goodness including Vitamin D aka the “sunshine vitamin,” B vitamins such as niacin, pantothenic acid and riboflavin, Beta-glucans, copper, ergothioneine, good fibre content, potassium, selenium and long-chain polysaccharides
These astoundingly powerful little fungi are a perennial favorite in the produce aisle amongst health-minded individuals as they are practically limitless in variety, eager sponges to soak up flavor and have innumerable health benefits including but not limited to
Anti-cancer properties Mushrooms have been shown to reduce the risk of certain forms of cancer. Selenium has the ability to protect women from bladder cancer. They also contain “aromatase inhibitors,” which may prevent the development of breast cancer in women. In addition, mushrooms contain certain compounds, still being studied, that show promise in halting prostate enlargement and prohibiting prostate cancer in men
Bone health Copper and Vitamin D both help maintain strong and healthy bones less likely to lose mass as one ages. Vitamin D, in particular, helps absorb calcium, which is critical for good bone health and can prevent osteoporosis
Diabetes help Mushrooms are incredibly low on the glycemic index and consuming mushrooms on a regular basis can help lower blood glucose levels
Digestive system health Niacin helps the digestive system function properly
Heart health Selenium is a mineral that works much like an anti-oxidant by shielding the body’s cells from harmful free radicals that could lead to coronary disease. Potassium helps regulate blood pressure. The relatively high insoluble fibre content in mushrooms can help lower and maintain healthy blood cholesterol levels. Anti-oxidant ergothioneine prevents atherosclerosis. Mushrooms are cholesterol-free, virtually fat-free and low in sodium, all news to cheer about for those concerned about their heart health
Immune system health Mushrooms are known to have strong anti-biotic properties and such modern medicines as penicillin and tetracycline actually derive from this miracle fungus. Because of their long-chain polysaccharides, selenium content and rare anti-oxidant ergothioneine, mushrooms have outstanding effects on the immune system such as fighting infections and decreasing inflammation. Riboflavin maintains healthy red blood cells and Beta-glucans are natural immune system boosters
Men’s health Selenium has been said to increase fertility in men
Nervous system health Copper, niacin, pantothenic acid and potassium all work to ensure a well-functioning nervous system
Urinary system health Selenium does wonders in maintaining a healthy bladder
Anti-oxidant properties Ergothioneine is a lesser-known anti-oxidant that protects the body’s cells from free radical damage. Cremini and Portobello mushrooms, in particular, are extremely high in their anti-oxidant prowess. Anti-oxidants will strengthen your hair follicles and make you less likely to experience split ends. They make the skin more supple and elastic and the nails strong and resilient.
Nutritional intake Mushrooms are extremely low in calories, ranging between 15 and 42 calories per cup, dependent, of course, on the variety of mushroom. They are also completely fat-free, cholesterol-free and quite low in sodium. Rich in fibre and readily absorbent of flavor, they are a fantastic means of sating your hunger and taste cravings while making your belly feel full. Their decent fibre content, especially when cooked and rid of their water content, will keep your body flushed out on a regular basis, which of course means more regular weight loss
Metabolism Beta-glucans help metabolize fats and sugars in the body and B-vitamins are notorious for converting carbohydrates into much needed fuel to give you energy throughout your day. B-vitamins also assist in successfully metabolizing fats and proteins
Mushrooms come in such a wide gamut of varieties you can spend your whole culinary existence having fun experimenting with different shapes, textures and flavor profiles
Stuffed mushroom caps as an appetizer are always a big hit at parties or use big ones for a meal all on their own. First, line a lightly oiled baking tray with your favorite fresh, stemmed mushrooms. In a bowl, combine roughly cut cashew nuts, a few minced garlic cloves, a couple of turns of quality EVOO, a splash of lemon juice,baby spinach and finish with a dollop of persian fetta Stuff the mushroom cavities and bake them in the oven for a good twenty minutes or so.
For a sumptuous appetizer, or even a meal in and of itself on a cold winter’s day, concoct a steaming pot of cannelini bean and mushroom soup. All you need are cooked cannelini beans, tahini paste, some butter, chicken or vegetable broth, as many of your favorite mushrooms, two minced garlic cloves, an onion, two ribs of celery, salt and pepper to taste.
Portobello mushroom and Lentil burgers are a popular favorite amongst vegans, vegetarians and carnivores alike as they are thick and meaty and stand up well to grilling. Spice them as you would your favorite burger using lentil patties as the bread, thrown on a slice of grilled haloumi cheese, some avocado, fresh rocket and well grilled mushies, top with some homemade tomato relish, and you will be in savory burger heaven.
“I am… a mushroom; On whom the dew of heaven drops now and then.” ~John Ford