Those of us who enjoy mushrooms love their fresh earthy taste. Prepared right, mushrooms can add so much flavor to our soups, salads, meat dishes, pasta dishes, and so many others. But did you know that mushrooms are not only good but also good for you? Mushrooms are a nutritional powerhouse that can help make for a healthier you. (Source: UCLA Health – https://www.uclahealth.org)
Mushrooms can lower your cancer risk. A review of 17 cancer studies from 1966 to 202 shows that consuming as little as 18 grams of mushrooms each day can reduce your cancer risk by up to 45%. Mushrooms contain large quantities of ergothioneine, an antioxidant and amino acid that slows or prevents cellular damage.
Mushrooms are low in sodium. A single cup of white button mushrooms contains only 5 milligrams of sodium. And since mushrooms are also very flavorful, using them in prepared meals means that less salt is needed. A study from the Culinary Institute of America and UC Davis showed that replacing half of the meat in a ground beef dish with mushrooms can lower sodium intake by 25% while still maintaining flavor.
Eating mushrooms can help lower cholesterol. Mushrooms contain compounds that inhibit cholesterol production and absorption and lower cholesterol levels in the blood.
Mushrooms can protect brain health. A study in Singapore showed that participants who consumed more than two cups per week of mushrooms had a 50% lower risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
Mushrooms are an excellent source of Vitamin D. Most people get their Vitamin D from supplements or sunshine, but mushrooms are a natural source of this essential nutrient. Certain mushrooms, when exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation, can increase their concentration of Vitamin D. White button, portabella, and cremini mushrooms provide the largest amount of Vitamin D after being exposed to the sun. To get the maximum benefit, slice three mushrooms (or one portabella), expose them to sunlight for fifteen minutes, than enjoy. You can also get the same benefit from a cup of maitake (hen of the woods) mushrooms without the sun exposure.
Mushrooms can promote gut health. Mushroom polysaccharides can stimulate the growth of healthy gut bacteria. They are unaffected by stomach acid and can pass through all the way to the colon to encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria there.
Mushrooms can play a role in supporting a healthy immune system. Mushrooms contain certain macronutrients that help promote a healthy immune system.
- Selenium, a crucial mineral the body needs to make antioxidant enzymes to prevent cell damage. Cremini and portabella contain the highest amounts of selenium.
- Vitamin D, which assists with cell growth, increases immune function, and reduces inflammation. Maitake mushrooms are an excellent source of this nutrient.
- Vitamin B6, which plays a role in red blood cell, protein, and DNA formation. Shitake mushrooms are the best source of Vitamin B6.
So pile on the mushrooms. Your body will thank you!