Your body benefits from eating mushrooms in a multitude of ways, but do you know that they also can help if you have any problems with your immune system, bladder/prostate/breast cancer, cholesterol, anemia, diabetes, osteoporosis, blood pressure, lack of fiber, and weight control.
Sounds almost too good to be true!
Interestingly, of the 140,000 species of mushroom-forming fungi in the world, only 100 species are being examined for their potential health advantages and medicinal functions.
So what are these magic ingredients in mushrooms?
For starters, they have a bunch of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and vitamin B3 (niacin). 100 grams of crimini mushrooms contain 44 and 30 percent of daily recommended amount; white button mushrooms 36 and 30 percent; and oyster mushrooms 32 and 39 percent.
Then there is vitamin D. Similar to humans, mushrooms produce more vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. If the mushrooms are in sunlight just before going to market, more of its plant sterol ergosterol is converted into the “sunshine vitamin.” Portabellos with this added vitamin D are already on U.S. markets.
Raw crimini, white button, and shiitakes are rich in selenium. According to seven studies published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, the higher the level of selenium, the lower the risk of bladder cancer, particularly in women.
Here is more science for you. One ingredient found in mushrooms, linoleic acid, is very helpful in suppressing the damaging effects of too much estrogen which is one of the prime causes of breast cancer in post-menopausal women. Changing genders, another mushroom ingredient, Beta-Glucans, inhibits the growth of cancerous cells in men with prostate cancer.
Mushrooms contain valuable antioxidants, the substances that fight free radicals. Penn State University found that crimini and portobello mushrooms possess a similar oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) to red peppers.
For those of you who worry about cholesterol, mushrooms are your ticket because they give you lean proteins with no fat or cholesterol and few carbs. The fiber and enzymes found in mushrooms plus the high lean protein assists in burning cholesterol when digested.
Diabetics benefit because that same combination of no fat and cholesterol, low carbs, high protein, vitamins, minerals, lots of water and fiber plus natural insulin helps break down the sugar and starch in food. Other compounds in the mushrooms assist in the normal functioning of the liver, pancreas and other endocrine glands.
Do you have symptoms of anemia caused by low levels of iron? Fortunately, mushrooms are a great source of iron with the added plus that 90% of their nutritive iron value can be successfully absorbed by the body.
Keep eating mushrooms and the calcium contained in them will diminish your chances of developing conditions like osteoporosis.
For those with hypertension, eating shitake and maitake mushrooms will increase your supply of potassium which acts as a vasodilator relaxing tension in the blood vessels. And that same potassium increases oxygen and blood flow to the brain which improves cognitive functioning. You don’t normally associate fungi with smarts.
And these are just some of the health benefits of the mighty mushroom!
About the author: With a childhood grounded in the peaceful, predictable, family-centered, Eisenhower 1950's, Steve was raised in the surfing environment of Hermosa Beach, California. He attended high school and college in the tumultuous 1960's, finishing at UCLA with a B.A. in psychology. Twenty-eight years later, he earned my Masters in Public Administration at California State University at Dominguez Hills. He now has three self-published Amazon eBooks. His children’s story was included in anthology published by Studio N.I. entitled Tense Situations. He has also written book reviews which were published by Hollywood Billboard. He is influenced by a whole range of authors, from skilled crafters of children's stories, historical fiction by the likes of Michener and Vidal, Mailer, Updike, Nelson DeMille, Dickens and Jane Austen, extending out to the more esoteric fantasy writers like Philip K. Dick, Dan Simmons and my famous namesake, and everything in between. Nothing fascinates him more than the human mind and new and different ways of perceiving life and people.