Everyone is talking about mushrooms these days – nutritional and psychedelic mushrooms. Here I will only talk about the benefits of nutritional mushrooms and why we should include them in our daily diets.
A Closer Look at Mushrooms
Mushrooms have been cherished and even treasured for thousands of years. Our ancestors have known about the healing and nutritional values of mushrooms. The Chinese have long considered mushrooms to be a medicinal food to maintain good health. The Greeks even believed that the consumption of mushrooms makes a man physically strong. And in modern day Japan, mushrooms are used to treat cancer.
Mushrooms are not uncommon in the American diet. However, most of the very nutritious and health improving mushrooms are not well known nor much consumed. Even though, mushrooms are often treated like vegetables, they really are not. They are a type of fungus.
The Incredible Health Benefits of Mushrooms
What are the benefits of mushrooms? Mushroom contain bioactive compounds like polysaccharides, indoles, polyphenols, and carotenoids – compounds that have an effect on living organisms, tissues, and cells and which have shown in laboratory studies to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties. Mushrooms also contain quite a number of minerals and vitamins, and add rich flavors called umami.
Mushroom contain B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B5 (Pantothenic Acid), B9 (Folate), Vit D, Phosphorus, Selenium, Copper, and Potassium. Mushrooms contain a substance called ergosterol which produces Vit D if exposed to ultra-violet light (sunlight or UV lamps).
Of course, not all mushrooms are nutritious, healthy or beneficial – some mushrooms have psychedelic effects, and others are highly toxic and can be deadly. But don’t let that statement scare you! Safe to eat, nutritional mushrooms are grown commercially and can be found in grocery stores, farmers markets, and can even be grown at home.
As per the experts at Harvard Health:
- two epidemiological studies found that an increased consumption of mushrooms had a protective effect on the brain in older adults. It is thought that a compound called ergothioneine acts as an antioxidant and is involved in the prevention of the formation of amyloid proteins which are related to dementia.
- Mushrooms also contain polysaccharides that can act a pre-biotic – food for the beneficial gut bacteria. Polysaccharides remain undigested in and can therefore reach the colon. Studies have shown that polysaccharides stimulate the growth of beneficial gut bacteria like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
Exploring the Culinary Delights of Mushrooms
Mushrooms commonly used for cooking are White Caps, Chanterelle (trumpet shaped cap), Cremini (Baby Bella – young Portobello), Enoki (long, thin white stems with little white caps), Maitake (the caps resemble flowing leaves), Morel (cap is spongy dimpled and oblong), Oyster (fan shaped cap), Porcini (reddish-brown rounded cap), Portobello (large brown thick cap, very juicy, often used as meat substitute), Shiitake (dark brown umbrella cap with a thin cream-colored stem). Most of these can be found at grocery stores and farmers markets and recipes with mushrooms can be easily found in magazines and online cooking and recipes websites.
Stay tuned for more exciting and enlightening details in the next installment
Stay tuned for part two when I will talk a little bit about medicinal mushrooms. And in the mean-time, be adventurous, pick up some mushrooms at the farmers market and add them to your favorite stir-fry, stew, burger, or soup.If you're eager to learn more about enhancing your well-being through nutrition, don't hesitate to book an appointment with Dr. Evelin, ND. She can provide valuable insights and guidance on improving your health through food.
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Vibrant Health starts in the kitchen. I can help you change how you approach and view meal time to regain your Vibrant Health one day at a time.
Blessing - Dr. Evelin Valdez, ND