If the thought of eating mushrooms—an edible fungi—doesn’t sound appealing to you, consider that they have a host of health benefits. You’ve likely enjoyed mushrooms in stir fries, as a pizza topping, in salads or in omelets anyway, so there’s no need to run at the idea of fungi-infused meals. Not only do mushrooms taste great in various recipes, but they can influence everything from cancer risk to digestive function.
However, there are many mushroom varieties around, making it difficult to sort through the clutter. Luckily for you, this article simplifies matters! Take a look at some of the more common varieties that exist (there are about 140,000 species of mushroom-forming fungi in the world, so I had to pare it down!). You’ll learn that mushrooms are excellent for your health. As an added bonus, they’re not fattening and are low in calories, which should be music to your ears if you’re watching your weight.
If you have low iron levels, shiitake mushrooms are worth considering. They’re a very good source of non-animal iron, which is especially beneficial if you prefer to eat a diet that’s primarily plant-based. Additionally, eating these mushrooms has been linked to helping your immune system. They are actually able to react to your body’s ever-changing requirements, boosting your immune system as needed. Shiitake mushrooms have also been found to support heart health. They contain substances that keep your blood vessels healthy and also help to prevent oxidative stress from occurring—both of which are necessary for proper cardiovascular function.
According to the World’s Healthiest Foods site, cremini mushrooms are packed with fantastic nutrients. They apparently boost your immune system thanks to their ability to regulate white blood cell activity based on your body’s needs. Further, cremini mushrooms have been found to provide anti-inflammatory benefits, which can reduce your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancers of the breast and prostate.
Reishi mushrooms also bolster the immune system immensely. In fact, research found that when people who had tumors consumed these mushrooms for 30 days, the immune system vastly improved. Researches even discovered that the same people experienced less dramatic chemotherapy and radiation side effects and had a better rate of post-operation recovery. These mushrooms have also been shown to help prevent and slow the spread of cancerous cells, reduce high blood pressure, and even reduce your risk of contracting cold sore and herpes.
Dehydrated? Get your fill of Portobello mushrooms. At about 108g of water by weight, they’re a great way to help you stay hydrated. Of course, getting plenty of water also does the trick, but these mushrooms provide a tasty change of pace. Furthermore, Portobello mushrooms are a high-fiber food, making them a good choice to combat constipation. These meaty mushrooms also contain potassium, which helps fight annoying muscle contractions and maintain proper nerve function.
Turkey vail (Coriolis versicolor)
Studies have shown that these mushrooms can help cancer patients increase their survival rates. The mushroom boosts natural killer (NK) cell ability in the body, which keeps the immune system strong. Natural health experts also suggest turning to turkey tail mushrooms to ward off HPV—a common sexually-transmitted infection that may lead to genital warts and cancer.
There are several ways to enjoy mushrooms. For example, Portobello mushrooms can be drizzled with olive oil, baked and then topped with feta cheese crumbles. Meanwhile, crimini mushrooms are tasty when sautéed with chicken dishes, in vegetables or mixed with noodles and added to stews or soups. The options are endless!
You can even consider supplements that include mushrooms—most of which are designed to boost immune system health. For just over a month, I’ve been adding them to my regular routine of healthy eating, which also includes taking a multi-vitamin. I opted to take start taking them due to the fact that I experienced more stress than normal this year, which can bring the immune system down. Furthermore, I’m hoping to keep colds away, especially during the holiday season. So far, I’ve been enjoying them and haven’t noticed any adverse side effects. In fact, I feel a surge in my overall energy and haven’t come down with any nasty viruses.
If you opt to try mushroom supplements, however, be sure to discuss your thoughts with your doctor. Still, it can’t hurt to enjoy fresh mushrooms straight from your local store and experiment with adding them to endless types of recipes. Here’s to your good health!