Mushrooms: Seven Benefits You Can Get From It

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Mushrooms have been used or eaten for centuries all around the world in many cultures because of its powerful medicinal and health properties. There is a rumor that pharaohs back in Ancient Egypt really enjoyed their earthy flavor and forbid commoners from even touching them and declared this little fungi a food only for royalty and kept all of the supply to themselves.

Nowadays, the now multi-billion dollar U.S industry revolving around this rather “common” food grows a little bit less than 900 million pounds of these plants each year, falling behind China in production and consumption according to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center.

According to the University of Idaho, approximately only 10 varieties of mushroom are grown commercially due to their cost-benefit ratio for major food corporations despite the number of edible varieties ranging from 300 to 2,000.

No matter which edible variety you chose, it’s certain that almost all of them provide incredible benefits to your health and pack a whopping flavor punch when added to numerous delicious recipes that you can easily find online.

Despite being ok to consume raw, in order to really get the most nutritional value from these little super-foods, you should cook them for the following reasons:

When you cook them, it becomes much easier for the digestive system to extract and process all the nutrients found inside the cell walls of the mushrooms which are released as oils when heated up. When consumed raw, these little fungi can contain contain chemical ingredients that can interfere in digestion and absorption by the digestive system and produce an unpleasant feeling and adverse side-effects that you really don’t want to be subject to. According to WebMD, when the mushrooms are cooked, these toxins and anti-digestive elements are destroyed and eliminated.

The healthiest way to consume these amazing nutrition bombs is to grill or cook them in a stew, as found by a study from Spain. That’s because when you do that you lose fewer nutrients than when you fry or broil them. When you grill them you also lose nutrients, but as you add oil in the process you gain some antioxidants, according to researchers.

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If you are adverse to mushrooms or never saw them as being important, checkout some of the awesome health benefits they can provide:

1 – They help lower cholesterol

Usually, mushrooms are cholesterol-free. On the other hand, you can find lots of chitin and beta-glucan in it, which are the fiber that can help reduce cholesterol levels. A study published in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms suggests that pink oyster mushrooms were capable of greatly reducing total cholesterol and LDL (a.k.a. the bad cholesterol) in hypercholesterolemic rats.

Conversely, Andrew Weil, M.D. founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, argues that we can find a compound in Shitake mushrooms that aids the human liver in removing cholesterol from the bloodstream and to process it better so as to reduce risks of high blood pressure and other potential aliments.

 Meanwhile, Josh Axe, D.N.M., who is a best-selling author and nutritionist claims that mushrooms have vigorous phytonutrients that help keep cells from attaching to the blood vessel’s walls. In other words, this means that you don’t have a buildup of  atheroma plaque, which will maintain your blood pressure at healthy levels whilst also improving circulation.

2 – Mushrooms are immunity-boosters

What you will find within the cell walls of many varieties of mushroom is a type of sugar called beta-glucan which is very efficient in boosting your immune system.

3 – They have cancer-fighting properties

Five types of mushrooms (crimini, oyster, maitake, portabella, and white button) where tested during a study based on reducing cancer naturally published in the Experimental Biology and Medicine Journal. It turns out these types of mushroom could remarkably suppress breast cancer cell reproduction and growth, which means “both common and specialty mushrooms could be chemoprotective against breast cancer”.

However, it’s important to note that more studies are being conducted in order to fully confirm that these types of mushroom can consistently suppress these cancer cells.

One of the elements found specifically in Shiitake mushrooms is a type of sugar molecule known as lentinan. Lentinan, according to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center may be a crucial natural weapon and ally to chemotherapy when combating some types of cancer such as breast and stomach cancer.

According to the center, “Lentinan does not kill cancer cells directly, but stimulates the immune system to combat it, which could help in slowing the active growth of tumors. Lentinan also kills viruses and microbes directly in preliminary laboratory studies”.

Almost 40,000 men were studied in Japan for years. Researchers found out that the risk of developing prostate cancer was lower on those who regularly ate mushrooms. If they consumed mushrooms three or more times per week there was a 17 percent lower risk of developing prostate cancer than those who ate less than once a week.

This is especially significant for men 50 or older. The results were published in the International Journal of Cancer.

4 – They could help fight effects of adverse aging

In a study conducted at Penn State, initial results suggested that mushrooms contain two specific antioxidants in abundance: ergothioneine and glutathione. These two antioxidants are associated with anti-aging properties.

Researchers claim “they have found, without a doubt, that mushrooms are the highest dietary source of these two antioxidants and that some types are contain high concentration of both,” said Robert Beelman, director of the Penn State Center for Plant and Mushroom Products for Health and professor emeritus of food science.

On the other hand, he said the quantitative measures of these compounds vary by species, but the overall winner was the wild porcini mushroom.

Enoki mushrooms have been used in Eastern medicine for hundreds of years and are now being studied for their anti-tumor properties.

5 – Mushrooms have anti-inflammatory properties

Josh Axe also says mushrooms contain ergothioneine, which is a powerful antioxidant, helping reduce inflammation in our bodies. Additionally, he claims that Reishi mushrooms also contain these anti-inflammatory prosperities which is why it has been used therapeutically in Asia for centuries.

A large number number of studies have shown that these mushrooms have other beneficial impacts to  our health such as: their ability to suppress allergic responses, fight diseases, reduce inflammation and tumor growth and much more.

6 – ‘Magic’ mushrooms could help cancer patients

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and New York University Langone Medical Center conducted separated clinical trials to discover some of the benefits of Mushrooms where 80 cancer patients where suffering from mental issues as depression, anxiety, or fear of death.

They received psilocybin, a natural psychedelic ingredient found in proximally 200 kinds of mushrooms, and about 80{0a2eb16f1d25727dc238054011a72f75709f65b13ffbd17011d2c32197dce430} saw an “increase in a feeling of connection with other people, optimism and spiritual and mystical experiences”, which persisted through the six-month follow-up time, according to Washington Post reports.

The results were published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, suggests that psilocybin could benefit people with depression or PTSD.

7 – They’re rich in B and D vitamins

There are a few food sources for vitamin D and mushrooms are one of them. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that can be produced by our organism when we are exposed to the sunlight, specifically because growers are exposing their crops to limited amounts of ultraviolet light, WebMD reports.

Criminis and button mushrooms have high levels of vitamin D, not only that, criminis are high in vitamin B12 as well, which is important for vegetarians. B vitamins are the key for our organism to convert food into fuel, giving us energy.

On the other hand, vitamin D can help our bodies promote bone growth because it helps absorb calcium.

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