Health Benefits of Mushrooms: In the botanical world, the food which we are getting from plants is called vegetarian food. Mushrooms are not harvested from plants rather it is an edible fungus. They are in fact saprophytes; the plants without chlorophyll survive by extracting nutrients from dead and decaying remnants of plant and animal matter. Mushrooms are of many varieties that vary in color, size, quality, and shape.
Mushrooms are endowed with several important nutrients. It is always said to get enriched with enough vitamins and minerals in the diet one has to eat a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables. A food that lacks color also lacks necessary nutrients, but edible mushrooms, which are commonly white, are totally different. They are a good source of minerals and vitamins which include potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, vitamin C, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, folate, and vitamin D.
Health Benefits of Mushrooms
The benefits of mushrooms for one’s health are plentiful so, let us discuss how it is beneficial to us.
Health Benefit 1 Lower Blood Pressure
Mushrooms are rich in potassium content. Potassium helps in a widening of our blood vessels, and, this automatically reduces blood pressure. High blood pressure leads to many diseases, particularly heart attacks and strokes. Potassium also enhances brainpower functions. When the blood flow is increased to the brain, indirectly oxygen level is also increased which stimulates neural activity. In addition to these benefits, it also has shown that high levels of potassium improve memory and knowledge retention. Researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, worked on rats and have revealed that mushrooms when eaten alone or when taken with other foods are very much useful to treat insulin resistance.
Health Benefit 2 Increase Iron Absorption
Mushrooms also contain a good quantity of copper and iron, which in turn has a number of beneficial effects on the body. Copper deficiency leads to anemia and neutropenia said by Dr. William Dunlap, an Internal Medicine Specialist in Raleigh, North Carolina. The reason to it is that copper regulates and stimulates the absorption of iron from food, and properly utilize it from primary storage spots in the body like the liver. Mushrooms also have high levels of iron, so the two always work together for healthy bones and prevent anemia.
Health Benefit 3 Weight Loss
It is already studied a lot that for a lean body protein diet is perfect; mushrooms are rich in protein source. Thus mushrooms are responsible for losing fat and building muscle mass. The reason for it is that most fats are burnt to digest proteins of our food, and when the protein is accompanied by a very low carbohydrate count, no fat or cholesterol, and a good amount of fiber. Due to their high nutrient density, they are ranked higher than most fruits and vegetables, and researchers say that mushrooms are the only foods that people can eat as frequently as possible, with no side effects.
Health Benefit 4 Rich Source of Selenium
Mushrooms are a good source of selenium according to USDA. One should know that the selenium mineral has anticancer, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory potential and may help in reducing the risk of cancer, heart diseases, thyroid disease, and cognitive decline. But still, studies are under process on these grounds.
Health Benefit 5 Lower Cholesterol
Mushrooms provide one with lean proteins so, no question of having cholesterol or fat in the body and equipped with very low carbohydrates. So, no way of accumulating fat in the body. The fiber and certain enzymes present in mushrooms also help to lower cholesterol levels. Moreover, the high lean protein content found in them helps burns cholesterol when they are digested. In the prevention of various cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke one requires the balancing levels of cholesterol between LDL or bad cholesterol and HDL or good cholesterol.
Health Benefit 6 Prevent Diabetes
Mushrooms as already said it is an ideal low-energy diet for diabetic people. Many studies have been reported in Functional Foods in Health and Disease journal. Mushroom, in short, is an amalgamation of all the important nutrients required by our body. No fats, no cholesterol, very low levels of carbohydrates, high protein content, and a good asset of vitamins and minerals. They are also enriched with lots of water and fiber. The best part is, they contain natural insulin and enzymes which help in the breaking down of sugar or starch in food. Diabetic people suffer from infections in their limbs, which continue for a long period of time but the best part is that the natural antibiotics enclosed in the mushrooms can help protect a diabetic person from these painful and potentially life-threatening conditions.
Health Benefit 7 Improve Bone Health
Mushrooms are of course a rich source of calcium, and calcium is an essential nutrient in the formation and strengthening of bones. A stable contribution of calcium in the diet can reduce the chances of developing worse conditions like osteoporosis, and can also reduce joint pain and then lack of mobility that is connected with bone degradation.
Health Benefit 8 Rich in Selenium
The selenium content is in a very good amount in mushrooms, it is one of the most beneficial elements that are ignored. It is usually found in animal proteins; however, as mushrooms being fungi and saprophytic in nature feed on animal and plant dead organic matter, so indirectly gets enriched with selenium. Hence, mushrooms are the best way for vegetarians to get hold of the necessary amount of selenium. It benefits bone health along with calcium and gives strength to bones and increased toughness. It also makes the teeth, hair, and nails strong. In addition to it, this essential nutrient is also a powerful antioxidant, which liberates the body of free radicals and strengthens the immune system.
Health Benefit 9 Nutrient Absorption
Vitamin D is rarely found in vegetables, and one can never think it in edible forms, One will be surprised to know that, mushrooms have contained a good quantity of Vitamin D, and this essential vitamin helps in the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorous. Though both calcium and phosphorus are already present in good amounts in mushrooms, the combined effects of having these entire nutrients together make one to eat whenever possible.
Health Benefit 10 Boost Immune System
A powerful antioxidant Ergothioneine is present in mushrooms; it is very effective in giving protection from free radicals as well as to enhance the immune system. Ergothioneine is actually an amino acid that contains sulfur, which is deficient in many people. The presence of this “master antioxidant” which is exclusively present in mushrooms, can give a major trigger to our immune system health. Thus Ergothioneine helps in the elimination of free radicals, these radicals are produced during the metabolic processes of cells and are dangerous compounds that can float throughout the body and cause considerable damage and diseases in our body.
Mushrooms are equipped with natural antibiotics (similar to penicillin), which hold back microbial growth and other fungal infections. A study published in Elsevier’s Medicinal journal that the same polysaccharides beta-glucans which is present in penicillin is also in mushrooms, which can encourage and regulate the body’s immune system. These beta-glucans can heal ulcers and ulcerous wounds and defend them from developing infections. Wow! It is also a good combination of vitamin A, B-complex, and C which are responsible for strengthening our immune system.
Side Effects of Mushroom
Mushrooms, as we know, are fungi, but all mushrooms are not edible rather most of the species of mushrooms are not edible and are highly poisonous, so one has to look for the edible mushrooms.
- Many species can be fatal if ingested without a proper investigation from the retailers.
- Non-edible mushrooms can turn fatal to people’s health, resulting in comas, severe poison symptoms, nausea, vomiting, convulsions, cramps, and insanity.
- Do not eat discolored ones or those which are looking stale as compared to the original accepted color available.
Selection of Edible Mushrooms & Its Storage
- Select fresh discolored mushrooms that have no stale smell
- Always go for sealed products from reputable companies or those which one has grown self under controlled conditions.
- Do not trust any unknown sellers when one is buying mushrooms.
- One should never try to pick them for consumption from the fields unless one has been trained to identify them very well.
- Many mushrooms could contain heavy metals when picked from the field, which could be very toxic.
- Mushrooms are having the unique ability to absorb the material that they grow on, whether it is good or bad. This quality of theirs gives them their beneficial power, but side by side it is also dangerous.
- Store them in a refrigerator or a cool place by keeping in a paper bag or tea towel.
- Use mushrooms within a few days as they start aging faster.
Keep Eating Mushrooms and Keep Maintaining the Overall Health