Mushrooms are one of those foods that may be an acquired liking. Although they are one of the most popular foods available. The mushroom is considered a vegetable, but technically, the mushroom is a fungus. Yes, a fungus, complete with spores. Technically, a mushroom is a plant.
There are over 10,000 types of mushrooms that have been identified. Information provided states that there are 614 edible mushroom species. One would have to be very well versed in the knowledge of mushrooms to be a mushroom hunter. There are so many poisonous or toxic mushrooms that extreme care must be taken when out in the woods.
Mushrooms have a meaty texture, great taste and can be somewhat delicate. Mushrooms are available at all local markets, specialty locales and even in the woods. They can be used in basically any food dish or eaten plain.
Health and Nutritional Benefits
- Mushrooms have cancer fighting agents in them. In a recent study of the five most common types of mushrooms, research showed reduction in the growth of cancer causing cells, especially in breast cancer.
Shiitake mushrooms also contain lentinan. This lentinan is a sugar molecule that is believed to extend the survival rate of patients. Although this sugar molecule does not kill cancer cells, it does boost the immunity system to fight it off. It was also shown to suppress the growth of cancer cells in stomach cancer.
- This sugar molecule helps to boost the immune system for those who eat the mushrooms. Beta Glucan is another sugar molecule found in mushrooms that help boost the Th1 lymphocytes in the blood which is known to reduce inflammation throughout the body.
- Mushrooms help to lower cholesterol levels in humans. They are also cholesterol free. The shiitake mushroom is one that helps the liver to process the cholesterol quickly, preventing it from sticking to arterial walls and thus becoming plaque that ultimately blocks the arteries.
- Unlike the majority of fruits and vegetables, mushrooms have a high content of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is normally found in fish rich in fatty acids, milk and fortified fruit juice. Vitamin D is essential to good bone health.
- Mushrooms are said to be an anti-aging food. Mushrooms have a high amount of two antioxidants. These are ergothioneine and glutathione. These, in conjunction with each other, have the highest amounts of anti aging compounds in a vegetable or plant. The fungi, plant type food can be added to numerous dishes, raw or cooked. Mushrooms should never be overcooked, they tend to lose the vital nutrients that are found within.
- Psilocybin is a compound found in over 200 types of mushrooms. With this compound, 80% of cancer patients reported elevated moods, less depression and optimism. They also reported a stronger connection to those around them, as well as to a higher power. It is believed that this compound may also help alleviate anxiety, PTSD and depression in other patients as well as in cancer patients.
- Digestive health is believed to be improved by the Selenium compound found in mushrooms. This mineral is only needed in small amounts in order for it to help prevent cell damage as it helps the body to make proteins that help build the metabolic process in our bodies. The selenium shows that it has some significant protective effects against the cancer cells in bladder cancer.
- Mushrooms are a great source of vitamins and minerals that we need everyday. Along with fiber, mushrooms are rich in Vitamin B, copper, potassium, riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid. For all of these in a small item, mushrooms are great for healthy red blood cells, healthy skin and healthy heart. Mushrooms are even part of a healthy and functioning nervous system.
- Diabetics will benefit from adding mushrooms to their diets. Mushrooms have a low glycemic index. Foods with a low glycemic index do not cause jumps or spikes in blood sugars. Mushrooms are low in calories, no fat, low glycemic count and are versatile for any type of meal. The amount of fiber found in mushrooms is great to help lower the blood sugar the way the body was meant to.
- Adding mushrooms to a diet for anyone is beneficial in many ways. Mushrooms are low calorie which helps to fight obesity. There are two compounds found in the reishi mushroom. These are polysaccharides and triterpenes. These two compounds help to prevent the growth of new fat cells. They also have a favorable effect on high triglyceride levels. High triglyceride levels also lead to obesity.
Those are just ten of the benefits found for including mushrooms into the daily diets. There are other nutrients in mushrooms that help the body develop and have proper growth. Zinc is one that is needed for the immune system and to ensure proper growth and development in infants and children.
Mushrooms will help to lower high blood pressure when eaten as part of a heart healthy diet. One study also showed the benefits of switching out some of your beef and replacing it with mushrooms, with as low as 20% swap between the two, there was a noticeable improvement and reduction in the BMI of obese individuals. The antioxidants help to lower the risk of hypertension also.
A typical serving size is considered to be one cup of mushrooms. Within that serving you will get 2.2 grams of protein, 15 calories and only 1.4 g of sugar. Mushrooms can be eaten in salads, as a stuffed main dish, in soups, hotdishes or casseroles. They can be cooked, eaten raw, sauteed or grilled.
There are, however, a few side effects of mushrooms to be aware of. Mushrooms are generally eaten for the nutritional values, the medicinal qualities and the flavor that they add to foods. Edible mushrooms can still cause some effects on people if they are not careful.
The people who should not eat mushrooms are those that have allergies to any type of fungus. The following may be experienced by those who do have allergies to a form of fungus:
- Upset stomach
- Brain fog or feeling as though you are absent minded, hallucinations
- Skin allergies
- Mental Illness
- Tingling sensation in the extremities
Pregnant women should avoid mushrooms during pregnancy if they experience any of these.
Many of these side effects are also considered to be effects from the non-edible mushrooms, or poisonous mushrooms. Although mushrooms are vital in nutrients and vitamins, there are some minerals that can be harmful when eaten in high quantities. Mushrooms should be cooked well.
For centuries, people have used mushrooms as a medicinal aid. Some of the purposes mushrooms were used for include as an anti-inflammatory, to cauterize wounds, and of course, feed you.
Mushrooms are a food that could be considered a superfood, it is after all one that could fill you up, kill you, some are capable of healing you and then some can send you into a spiritual journey of sorts.
It is evident that the mushroom is known as coming from microbes, which has led us to the healing components. Antibiotics are also known to be a form of a fungus originally. Psychoactive mushrooms have been used for thousands of years for medicinal use and also for ceremonial use.
Native Americans used mushrooms to decorate sacred objects, stop bleeding wounds, and they would make it into an infusion to treat diarrhea and dysentery. When combined with another fungus, it could be used to treat a cough. Sdome tribe elders would make a necklace of dried mushrooms as a healing token to not become ill. Many tribes also used a variety of mushrooms to toss into their firs and have a perfumed type of smoke.
When the Shaman of a tribe would pass on, one type of the fungus was harvested and carved. This fomitopsis officinalis grew on the sides of a tree and could grow up to three feet or more. The mushroom would be harvested and then carved, the token would be then placed at the head of a Shaman’s gravesite, by the headstone to warn others that there were spirits buried in that location.
The medicine men and women of the tribe would always harvest, dry and then grind into a powder the mushrooms. The powder was then placed into beautiful carved boxes and always ready when they were needed.
Mushrooms, although not pretty to look at, taste great, work as medicine, and have proven themselves to be quite a beneficial food and item necessary in life.
Mushrooms work well in a vegan diet, on a keto diet, and even in a no diet diet. They are healthy options to include in a wide variety of dishes. Low calorie, great taste, versatile and useful, makes it an ideal ingredient to have at home.