Mushrooms are a great addition to a healthy diet. And with all the mushroom varieties, you’ll be sure to find a favorite. Mushrooms are low-carb, low-calorie, and full of nutrients such as vitamin B, trace minerals, fiber and protein. For example, mushroom health benefits include fighting cancer, promoting heart health, and supporting immune function. Learn more below!
Here are 6 mushroom health benefits:
1. Fight Cancer
Mushroom health benefits start with the ability to fight cancer. This is due to the fact that mushrooms can increase natural killer cells, the kind of cells that seek out and destroy cancerous cells. (1)
In fact, mushrooms can inhibit tumor formation, protect DNA from damage, as well as bring cell mutation to a halt, all while protecting healthy cells.
2. Improve Immunity and Lower Inflammation
Next on the list of mushroom health benefits is the ability to boost your immunity as well as reduce inflammation.
According to a 2005 report published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, mushrooms are chock-full of health benefits. These include being antimicrobial, antiviral, antitumor, antiallergic, immunomodulating, antiatherogenic, hypoglycemic, hepatoprotective and anti-inflammatory. (2)
…Wow! That means mushrooms can improve almost every system in the body. Furthermore, as mushrooms are on the list of foods that fight inflammation, they can protect you from a variety of diseases (disease development is linked with high amounts of inflammation). Mushrooms also help balance pH and alkalize the body, which further fights off diseases, as some experts assert disease cannot grow in an alkaline environment.
3. Protect Heart Health
Thanks to a compound that interferes with the production of cholesterol in the liver, mushroom health benefits include lowering cholesterol levels—naturally! This can keep your arteries from hardening and lower your risk for heart disease.
4. Support Energy and Improve Brain Function
Mushroom health benefits extend to your brain and energy levels, as well. This is due to the vitamin B mushrooms contain, which helps support adrenal function and turns nutrients into energy. And B vitamins help with neurotransmitter function, which can help rid of brain fog as well as prevent thyroid disorders.
Mushroom health benefits continue as they can also lower inflammation that can trigger a decline in cognitive function, mood issues, low energy and age-related neurodegenerative diseases. And, do you deal with chronic stress? Reishi mushrooms in particular are good for lowering cortisol, enabling your body to better deal with stress and keep your mood on the light side.
5. Help with Weight Management
If you’re watching what you eat, you might try substituting mushrooms for meat, as mushroom health benefits include helping you lose weight. In fact, consuming mushrooms several times per week is correlated with healthy body weight, reduced waist circumference and better health overall.
6. Provide Vitamin D
It’s best if you get your vitamin D from the sun, however, mushroom health benefits also include providing you with a decent source of vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is a serious problem for many people and can be the cause to everything from heart disease to depression.
Types of Mushrooms
Below is a list of disease-fighting mushrooms you should consider making a regular part of your diet. Reap mushroom health benefits by eating the following varieties:
Reishi mushrooms have been used in ancient cultures to fight disease. They fight inflammation, cancer, heart disease, hormonal imbalances, neuro-degenerative problems, mood disorders and more.
These mushrooms are a bitter, woody fungi. They contain a potent adaptogen that can help you deal with stress, making it a remedy for anxiety.
You can take this mushroom as a tincture, capsule or tablet form. Either way, it will help increase your energy and bring about a sense of calm. Furthermore, these mushrooms can help heal adrenal fatigue, improve memory, and promote restful sleep.
Reishi mushrooms’ power to do all this comes from their beta-glucans, which increase your T-cell levels. The immune boost these mushrooms give you can help fight against cancer as well as lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
Reishis also contain lanostan, which is an antihistamine that can serve as a cure for arthritis.
Shiitakes, due to the many chemical compounds they contain, can protect your DNA from oxidative damage. For example, they contain lentinan, which is a substance that can heal chromosome damage brought on by anti-cancer treatments.
Furthermore, shiitakes also contain eritadenine, which aids in reducing cholesterol levels. And lentinula edodes mycelium, or LEM, helps prevent as well as treat cancer, heart disease, hepatitis, high blood pressure and infectious diseases.
Additionally, according to the Journal of Nutrition, shiitakes are antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal. They also assert they help control blood sugar and reduce the symptoms of inflammatory diseases. (3)
Shiitakes also have all eight essential amino acids as well as an essential fatty acid called linoleic acid.
Cordyceps are sometimes referred to as the anti-aging mushrooms, as they increase stamina and endurance. This is due to their ability to help the body produce ATP, which is the primary fuel on which our bodies run. In fact, Chinese folk medicine asserts these mushrooms are invigorants, good for increasing energy and reducing fatigue.
Furthermore, cordyceps protect mitochondria by scavenging reactive oxygen species. They also inhibit mitochondrial swelling and increase the activities of antioxidant substances. These qualities make them a great anti-aging food. (4)
Cordyceps can also fight against cancer by inhibiting cell division and growth. They can be difficult to find fresh, so look for them in dried or capsule form.
This variety is loaded with vitamins as well as special components called beta-1 6 glucan that stimulate the immune system. These special components are even used in Asia as an adjunctive treatment for cancer. Furthermore, they can help minimize toxic effects of radiation and chemotherapy.
Maitake mushrooms also balance hormones, balance blood sugar levels, and improve the health of AIDS patients.
Oyster mushrooms are good for reducing joint pain and muscle aches, due to their anti-inflammatory effects. They can, for example, reduce tightness in tendons. They’re also good for your heart, with the ability to strengthen blood vessel walls as well as reduce risk of heart attack and stroke.
And if you have anemia, you should know that this fungus is a good way to address an iron deficiency. You can find this mushroom in some specialty markets.
Cremini/White Button Mushrooms
These are likely the mushroom with which you are most familiar. Cremini mushrooms or white button mushrooms are full of nutrients, and in fact have more copper, potassium, protein and selenium than both oyster and shiitake mushrooms. Furthermore, they are a great source of phosphorus, zinc, niacin and panthothenic acid.
Porcinis, portabellas and morels are also loaded with nutrients, so be sure to include these in your meals as well.