A Guide To Mushrooms For Your Health
When it comes to proper nutrition, we’ve all been told to ‘eat the rainbow.’ In general, this advice is great! It can help all of us remember to add a variety of colorful foods to our diet so we are less likely to miss out on key nutrients. With that being said, colorful foods aren’t the only ones we should be focusing on. In fact, there are a number of exceptions to the rule of eating the rainbow, and one of the biggest ones is mushrooms.
The Nutritional Profile of Mushrooms
There are more than 10,000 types of mushrooms that exist on this planet, but not all of them are safe for humans to consume. In fact, only 30% of them are safe to consume, and of those, only about 25 of them are commonly considered food. However, those 25 species are packed with a variety of nutrients that are good for your overall health and well-being.
Unlike most other foods, mushrooms naturally contain vitamin D, which is important for a number of different areas of health such as respiratory health, heart health, and immune function. While the levels of vitamin D in mushrooms often aren’t very high, these amazing foods also contain a compound known as Ergosterol, which is converted to vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. This makes mushrooms a great way to help boost your vitamin D intake.
B vitamins do a lot for your body. They help keep your brain and nervous system functioning properly and help keep your skin, liver, eyes, and other organs healthy. In addition, some of the B vitamins also help increase natural energy levels and assist your body in the process of metabolizing fat. Mushrooms contain five of the eight essential B vitamins—riboflavin (B2), folate (B9), thiamine (B1), pantothenic acid (B5), and niacin (B3).
Mushrooms are also a great option for providing your body with potassium. Depending on the variety you choose, a single serving of mushrooms can offer 6-9% of the recommended daily value of potassium. This important mineral helps with a variety of processes within your body including maintaining a balance of fluids and electrolytes and helping your nerves and muscles function properly.
Another important mineral found in mushrooms is copper. This trace mineral is needed for your body to make the red blood cells it uses to deliver oxygen throughout your body. In addition to that, copper also assists in producing energy for your body to use and helps to keep your bones and nerves healthy.
Selenium is a trace mineral that works as an antioxidant within your body. This means that it helps to protect all the cells in your body from being damaged by things like free radicals. Because of its antioxidant properties, selenium is great for supporting overall health, and it has been found to be particularly helpful for immune health as well as men’s reproductive health. Depending on the variety, mushrooms contain 15-40% of the recommended daily value for selenium.
Fiber is best known for its ability to support digestive health; however, most Americans only consume about half the fiber they need on a daily basis. If you are looking to increase your fiber intake, mushrooms are a great place to start. One particularly great type of fiber that is found in mushrooms is known as beta-glucan. This soluble dietary fiber has been strongly linked to maintaining a healthy heart and boosting your immune system.
The Health Benefits Of Mushrooms
With so many important nutrients, mushrooms are a great option for nourishing your entire body. With that being said, there are a few specific areas of the body that mushrooms are particularly good at supporting.
Mushrooms, especially ones that have been deemed medicinal mushrooms offer nutrients that help support cognitive function and overall brain health. While research has indicated that many common mushrooms support healthy cognitive function, the best option for nourishing your brain is a mushroom known as Lion’s Mane. Without diving into the science of it, Lion’s Mane mushrooms contain compounds that activate a peptide called Nerve Growth Factor (NFG), which helps keep neurons healthy.
The Cardiovascular System
Mushrooms are wonderful for cardiovascular and heart health because they have properties that help your body maintain healthy cholesterol levels as well as reduce the amount of plaque that builds up in your blood vessels. Plus, since they are loaded with fiber, have high water content, and contain very little fat, mushrooms are great for weight management, which ultimately benefits your heart as well.
The Gut Microbiome
Fiber is a powerful prebiotic, which is the favorite snack of the good bacteria in your gut. Since mushrooms are loaded with fiber, adding them to your diet can help to modulate your gut microbiome by promoting microbial diversity and supporting colonies of good bacteria that work to strengthen the gut lining.
The Immune System
The combination of beta-glucan and vitamin D that is found in mushrooms makes them powerful foods for supporting your immune system. The beta-glucan activates cells called macrophages and natural killer cells, which are two types of immune cells that work hard to keep your body healthy by fighting off harmful intruders. Meanwhile, vitamin D is needed for your body to activate its immune defenses.
The Best Mushrooms For Your Diet
With so many benefits for your health, adding mushrooms to your diet is a no-brainer. But if you aren’t already an avid mushroom lover, you’re probably wondering which mushrooms you should buy and how you should go about preparing them. If you need a little guidance, here are some of our favorite common varieties and some of the best ways to prepare them.
1. White Button Mushrooms
This is the most common type of mushroom that you’ll see at the grocery store. Known for their mild taste, white button mushrooms can be cooked or eaten raw. They are great in salad, soups, pasta, or as a pizza topping.
2. Portobello Mushrooms
These are large fleshy mushrooms that have a mild but savory flavor. Although they don’t compare nutritionally to meat, many people like to use portobello mushrooms as an alternative to meat when preparing meals because the flavor pairs well with a large variety of dishes. Portobello mushrooms go great in hearty stews and can be roasted or grilled to make them a great addition to hamburgers.
3. Shiitake Mushrooms
Shiitake mushrooms are known for their unique slim stem and slightly curved caps. They are one of the most nutritious types of mushrooms available and make great additions to both soups and sauces. Before cooking shiitake mushrooms, you’ll want to remember to remove the stems and only use the caps.
4. Oyster Mushrooms
With an appearance that resembles fresh-shucked oysters, these mushrooms are light in color, sweet in flavor, and have a chewy texture. The combination of flavor and texture makes them the perfect addition to sauces, soups, and stir-fries.
5. Morel Mushrooms
While dried morels are often the easiest to get ahold of, these wild mushrooms can be foraged in the spring months and found at many local farmer’s markets. These mushrooms have a robust flavor and are best in dishes that will highlight their flavors such as stews and risotto.
6. Chanterelle Mushrooms
With a woodsy flavor and golden color, chanterelle mushrooms had long been considered a delicacy until they began being cultivated in the 1990s. Today, these mushrooms are easily available and are best when they are sauteed, included in a creamy sauce, or added to a stir-fry.
7. Maitake Mushrooms
Also known as the hen-of-the-woods, maitake mushrooms are known for their large ruffly appearance and woodsy flavor. Similar in texture to shiitake mushrooms, these mushrooms are especially good in soups and stews and have their flavor boosted by being combined with white button mushrooms.
8. Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
These brain-supporting all-stars have a stringy texture and mild taste. They are known to take on the flavors of the foods they are cooked with and are best served when sauteed as meat or added to a stew as a meat alternative.
Defend Your Health With Mushrooms
There is no denying that mushrooms have a lot to offer when it comes to your health, but even with their many benefits, the truth is they aren’t for everyone. Even if you’re put off by the taste or texture of mushrooms, there are still ways you can harness their benefits thanks to natural supplements like Defend.
This proprietary blend of natural ingredients includes 6 of the most commonly researched medicinal mushrooms, including oyster mushrooms, shiitake, and maitake. These powerful mushrooms are combined with beta-glucan and the nutrient-dense superfood known as organic Wild Microalgae® to provide your immune system and the rest of your body with optimal nourishment.
And the best part? You can put it to the test risk-free with our 90-day money-back guarantee.
At New Earth we are on a mission to positively impact the health of every body and soul we come in contact with. We specialize in producing third-party certified, organic whole food supplements including a variety of probiotics, and digestive support. Our supplements feature a rare, yet highly nutritious superfood, Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA). Also known as organic Wild Microalgae®, AFA is a unique type of microalgae that is available in many forms including tablets, capsules, and powders all designed to help you on your journey to holistic wellness. The best part? We offer a 90-day money-back risk-free guarantee on all of our products. Visit our website to learn more.