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7 Potential Health Benefits of Mushrooms

Even if you don’t eat them raw, fungi are hot right now. According to Nutritional Outlook, sales of mushrooms and other mushroom-based products increased 33 percent in 2019 compared to the previous year.

Nutrition experts are enthusiastic about fungi. Mushrooms have low calories. They are also rich in macro and micronutrients such as selenium and zinc. Katherine Brooking, RD is a New York City registered dietitian and co-creator the weekly news series Appetite for Health. She explains that B vitamins are essential for the production of energy in cells. According to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements (NIH), selenium is a powerful antioxidant. A healthy immune system requires zinc and copper.

Whole mushrooms can be beneficial to your health if you cook them or eat them raw. This is why we’re concentrating on whole mushrooms rather than processed mushrooms. . Additional research is required to determine if other forms, such as supplements, nutraceuticals and mouth sprays, may offer additional benefits.

Kim Bedwell, of the Mushroom Council, states that the white button mushroom is the most well-known mushroom in America. She says that other varieties such as cremini, also known as baby bella, and portobellos are becoming more popular. She also says that specialty mushrooms, such as oysters, maitakes and shiitakes are more common in mainstream grocery stores. There are many options, depending on what you like — which means there are many ways to enjoy these seven health benefits.

1. Mushrooms support immunity and bone health

According to a review published in the October 2018 Nutrients, mushrooms can produce vitamin D when exposed to ultraviolet radiation. According to the NIH, a half cup of UV-exposed white mushrooms can provide 46 percent of your daily vitamin D intake. This is a great nutritional perk for veggies (or fungi). According to Brooking, vitamin D is not found in many foods, particularly plants.  Brooking says that vitamin D plays an important role in bone and immune health.

Although your body makes vitamin D from sunlight exposure, there are many factors that can increase or decrease your chances of getting it. MedlinePlus states that you may be deficient if your body is not receiving enough sunlight or you are eating too little.

Bedwell advises that you look at the bottom or front of any package when looking for mushrooms rich in vitamin D. If your mushrooms cover at least 20% of the daily value (or DV) per serving, you can tell if they are high in vitamin D. The Nutrition Facts label has this information. You should also be aware of the “best before” date. If you eat mushrooms before this time, you will still get a good dose of vitamin D.

2. The health benefits of mushrooms may be attributed to their ability to improve gut health.

According to a September 2017 International Journal of Molecular Sciences review, mushrooms can help your gut contain trillions of bacteria. Consuming mushrooms could also help strengthen your immune system. The research on mushrooms and gut health has been very promising. Brooking says that mushrooms contain prebiotics. These are nutrients that probiotics eat. Mushrooms contain prebiotics, which may aid in the formation of healthy bacteria. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, probiotics, which are living microorganisms or bacteria, may provide health benefits for the body by aiding in digestion and producing nutrients.

3. High Blood Pressure? Mushrooms are good for you

According to the USDA, a whole portobello mushroom (the popular large mushrooms) contains 306 mgs of potassium. According to the American Heart Association, potassium helps regulate blood pressure by counteracting sodium’s effects and improving blood vessel function. How? How? More potassium in your diet increases the excretion sodium in your urine. These heart-health benefits are not limited to this. According to a May 2021 American Journal of Medicine review, mushrooms may also be beneficial for lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as reducing inflammation.

4. The Prevention of Cancer by Mushrooms

You might consider adding mushrooms to your cancer prevention diet. A meta-analysis of 17 studies in Advances in Nutrition found that people who consumed more routine mushrooms had a 34% lower chance of developing any type of cancer. This was especially true for breast cancer. The antioxidants in mushrooms, especially ergothioneine, may help protect cells from injury.

However, not all studies have found positive associations. Researchers concluded that people who consumed five meals per week of mushrooms did not have a lower chance of developing 16 types of cancer, in a prospective cohort study with more than 100,000 participants. This was per Cancer Prevention Research August 2019.

5. Substituting for red meat with mushrooms may increase longevity

Mushrooms can add umami (or savory, meaty) flavor to food. Brooking says mushrooms are a great way to substitute or add meat to many recipes. Researchers found that those who ate one serving of mushrooms daily had a 35% lower chance of dying from any cause in a prospective cohort study published in Nutrition Journal in April 2021.

According to the study authors, this could be because mushrooms contain antioxidants like ergothioneine or glutathione. They are also low calories, sodium, fat, and fiber. However, mushrooms are a healthier option than other foods, which may explain the longer lives of the participants.

6. Brain Health May be Boosted by Mushrooms

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 12-18% of those 60 and older suffer from mild cognitive impairment (MCI). This condition can sometimes be a precursor to Alzheimer’s. It affects memory, thinking skills and judgment. Healthy eating habits are important for the brain as it ages, and mushrooms could be one of those healthy choices. According to a March 2019 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 663 elderly adults in Singapore reported that they ate more mushrooms per week than those who did not. This result was 57 percent lower than those who consumed them less frequently. The study included golden, oyster, white button, canned, dried, and canned mushrooms.

Their cognitive-protecting abilities could be due to one thing. Ergothioneine is an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory qualities. This may help protect the brain from neuronal damage.

7. Some Psychoactive mushrooms may be a treatment for mental health conditions

Psilocybin is a hallucinogenic substance found in “magic mushrooms” and used as a psychedelic therapy for depression and PTSD. There has been a lot of discussion about it. These therapies can be effective if they are administered under close supervision. In fact, a six-week treatment with Psilocybin (59 participants) was shown to be as effective in relieving depression as escitalopram, an antidepressant standard. The strength of the results was limited by the fact that the trial was small and there were no placebos.

Currently, research centers such as the Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for the Neuroscience of Psychedelics are studying psilocybin to treat treatment-resistant depression. They believe psychedelics could be helpful in facilitating new neural connections. This type of treatment is possible, however. Although psilocybin can be used in some research settings, it is currently a Schedule 1 drug (meaning that it is illegal for personal use in the United States at the moment) and has not been approved for medical use by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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