Mushrooms 411: The Health Benefits of Eating Mushrooms

Mushroom 411

Mushrooms are getting a lot of buzz in the health and wellness sphere for good reason! They’re antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powerhouses and taste delicious with neutral flavors and hearty textures. There are many varieties of mushrooms and they’ve been used for centuries for their medicinal properties and immune boosting support. A couple of my favorite and most popular varieties include white button, portabella, crimini, shiitake, oyster, and maitake. Each mushroom has their own unique taste and texture, but all mushrooms have an earthy flavor with a tender texture to them.

Benefits of Eating Mushrooms

You can use mushrooms in cooking by roasting them, sautéing, or using raw in some cases. My favorite way is to sauté them with olive oil and garlic over pasta, quinoa, or made into a meatless burger. Not only do they taste delicious, but they’re loaded with nutrition including: vitamin D, C, B2, B5, copper, phosphorus, selenium, zinc, copper, niacin, and a little protein on top of their antioxidants. All of these minerals are incredibly important for immune function. Mushrooms also contain unique molecules that help prevent oxidative damage on our DNA cells and proteins (ergothioneine, superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase). Mushrooms are also great for fighting inflammation in the body, such as in type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Mushrooms essentially block pro-inflammatory molecules (i.e. inflammation from IL-10, IL-12, and IFN inflammatory molecules), especially those coming from crimini mushrooms.

The overall antioxidant molecules, vitamins, and minerals found in mushrooms make them great for overall cardiovascular support and have been shown to help protect against certain types of cancer. CLA (conjugated linolenic acid) is found in mushrooms and is a type of fatty acid that may bind to cancer cells lessening their ability to produce estrogen- this is particularly beneficial in hormone-related cancers such as breast and prostate. The vitamin D content found in mushrooms are those that have been exposed to UV lighting, the natural compounds in mushrooms produce vitamin D2.  Mushrooms have also been used medicinally for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine and more using them as tinctures or teas from soaking dried mushrooms.

Note, mushrooms are one of the whole foods that some people are allergic to- if so, obviously avoid. Learn more about mushrooms and ways to incorporate them into your recipes, here!

TBB Recommends: We love adding reishi powdered mushrooms to our smoothies, tea, and coffee. Reishi are known for their medicinal immunity boosting benefits.

What are your favorite ways to use mushrooms? Do you have a recipe people rave about? Share a link in the comments or tag on Instagram #BragYourPlate @TheBodyBook.

McKel Hill, MS, RD, LDN is an internationally known Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Founder of Nutrition Stripped. Nutrition Stripped is one of the top healthy living websites including whole food recipes, meal plans, cooking videos, nutrition advice, t-shirt line of wearable healthy inspirations, and an incredible community of millions of people who are inspired to live a healthier, happier, and more radiant life. McKel lives in Nashville, TN; yet she hosts retreats, and coaches and consults privately for individuals and high profile brands all over the world. The Nutrition Stripped Cookbook will be published in early 2016.

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