Mushrooms and Their Many Healing Abilities

I’m not going to lie. For most of my life I didn’t want anything to do with mushrooms. I didn’t like their taste, their texture, their color – anything. Then, I’m not even sure when, I began to try them, perhaps all pretty and stuffed at a cocktail party or something, and then began to like them. And now, I hear more and more about the healing properties of mushrooms, and I’m an all-out fan.

Maybe you already know that mushrooms are good for you. Maybe you’re even aware that almost every ancient civilization around the world has used mushrooms for their healing properties for thousands of years. (The Ancient Egyptians went so far as to call them the plant of immortality.)

But, do you know just how powerful edible mushrooms can be for healing people?

To begin with, humans are more closely related to fungi than to any other kingdom. Some of the essential molecules in mushrooms (fungi) have been present in the human diet for so long that our bodies now depend on them. This fact is part of the reason why they’re so good for us.

Many scientific studies have revealed a variety of ways can be useful in preventing and treating serious health conditions — and in improving overall health. There are more than 200 conditions that may benefit from mushroom consumption, and more than 100 different beneficial effects they can produce for the body.

Nutritional Value

All types of edible mushrooms contain varying degrees of protein and fiber. They also contain B vitamins, potassium, copper and the powerful antioxidant selenium, which helps to support the immune system and prevent damage to cells and tissues. In particular, white button mushrooms are one of the few non-animal sources of vitamin D.

Mushrooms are being increasingly researched and used for their important health benefits with different varieties having different medicinal properties. The Japanese, for example, are doing extensive and impressive with using mushroom as a cancer cure.

Cancer Defense

Mushrooms contain a class of proteins called lectins, which are able to bind to abnormal cells and cancer cells and label the cells for destruction by our immune system. Among the cancers that are affected are breast cancer, uterine cervix cancer, pancreatic cancer, and acute leukemia. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among American women, so has been the target of much research about mushrooms affect on it. In one study from the of 2000 women, those who consumed at least a third of an ounce of fresh mushrooms every day were 64% less likely to develop breast cancer.

Heart Health

Mushrooms have been shown to have some therapeutic properties that can help to lower cholesterol, particularly in overweight adults.  As well, their phytonutrients can help prevent cells from sticking to blood Bessel walls and forming plaque build-up, which, in turn, helps protect the heart by maintaining healthy blood pressure and circulation.

Immunity Boost

A University of Florida Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition found that eating shiitake mushrooms daily improves immunity, and in a way that is not found in any currently available pharmaceutical drugs.  And common white button mushrooms, along with some other types, may also have anti-inflammatory power. Mushrooms may also help to prevent respiratory infections, too.

Longevity Increase

A diet rich in antioxidants protects cells from free radicals, helping the body cope with normal oxidative stress that damages healthy cells. While almost any edible mushroom will give you a boost in nutrients, the following ones are proven to have the most antioxidants and may help you live longer: Porcini, Golden Oyster, Pioppino, Oyster, Lion’s Mane, Maitake, and  Shiitake.

Digestion Improvement

Mushrooms are a gut-friendly food and may be able to alter gut bacteria for the better, which could also help treat obesity, at least according to a study published in the journal Nature. They are pre-biotic, which means that they nourish the good bacteria in your gut.  They have also been found to balance the microbiome’s beneficial bacteria.

Weight Loss Achievement

Mushrooms have a lot of nutritional value with few calories and little fat. They also contain abundant fiber which increases satiety and reduces appetite. In one study, researchers gave people less meat and more mushrooms in place of meat. After just one year, people reported feeling healthier, and they lost a lot of weight, had less diabetes, and their blood pressure and cholesterol went down.

And, So…

If you’re looking to improve your health at any age and to ward off illnesses that plague Americans, add some mushrooms to your food plan. Mushrooms can be eaten raw, as I do, and certain cooking methods have been shown to actually increase some of their nutrient status. So, eat them often, often cooked, or at least warmed, in soups, saute`s, in salads and as meat substitutes.

Eating a variety of organic mushrooms regularly is best. White, cremini, Portobello, oyster, shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms are among the most popular, and there are other varieties from which to choose as well.

Take care, however, because some wild mushrooms are not edible and are toxic to humans. Don’t pick mushrooms to eat from the wild unless you have been trained to identify them, but if you want a new hobby, start growing your own!

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