health benefits of mushrooms

Health Benefits of Mushrooms

Mushrooms offer a rich array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. A 1-cup serving of mushrooms provides riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid as well as selenium, potassium, vitamin D, and protein.

A polysaccharide compound in mushrooms called beta-glucan helps fight some cancers and may slow down the growth of tumors. They’re low in fat, sodium and calories.

Lowers Risk of Cancer

Mushrooms provide a cancer-prevention boost by supplying vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, including ergothioneine and glutathione. These are a type of antioxidant found in fungi and have been shown to promote cellular health and prevent cancer.

One of the most interesting mushroom health benefits comes from lion’s mane mushrooms, which have been shown to repair and regenerate neurons in the brain, protecting against neurological conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers have also found that a diet high in ergothioneine may reduce the risk of mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, which is often a precursor to dementia.

A recent observational study published in Advances in Nutrition found that people who regularly eat mushrooms have a lower cancer risk than those who rarely eat them, especially breast and prostate cancer. [3]

Boosts Immune System

Mushrooms offer immune-boosting benefits that are well worth adding to your diet. Traditionally used in traditional and herbal medicine for millennia, mushrooms can help fight off the common cold and support adrenal health.

In addition to their antioxidant content, many mushrooms contain important nutrients, including fiber and protein. They are naturally low in sodium and fat, helping maintain healthy blood pressure levels.

A number of mushroom varieties, such as turkey tail, lion’s mane, cordyceps and maitake, are well-known to enhance the body’s natural immunity. These mushrooms contain polysaccharides, which have been shown to stimulate our innate immune system. The fungi are also thought to protect against stress and improve cognitive function. [51]

Lowers Risk of Mild Cognitive Impairment

Mushrooms, toadstools or fungi – whatever you call them, new research shows that they can help keep your brain sharp. Seniors who eat at least two standard portions (a serving is roughly three-fourths of a cup of cooked mushrooms) per week cut their risk of mild cognitive impairment by 50%, researchers found.

Mild cognitive impairment is when you begin to have problems with your memory, language and thinking that are a bit more serious than normal age-related changes. It can also increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s dementia.

Researchers believe the mushroom-related benefits may have something to do with a compound called ergothioneine. This is an antioxidant that protects the brain, and a 2017 study from Penn State suggests it might also help prevent Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders.

Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Cardiovascular disease – including heart attacks and stroke – kills more men than cancer and accounts for more of the deaths of women in Canada than any other health condition. Mushrooms are low in calories and fat, while providing a good source of fibre and containing a number of bioactive compounds (such as ergosterol, phenolic acids and chitosan).

Mushrooms provide a significant amount of B vitamins, including folate, which contributes to healthy cells, especially red blood cell production. They also contain potassium, a mineral that helps to lower high blood pressure. Button mushrooms are an excellent source of vitamin D, which the body converts from fungus-derived ergosterol when exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D is important for bone health and muscle function, and only three ounces of button mushrooms can deliver the entire daily recommended dose of this vitamin.

Helps Prevent Dementia

Researchers are starting to uncover diets, lifestyle choices and foods that have side-effect-free potential to delay or even reverse terminal human diseases like dementia. Among them are mushrooms, which contain antioxidants and biomolecules that promote nerve growth.

One of the best is lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus), which has been shown to help protect against neurological damage and promotes the growth of new neurons in preclinical animal trials. A recent double-blind study on patients with Alzheimer’s disease showed that lion’s mane extracts significantly improved cognitive function compared to a placebo.

Mushrooms provide a rich source of potassium, which is essential for heart health. They also add savory umami flavor to dishes, helping recipes taste better with less salt — a healthy trick for people trying to lower their sodium intake.

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