As we know, there are foods that are more healthy than others because their consumption brings benefits to our health in many ways due to their nutritional properties. One of these foods, sometimes considered a superfood, is the mushroom.
Mushrooms are highly valued in the kitchen thanks to their unique flavour, but as well as bringing taste and texture to food, for years they have also been used therapeutically, mainly in Eastern cultures, to help heal certain illnesses.
While it is unusual to link the consumption of mushrooms with a specific remedy, according to research, often consuming mushrooms frequently is a great way to prevent the development of certain diseases.
Mushrooms are fungi, ie belonging to the fungi kingdom, so their features can differ from those of plants, with which we normally associate mushrooms.
This foodgroup is rich in vitamins, such as vitamin B complex, minerals such as potassium, and are also good sources of fibre.
There are many different types of mushrooms and although their properties may not be the same, they remain being beneficial for our health.
One of the most widely consumed type of mushroom in the world is the champignon, which is rich in B-complex vitamins and potassium, and also associated with lowering the risk of certain cancers.
There are other types as well, such as the shiitake mushroom, rich in iron and other minerals such as manganese, copper, phosphorus, potassium, selenium and zinc. The shiitake mushroom is often used in oriental recipes, however, today it has gained popularity for the benefits to our health, most notably the prevention of some cancers, optimizing our immune system, and protection of the cardiovascular system.
Furthermore, there are other mushrooms, with similar properties, such as brown mushrooms or portobello cups which have a somewhat earthy taste, but its use in the kitchen is vast, often serving as a substitute for meat or other animal-sourced proteins.
Benefits of Mushrooms
There are many types of mushrooms which can be consumed, and as mentioned before, their benefits are variable. However, the truth is that this food has caught the attention of experts who have identified how the consumption of mushrooms could be a healthy habit.
Against cancer: Studies have linked the consumption of mushrooms with a lower risk of certain cancers, and have suggested that some mushroom extracts could reduce the progression of prostate cancer.
Similarly, it has been found that eating raw mushrooms and green tea often can reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Problems with diabetes and cholesterol: Studies in mice have suggested that eating raw mushrooms can reduce cholesterol levels and improve conditions like diabetes to help regulate blood glucose levels.
Dental health: A study focused on monitoring the effects of mushroom extract on dental health has proven that a rinse made with shiitake mushroom extract can be good way to fight plaque. It may fail in this respect when compared to commercial mouthwashes, however when gum inflammation is concerned, shiitake mushroom extract is itself superior.
Weigh maintenance and loss: Mushrooms are an excellent food for when we want to lose weight. This is due to their low calorie content and also the amount of fibre they contain. This makes it an ideal food for feeling full without having to resort to more high-calorie foods.
According to experts, mushrooms can make an excellent substitute for meat, providing a low-fat and low calory option that also tastes very good. A study has shown that replacing meat with champignons or other mushrooms can help you lose weight without much sacrifice.
To improve memory: With age, memory may be affected and it is relatively common for older adults have problems with memory. However, researchers have discovered that mushrooms can be good allies against the deterioration of the mind.
In a study in which two groups of adults with memory problems were treated with supplementation of mushroom extracts and placebo respectively, it was found that the first group showed less deterioration and even signs of improvement during supplementation. It was also noted that after finishing the supplementation, the positive effects began to disappear, so it was concluded that supplementation in these cases must be continuous.
Note: When you eat mushrooms, always remember to acquire them from reliable sources. Never consume a wild mushroom without knowing what it is as there are some varieties that are toxic and may pose a serious health risk.
“Superfoods: The top ten of Nature” (2015).
Myrna Chandler and Mark Allan. Editorial: Sirio.