What Are the Health Benefits of Eating Mushrooms?
Why are mushrooms called superfoods?
“You either love ‘em or hate ‘em”. How many food items have we heard being described in this way? To my knowledge, mushrooms are high on the list. They have many descriptive adjectives attached to them. Delicious, magical, deadly, intoxicating, and the list goes on. But why are mushrooms considered superfoods, and what are the health benefits of eating mushrooms?
Okay, I don’t know if it’s 15 mushrooms health benefits we are going to explore here, but it is definitely a lot!
Mushrooms are more popular than they have ever been (almost annoyingly so), not only for their palate pleasing taste and versatility in recipes but for their medicinal value. Usually thought of as kin to vegetables, they are actually a type of fungus, as gross as that sounds.
More and more these days you hear mushrooms being called “superfoods”. Well, I’m hear to tell you why they are, in fact, worthy of that designation.
First, Please Don’t Die
The plump, soft, cream colored ones you buy in the store are delicious. But the ones growing wild must be foraged very carefully. Some are delectable but others are deadly. Bottom line: Don’t hunt for mushrooms without a knowledgeable mushroom guide.
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Many Types of Mushrooms
We are going to list what the health benefits of eating mushrooms are, but we’ll do it by type. The benefits of each type are similar, but certain types are stronger in some areas than others, and vice versa.
Some types include lions mane, portobello, chaga, agarikon, cordyceps, maitake, reishi, oyster, porcini, shiitake, truffle, portobello, crimini and turkeytail.
The types of mushrooms we most commonly hear about as being “superfoods”, or medicinal are reishi, lion’s mane, turkeytail, chaga, cordyceps, maitake, and there are a few others (This article goes in depth about each one). The ones we will discuss today are the more common types that you buy in the produce section, but they are also very healthy, and typically more versatile for culinary purposes.
Let’s go through a few of these mushrooms’ health benefits, and later we’ll show you where you can buy awesome mushroom coffee:
Medicinal Mushrooms Health Benefits
The crown jewel, cream of the crop, top of the heap mushroom is the truffle.
These babies have become one of the most expensive foods in the world. They grow near oak, beech, hazel, and chestnut trees and are sniffed out by, believe it or not, dogs and pigs that have been trained to recognize their distinct odor. Truffle farmers are trained to be very careful with these treasures. It is forbidden to touch a truffle with their bare hands, causing the fungi to rot. Hence the hefty price tag.
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Lion’s Mane Mushrooms Health Benefits
Probably the best known of Lion’s Mane Mushrooms’ health benefits are their ability to increase cognitive function, like focus and memory. But it is even known to help repair nerve damage. They can defend against dementia, as well as depression and anxiety.
Lion’s Mane mushrooms can help reduce the risk of heart disease, as well as aiding in the control of blood sugar levels and symptoms of diabetes.
Lion’s Mane mushroom is known to also help with reducing Inflammation, repairing liver damage, and building immunity.
Here is a more detailed article on Lion’s Mane mushrooms and their health benefits.
Shiitake Mushrooms Health Benefits
These mushrooms are rich in a ton of vitamins and nutrients, as well as amino acids, and more.
Shiitake mushrooms’ health benefits include the promotion of a strong immune system, improved circulation and blood pressure reduction.
They are also said to help fight bacteria, viruses and even cancer, as well as helping with energy and brain function.
Read more about Shiitake mushrooms health benefits and more here.
Portobello Mushrooms Health Benefits
Portobello mushrooms contain lots of L-ergothioneine and conjugated linoleic acid, which make them particularly good at helping to prevent cancer and other conditions that tend to show up when we age. They attack free-radicals in the body and are very good at eliminating toxins.
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Crimini Mushrooms Health Benefits
Crimini mushrooms are the most common and are an excellent source of zinc, which is vital for the optimal growth of infants and children. They also contain a good amount of vitamin D (as do all mushrooms), iron and copper. Crimini mushrooms are also high in fiber and very low in calories.
Another of crimini mushrooms’ health benefits is that they improve metabolism, due to their high vitamin B content.
You can read more about Crimini mushrooms health benefits and more here.
And then there are the bad dudes. Hallucinogenic mushrooms are usually associated with 60’s culture. However archaeological evidence proves that centuries ago these types of ‘shrooms’ were actually used in religious ceremonies in ancient Mexico.
Mushrooms of all varieties are low in calories but pack a nutritional punch. Those raised with exposure to ultraviolet light are an excellent source of vitamin D.
They are also excellent sources of potassium which reduces the negative impact that sodium can have on the body.
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Mushrooms Good For Weight Loss
Weight loss is another benefit of consuming these cream colored beauties. A research group, after substituting twenty percent of their beef consumption with mushrooms showed a marked improvement in their BMI index and belly circumference.
Helpful hint: Exchange beef patties for a plump, seasoned, grilled portobello mushroom cap in your burgers. Delicious.
A Chinese study found that certain types of mushroom/fungus varieties boost exercise performance, especially for seniors. Animal studies suggest that the consumption of these versatile little guys and gals can alleviate non-alcoholic fatty liver disease due to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These same properties help reduce inflammation of the brain which is one cause of neurodegeneration.
Mushrooms are also great sources of selenium, copper, thiamine, magnesium, and phosphorous. There just seems to be nothing this miracle food is missing. And, ya wanna talk nutrition, one cup of criminis, for example, contains a mere fifteen calories but packs a nutritional value as follows:
- protein – 2.2 grams
- fat – 0.2 grams
- carbohydrates – 2.3 grams
- fiber – 0.7 grams
- sugar – 1.4 grams
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Suggestions for adding mushrooms to your meals:
- sprinkled raw over your everyday meals to add texture and flavor
- add to homemade pizza (way healthier than store bought)
- saute with garlic and butter for a delicious side dish (mmmm…with steak and baked potatoes)
- add to homemade pasta sauce
- cream of mushroom soup (from scratch, of course)
- add to stir fries
- pop into a nice fluffy omelet for a healthy and tasty breakfast.
- can I interest you in an appetizer consisting of stuffed mushroom caps
There, now you can rush to your local grocery store or outdoor market and stock up on these versatile, nutritious, and crazy beneficial little guys. Just be sure to wash them very well. Or maybe you could go to your local health food store while you are out and purchase mushroom coffee, cocoa, and teas, as well as bottles of supplements guaranteed to make you click your heels together. Well…maybe just walk with a bounce in your step.
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- Infused with a powerful blend of Organic Immune Supporting mushrooms: Cordyceps Sinensis, Maitake, Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi), Shiitake, Agaricus Blazei and Coriolis Versicolor (Turkey Tail).
- No mushroom taste guaranteed! Only fresh roasted coffee flavor!
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- Truly a guilt-free choice!
- Roasted frequently and in small batches, with love.
So, why mushrooms are called superfoods ought to now be clear, as should the health benefits of eating mushrooms and what mushrooms health benefits correspond to different types of mushroom.
Maybe you ended up here because you heard that mushrooms are good for weight loss. Now you know that they are, indeed!
Flop a lip over a mushroom today. Your health will thank you.
10 thoughts on “Why Are Mushrooms Called Superfoods? | 15 Mushrooms Health Benefits”
Usually when food tastes much more bland than you remember, it is also less nutritious, too (far less, in many cases). It’s not your imagination! It is because of how they grow them for quick and huge crop yields.
Here is an article all about that, if you are interested:
Why Is Food So Bland?
It seems to be the case that much of the nutrients can be lost by cooking them, but as you say, it depends how they are cooked. Since it is true that mushrooms aren’t so good to eat raw, I guess it becomes a moot point.
Thanks for sharing your findings!
Here in the UK, I remember walking through cherry tree orchards early morning with my great uncle. He had worked on the farm all his life and knew exactly which mushrooms were safe and which were poisonous. I’m sure I learned from him, but after all these years I have forgotten. So I’m afraid it’s supermarket mushrooms for me these days. However, an observation of mine is that mass-produced mushrooms don’t taste anything like those I picked as a boy. Is it me, or am I correct in my thinking?
I really enjoyed this informative article on these different types of mushrooms. I’ll be looking at implementing these in my wife and I’s diet. She struggles with diabetes, high blood pressure and heart issues. All of them look great but in particular the Lion’s Mane and Shiitake.
I was curious if you did research on Do mushrooms lose benefits when cooked? I searched Google a bit and found by volume, cooked mushrooms are nutritionally comparable to raw mushrooms. However, a cup of cooked mushrooms contains twice as many mushrooms as a cup of raw mushrooms. Each mushroom loses up to half of its nutrients, particularly its water-soluble vitamin content, when it is cooked.
Also, saw “When mushrooms were cooked by microwave or grill, the content of polyphenol and antioxidant activity increased significantly, and there are no significant losses in nutritional value of the cooked mushrooms” says Roncero.
Also, I search this question — Are mushrooms more healthy raw or cooked?
“Mushrooms have very tough cell walls and are essentially indigestible if you don’t cook them. Thoroughly heating them releases the nutrients they contain, including protein, B vitamins, and minerals, as well as a wide range of novel compounds not found in other foods,” (Prevention, Feb 1, 2013)
I looked forward to putting them more into our diet! – thanks!
Hi Michel, and thanks for the comments.
I have never come across the Lion’s mane or the like in any grocery store in Canada. Not sure what a person would have to do to get fresh ones here…
Really interesting article on mushrooms and I had no idea that they were so beneficial for one’s health, well most of them anyway. Some of them I have never tried or heard of before and now I definitely want to try the Lions Main mushroom, that is if I can find them.
My favorite so far are portobello as the tast great in everything. Most people however prefer them cooked I love them raw.
Thanks, Mimie. Yes, a person should definitely know a poisonous mushroom from a non-poisonous one, before munching out in some field, lol.
Yummy yummy mushrooms. I love them and I don’t mind including them in all my meals. I like the part you said it helps to shed belly fat. I didn’t know they have got all these benefits. I have never tried to eat raw mushrooms, but will try.
I also heard that they can be very poisonous, so yes, I do agree with you. You should always be careful. It’s always better to buy from supermarkets to avoid getting yourself in trouble..
Some people have to find things out the hard way… 😀
Thanks, my friend.
You want to be careful if you come accross a mushroom that looks anything like the one in your first photo image here. Thats fliagaric mushroom and it can get you absolutely nutted and hallucinating. But it can also kill you. A friend of mine done it wrong and ended up in intensive care with collapsed kidneys.