National Mushroom Day is not only for the mushroom fans out there. Mushrooms have powerful effects on your health.
Heck, many even consider it a miracle food! With immune boosting properties, vitamins, fibre and tons of antioxidants it’s fair to say they have a lot to offer our bodies.
So in celebration we’re here to tell you everything you need to know about the benefits of mushrooms.
Today is a great day to appreciate mushrooms, get in the know and learn about this common staple food.
Are mushrooms vegetables?
Where do they grow and just how nutritious are these little guys?
These are perfectly valid questions. In fact, most people mistakenly think of mushrooms as veggies and often don’t realise just how powerful they can be.
So time to set the facts straight. Mushrooms are NOT vegetables. Unlike most fresh food we eat, mushrooms don’t need sunlight to grow.
They’re actually the fruit of fungus that grows underground. And you know what they love most? MOISTURE. Lots and lots of it. Ick, we know, but don’t let this put you off.
From brown and white to Portobello and Shiitake there are loads of different mushroom varieties you can use in your dishes and they’re all equally delicious. But we’re not here to talk about the different types – that’s for you to discover on your own.
Here are the facts about mushrooms…
- They’re made up of 92 percent water
- Science says they satisfy you more than fruit and vegetables
- They have ZERO fat
- They’re high in vitamins and minerals
- A 80g serving (around 14 baby button mushrooms) can count towards your 5-a-day
- They’re really cheaper than meat!
1. They can help you lose weight
If you’re trying to cut down calories in your diet without the dread of being hungry all the time then mushrooms are the way to go!
“Edible mushrooms are low in calories so they can help with weight loss or maintenance. 100g provides just 40 calories yet they are reasonably rich in nutrients.”
And because of their meaty texture they’re even a great alternative to meat. But beware! Don’t go too crazy with the garlic butter – mushrooms are like sponges so they will soak up all the oils and fats that they can.
2. They’re a good source of selenium
But they’re not just good for losing weight, they’re fabulous for your skin, hair and nails too. All thanks to the beauty-loving mineral, selenium of course.
“Mushrooms are one of the best vegetable sources of the mineral selenium which helps keep your hair and nails healthy, and supports production of thyroid hormones that control your metabolism.”
Selenium also helps keep your skin glowing by protecting its quality and elasticity but don’t try supplementing this.
If you get too much it could be harmful. The best way to get selenium is through a healthy diet (and lots of mushrooms obviously).
3. They promote healthy sperm
Trying for a baby? Get some mushrooms into your man’s diet!
Food sources: Reishi mushrooms strengthen the immune system, are anti-inflammatory and can prevent and treat candida yeast growth in the colon which can make it hard for sperm to function. You would have to eat a lot of them to reap the benefits so look to taking a capsule instead. Shiitake and cordyceps are also good choices and can be eaten whole.
But if you’re already pregnant, you’re still in luck! Pregnant women need more folate but often times they can fall deficient. The best thing to do is eat foods rich in folate which of course includes mushrooms!
4. They’re immune boosting
With winter just around the corner, right now is a good time to start stocking up on mushrooms. Purely for their immune boosting qualities!
“Mushrooms contain substances called beta-glucans, which can support and strengthen the immune system. Those said to have the strongest effects include Shiitake mushrooms, which can be found in some supermarkets and good health food stores.”
Just a sprinkle of sesame seeds, chopped garlic, and a dash of soy sauce is all you need for a simple yet healthy sautéed meal. Ladies, get buying!
5. They’re a good source of vitamin D
Vitamin D is vital for our health. It allows the body to absorb calcium, helping to make strong bones and teeth.
But it’s true, mushrooms grow underground so how in the world can they be rich in vitamin D? The answer is easy.
“Simply unwrap your mushrooms and place them outdoors between the hours of 10am and 3pm for 30 minutes in the spring and summer months.” Easy-peasy, right? Remember, mushrooms are like sponges and will easily soak up the Vitamin D from the sun!
6. They’re great for your gut
If your diet is low in fibre, chances are you’re feeling pretty crap. Constipation, weight gain and fatigue are only a few of the symptoms you can get when you’re lacking. BUT if you’re a mushroom lover you won’t have to worry about this. Mushrooms are a good source of fibre, particularly soluble fibre.
“Eating more soluble fibre, will help boost the numbers of good bacteria in your gut. These provide us with some nutrients (vitamins B & K), keep harmful bacteria at bay and the by-products of their action can help lower cholesterol levels and help us better manage our blood sugar levels (reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes).”
Think of mushrooms as a natural alternative to probiotics!
7. They’re known as a ‘miracle food’
For thousands of years mushrooms have been touted for their health benefits in the Eastern countries with Chinese and Egyptians being among the first to put their benefits to use.
Cassandra says, “The so-called ‘medicinal’ mushrooms such as reishi, maitake and Shiitake have been used in China for many years for their health-promoting properties.
”Their traditional uses include supporting the liver, reducing blood pressure, supporting the lungs and of course strengthening the immune system.”
People take advantage of these benefits in many different mushroom forms, such as Reishi Mushroom Tea which is known to significantly improve your overall wellbeing in just a matter of months! It’s one to try, that’s for sure.
8. They help lower you cholesterol
When it comes to heart health, you can depend on the Shiitake mushroom.
“They contain a unique substance called eritadenine that is mainly responsible for this effect – but they also contain beta-glucans, phytosterols and fibre which can also support healthy cholesterol levels and a healthy heart,”
One thing to be mindful of when preparing shiitake is NOT to wash them. Wiping them is fine, but if you rinse them all they’re gonna do is absorb the water and turn into soggy muck. The best thing to do is take a wet damp kitchen roll and wipe them clean. That’s all it takes ladies!
9. They’re antioxidant-rich
When it comes to healthy eating we love our antioxidants. So we were thrilled to find out that mushrooms are a great source but the best part?
They have AS MANY antioxidants as vegetables do.
“White button mushrooms appear to have more antioxidant capacity than tomatoes, green peppers and carrots”. Which is all the more reason to start including mushrooms in your diet more often.
“Antioxidants help cells in the body ward off damage from dangerous oxygen molecules called free radicals.
Free radicals may play a role in ageing and illnesses such as heart disease and various types of cancer.” So make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need. Food is your medicine.
10. Energy boosting
Feeling tired and out of sorts? Get the spark back in your life with mushrooms!
We know. It’s probably the last thing that comes to mind when you think about boosting your energy but mushrooms are actually an amazing source of all the B vitamins, AKA THE energy boosting vit.
“They are great sources of vitamins B2, B3 and B5, all of which help our body to produce energy from the foods that we eat,”.
11. They make a great vegetarian dish
If you’re vegan or vegetarian you may already know that you’re at higher risk for being deficient in vitamin B12, which is mainly found in animal products. This why eating mushrooms is such a brilliant choice for you!
“As well as containing good levels of zinc and selenium, which are mainly found in animal foods, mushrooms have a lovely meaty texture and are particularly filling, adding variety and taste to any vegetarian dish.” Go on, get your fungi flag flying!
Try this amazing recipe for Stuffed Mushrooms…
- 1lb mushroom
- 3 slices bacon, chopped fine
- 1⁄2 cup chopped onion
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1⁄2 cup soft breadcrumbs
- 1⁄4 teaspoon oregano
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- Remove stems from mushrooms and chop fine.
- Put bacon, stems, onion, and garlic in a frying pan and saute in small amount butter or olive oil.
- Cook until onion is soft, then drain.
- Stir in remaining ingredients.
- Stuff mushroom caps with this mixture.
- Bake on a cookie sheet at 375F degrees for 10 minutes.