Mushroom Nutrition: The Benefits of Mushrooms for Your Health

The word mushroom is derived from the French word for..

Mushroom Nutrition: The Benefits of Mushrooms for Your Health

The word mushroom is derived from the French word for fungi and moulds. One day, around 1650, a melon grower near Paris discovered mushrooms growing on his growth fertiliser.

He decided to cultivate this new exotic delicacy commercially and to introduce it in exclusive Parisian restaurants.

It was at that time that the mushroom was given the nickname ‘Parisian mushroom’.

Later on, the French gardener, Chambry, discovered that the caves had just the right cool and moist environment for cultivating mushrooms. 

Afterwich a large-scale mushroom cultivation developed in the caves around Paris.

Fungi were most likely cultivated for the first time around the year 600 in Asia. In Europe, the first cultivated fungi, the mushroom, was introduced in the 17th century.

Mushrooms were introduced into the Netherlands for the first time at the beginning of the 19th century, but it was not be until after the 1900s that they were cultivated on a large-scale in the marl mines in Limburg.

In the early years, the mushroom was still very exclusive and only available to the elite.

However, since then, better and more effective methods have been developed and there has been a huge increase in mushroom cultivation.

It was only after 1950 that the Dutch consumer became familiar with the mushroom, and in the meantime. 

There are various areas in the Netherlands that specialise in the cultivation of mushrooms, mainly south of the great rivers.

The Dutch mushroom cultivation is especially known for the strict control it keeps on the cultivation.

In the last 50 years, the Netherlands has grown into the largest mushroom production country within the European Union. 

With an annual production of 270 million kilograms and more than 10,000 jobs.

Next to China and the United States, the Netherlands holds 3rd place in the market. China is in first place with 70% of the world’s production.

Every year, millions of tons of mushrooms are cultivated worldwide.

1651Discovery of the mushroom in the vicinity of Paris by sprinkling the waste from melon crops with leachate from ripe mushrooms.
1707First controlled cultivation of “edible fungi” in the vegetable garden.
1800Mushroom cultivation in the underground stone quarries, where the climate is ideal for continuous mushroom cultivation.
1825Mushrooms are cultivated on a country estate near Haarlem.
1900Mushroom cultivation in the fluweelgrotten (Velvet Caves) in Valkenburg and in the St. Pietersberg caves near Maastricht.
1934First scientific study of mushroom culture in the Research Station, Naaldwijk-The Netherlands.
1946Laboratory for mushroom culture in Houthem St.Gerlach (South Limburg) under the guidance of the great mushroom pioneers Mr. Bels, M Sc, and his wife, Dr. Bels-Koning
1950Construction of the first modern aboveground mushroom nurseries with several cultivation areas. The trays were made of concrete.
1953Establishment of the CNC, the Dutch Cooperative Mushroom Growers Association in Mook. This association initiated the founding of the Research Station for Mushroom Culture in 1957 in Horst.
1955Cultivation in wooden boxes in a tray.
1960Cultivation in wooden beds on metal trays.
1975Cultivation in fully metal trays, with mechanisation of inserting and removing the mushroom compost.

Mushrooms are valuable health food

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Low in calories, high in vegetable proteins, chitin, iron, zinc, fiber, essential amino acids, vitamins & minerals. Mushrooms also have a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Their legendary effects on promoting good health and vitality and increasing your body’s adaptive abilities have been supported by recent studies.

These studies suggest that Mushrooms are probiotic – they help our body strengthen itself and fight off illness by maintaining physiological homeostasis – restoring our bodies balance and natural resistance to disease.

Agaricus Mushroom

Agaricus is the most widely consumed mushroom in many countries, where it is regarded as a health food, due to its medicinal properties.

This is traditionally known as “God’s Mushroom” because of its near miraculous curative benefits to a wide range of disorders.

People have used it to overcome numerous diseases and disorders relating to the immune system, cardiovascular system, digestion, and for weight management, diabetes, chronic and acute allergies, cataracts, hearing difficulties, stress syndrome, chronic fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, and disorders of the liver.

Cordyceps Mushroom

Cordyceps can be a powerful stimulant for macrophage activity. Strengthening your immune system’s ability to fight against bacterial and viral infection.

Human clinical studies indicate that Cordyceps can be effective for treatment of high cholesterol, poor libido/impotence, arrhythmia, lung cancer, and chronic kidney failure.

It is also reported that Cordyceps causes smooth muscle relaxation.

This can make it especially helpful for treating chronic coughs, asthma, and other bronchial conditions.

Maitake Mushroom

Maitake is also known by the name Dancing Mushroom, famous for its taste and health benefits. In Japan, Maitake Mushroom is called “King of Mushroom”.

The fruiting body and the mycelium of Maitake are used medicinally. In China and Japan, Maitake Mushrooms have been consumed for 3000 years.

Years ago in Japan, the Maitake had monetary value and was worth its weight in silver.

Historically, Maitake has been used as a tonic and adaptogen.

It was used as a food to help promote wellness and vitality.

Traditionally, consumption of the mushroom was thought to prevent high blood pressure and cancer – two applications that have been the focal point of modern research.

Clinical research with Maitake Mushroom has increased dramatically in the past several years.

Laboratory studies have shown that Maitake Mushroom extract can inhibit the growth of tumors and stimulate the immune system of cancerous mice.

Reishi Mushroom

Reishi has been called an “immune potentiator.”

Recent studies have indicated that Reishi can have a number of other effects: Analgesic, Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant, Antiviral through inducing interferon production, Lowers blood pressure, Cardiotonic action through lowering serum cholesterol, Expectorant & Antitussive, Liver (Hepatitis)-protecting and detoxifying, protection against ionizing radiation, Antibacterial, and Anti-HIV activity. Reishi contains calcium, iron and phosphorus as well as vitamins C, D, and B – including pantothenic acid, which is essential to nerve function and the adrenal glands.

Shiitake Mushroom

Shiitake (for centuries called “Elixir of Life” ) has been licensed as a anti-cancer drug by the Japanese FDA. Lentinan has shown some effect on bowel cancer, liver cancer, stomach cancer, ovarian cancer and lung cancer.

Lentinan stimulates the production of T lymphocytes and natural killer cells and can potentiate the effect of AZT in the anti-viral treatment of A.I.D.S. Shiitake is rich in several anti-oxidants (Selenium, Uric acid & Vitamin A, E, & C) as well as Vitamin D.

Shiitake mushrooms may also lower blood pressure in those with hypertension, lower serum cholesterol levels, increase libido, stimulate the production of Interferon which has anti-viral effects, and has proven effective against Hepatitis in some cases.

Yun Zhi Mushroom

Yun Zhi, or the Cloud Mushroom, has been used to dispel dampness, reduce phlegm, treat pulmonary infections, to strengthen the tendons and bones, for vital energy, and to support liver health.

11 Interesting Benefits Of Mushroom

The health benefits of mushrooms include relief from high cholesterol levels, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and diabetes.
It also helps in weight loss, and increases the strength of your immune system.

Almost all of us are familiar with mushrooms and their miraculous, beneficial powers.

These aren’t just popular culture references, they are actually symbolic representations of the actual health benefits of mushrooms.

They truly can make you bigger and protect you against diseases and infections, as they are full of proteins, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antibiotics and antioxidants.

Mushrooms are edible fungi with various scientific names, but the family name is “Agaricus”, and then there are many secondary names for different species.

They are essentially Saprophytes, the organisms (plants without chlorophyll) which thrive by extracting nutrients from dead and decaying plant and animal matter.

They vary greatly in their color, texture, shape and properties.

There are approximately 140,000 species of mushroom-forming fungi in the world. 

But science is only familiar with about 10%, while only 100 species or so are being studied for their potential health benefits and medicinal applications.

Some of the most well-known benefits are explained below.

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Health Benefits Of Mushrooms

Cholesterol Levels:

Mushrooms themselves provide you with lean proteins since they have no cholesterol or fat and are very low carbohydrates.

The fiber and certain enzymes in mushrooms also help lower cholesterol levels.

Moreover, the high lean protein content found in them helps burn cholesterol when they are digested.

Balancing levels of cholesterol between LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) and HDL (“good” cholesterol) is essential in the prevention of various cardiovascular diseases like artherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke.


Anemic patients are characterized by having low levels of iron in their blood, resulting in fatigue, headaches, reduced neural function, and digestive issues.

Mushrooms are a good source of iron, and over 90% of the nutritive iron value can be absorbed by the body. 

Which promotes the formation of red blood cells and keeps people healthy and functioning at their full potential.

Breast Cancer & Prostate Cancer: 

Mushrooms are very effective in preventing breast and prostate cancer due to the significant presence of Beta-Glucans and conjugated Linoleic Acid. 

Which both have anti-carcinogenic effects.

Out of these two, linoleic acid is particularly helpful in suppressing the harmful effects of excess estrogen.

This increase in estrogen is one of the prime causes for breast cancer in women after menopause.

The Beta-Glucans, on the other hand, inhibit the growth of cancerous cells in cases of prostate cancer.

And numerous studies have shown the antitumor properties of mushrooms when applied medicinally.


Mushrooms are an ideal low-energy diet for diabetics.

They have no fats, no cholesterol, very low levels of carbohydrates, high protein content, and a wealth of vitamins and minerals.

They also contain a lot of water and fiber.

Moreover, they contain natural insulin and enzymes which help the breaking down of sugar or starch in food.

They are also known to contain certain compounds which help proper functioning of the liver, pancreas and other endocrine glands. 

Thereby promoting the formation of insulin and its proper regulation throughout the body.

Diabetics often suffer from infections, particularly in their limbs, which tend to continue for long periods of time.

The natural antibiotics in mushrooms can help protect diabetics from these painful and potentially life-threatening conditions.

Bone Health:

Mushrooms are a rich source of calcium, which is an essential nutrient in the formation and strength of bones.

A steady supply of calcium in the diet can reduce your chances of developing conditions like osteoporosis. 

And can also reduce joint pain and general lack of mobility that is associated with bone degradation.

Nutrient Absorption:

Vitamin D is a relatively rare vitamin to find in vegetables, and in fact, edible forms in general are not particularly common.

However, mushrooms have it, and this essential vitamin can facilitate the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorous.

They also contains levels of these two nutrients. 

So the combined effects of having all of these nutrients in one powerful source, mushrooms, makes it a good idea to eat them whenever possible.

Immune System Strength:

Ergothioneine, a powerful antioxidant present in mushrooms, is very effective in providing protection from free radicals as well as boosting the immune system.

It is actually an amino acid that contains sulfur, which is something that many people are deficient in, despite not knowing it or seeing its effects.

That being said, the presence of this “master antioxidant” which is unique to mushrooms, can give you a major boost to immune system health.

It helps to eliminate free radicals, which are the dangerous compounds that are released during the metabolic processes of cells. 

And can float throughout the body and cause significant damage and disease, so antioxidants, like ergothioneine, are vital elements for overall health.

Mushrooms contain natural antibiotics (similar to penicillin, which itself is extracted from mushrooms), which inhibit microbial growth and other fungal infections.

Those same polysaccharides, beta-glucans, can stimulate and regulate the body’s immune system. They can also help heal ulcers and ulcerous wounds and protect them from developing infections.

The good combination of vitamins A, vitamin B-Complex and vitamin C that is found in them also strengthens the immune system.

Blood Pressure:

Studies of various types of mushrooms, including shitake and maitake mushrooms, have shown them to be high in potassium content.

Potassium acts as a vasodilator, relaxing tension in blood vessels and therefore reducing blood pressure.

High blood pressure is connected to a number of deadly conditions, particularly heart attacks and strokes.

Potassium also increases cognitive function, because increased blood and oxygen flow to the brain stimulates neural activity.

Studies have shown that increased levels of potassium improve memory and knowledge retention.

Copper Content:

Copper has a number of beneficial effects on the body, and can be found in mushrooms.

This can regulate and stimulate the absorption of iron from food. And properly utilize it by getting it released from primary storage spots in the body like the liver.

Mushrooms also have high levels of iron. So the two work together for healthy bones and preventing anemia.

Selenium Content:

The selenium content in mushrooms is one of the most beneficial elements that is often overlooked.

The primary source of selenium is in animal proteins; however, due to their classification as fungi that feed off animal and plant matter, mushrooms are the best way for vegetarians to obtain the necessary amount of selenium. 

Selenium is found in large quantities in mushrooms. And can benefit bone health by adding to bone strength and increasing durability.

It also strengthens the teeth, hair, and nails.

Furthermore, this essential nutrient is a powerful antioxidant, which rids the body of free radicals and generally strengthens the immune system.

The bioavailability of selenium in mushrooms differs on species.

But the majority of commonly consumed mushrooms have significant levels of this important mineral.

Weight Loss:

Would you believe me if I said that a completely lean protein diet is ideal for losing fat and building muscle mass?

Well, believe it or not, it’s true. 

Most fats are burnt to digest proteins found in our food, more so when the protein is accompanied by a very low carbohydrate count, no fat or cholesterol, and a good amount of fiber.

This is exactly the combination that mushrooms offer to help in losing weight!

Due to their nutrient density, they actually rank higher than most fruits and vegetables. 

And some researchers say that mushrooms are one of the rare foods that people can eat as often as possible, with no side effects.

One study replaced red meat with white button cap mushrooms. 

Approximately one cup per day, and found that those test subjects who ate mushrooms not only lost a significant amount of weight over a standard period of time. 

But they also decreased their waistline.

And were better able to maintain their new weight, rather than ballooning back to the original weight as in most crash diets.

A Few Words of Caution:

On a much more serious note, mushrooms can be very dangerous!

Most species of mushrooms are not edible, are highly poisonous and look strikingly similar to their edible counterparts.

Don’t ever try picking mushrooms for consumption from the woods unless you have been trained to identify them very well.

Mushrooms have the unique ability to absorb the material that they grow on, either good or bad.

This quality is what gives mushrooms so much of their beneficial power, but also their dangerous aspects.

Many mushrooms, when picked in the wild, contain heavy metals, which can be very toxic, as well as air and water pollutants.

Also, do not trust any unknown vendors when you buy mushrooms.

Always trust sealed products from reputable companies or those which you have grown yourself under controlled conditions after buying their seeds (called spawns) from a trusted source.

A single poisonous mushroom among others in a dish can threaten a large amount of people’s health, resulting in comas, severe poison symptoms, nausea, vomiting, convulsions, cramps, insanity.

Many species can even be fatal if ingested. 

Always avoid eating discolored ones or those which are different in color than the typically accepted color of their species.

Daniel Messer, RNutr, CPT

We eat clean, are always motivated and helpout beginners in need. We sell guides on Cutting, Bulking and Muscle Building. Checkout our website!

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