Understand health benefits of mushrooms and you will discover more reasons to consumer these mushrooms in your diet
There is an array of health benefits of mushrooms that we discuss in this article below. The healthful constituents in mushrooms is one of the reasons why mushrooms are gaining a lot of popularity. Their taste is pretty great too, especially from the gourmet mushrooms we provide.
Remember, if you can’t find a variety of mushrooms where you live, you can always use our mushroom growing kits or spawn to grow your own at home!
The health benefits of mushrooms: Immunomodulation
Mushrooms have the ability to modulate the immune system, helping it get stronger if it is deficient or helping it calm down if it is overactive. Many people turn to mushrooms when considering cancer, which is a major illness associated with immunity. The study Immune Modulation From Five Major Mushrooms: Application to Integrative Oncology looks at mushrooms and the immune system, and after significant testing concludes, “As the treatment of various cancers continues to evolve, mushrooms should be considered as an adjunct therapy.”
The health benefits of mushrooms: Antioxidants & minerals
We could not talk about mushroom nutrition and forget to mention minerals and antioxidants found in mushrooms. Mushrooms contain many essential minerals, including iron, phosphor, copper, potassium and selenium. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that protects us against heart disease and some cancers. Mushrooms are one of the richest natural sources of selenium, not to mention one of the only items you’ll find in the produce aisle that has it. One single portion of mushrooms can provide a quarter of the daily needs of selenium.
The health benefits of mushrooms: Inflammation
Edible mushrooms contain the element beta-glucan, which fights inflammation and actively aids the immune system. As we age, our immunity naturally slows down, becoming less effective in fighting off infections and disease.
Mushrooms can give our immune systems a much-needed boost in both activity and immune vitality. There’s also evidence to suggest that the immune cells become more responsive to infections in the body than ever before. One particular study found that chaga mushroom extract administered to mice for 24 days had the number of white blood cells increase in their bone marrow.
The health benefits of mushrooms: Looking at dried mushrooms and extracts
There are two more important dried mushroom benefits I want to touch on today.
First, there is the mushroom’s vitamin D content. Mushrooms content a constituent in their cell walls known as ergosterol. This compound, when exposed to sunlight, is transformed into vitamin D. If we are eating dried mushrooms that have been exposed to sunlight during the winter, we can be getting a lot of vitamin D this way.
The mushrooms can be exposed to sunlight at any point to enrich the vitamin D content, including while the mushroom is in the process of drying or after it has already been dried. So either way you do it — before or after the drying process — you can still get the added benefits of vitamin D. Even if you buy dried mushrooms at the grocery store, you can put the mushrooms in sunlight for six to eight hours before consuming them and they will experience the heightened levels of vitamin D.
High levels of vitamin D is a great reason to eat more dried mushrooms, especially in the winter when people often spend less time outside in the sunshine.
Second, there is the protein content in dried mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms have about 10% protein by dried weight. This is similar to many other vegetarian options that are considered higher-protein foods, like beans. Eating a lot of dried mushrooms will help you get more protein into your diet, especially if you do not eat a lot of meat.
Mushroom extracts: A mushroom extract product is the result of fruiting bodies extracted through alcohol and water and then either offered as a liquid or processed into powder form. A mycelial extract is mycelium grown on brown rice and then extracted and freeze dried. The rice is included in these products.
When tested, the alpha and beta glucan contents (important indicators of health benefits) between these different products is massive. Historically, most studies have pointed towards beta glucans and polysaccharides as the primary marker of medicinal compounds in mushrooms. The mycelium grown on rice products have large amounts of alpha glucans, or starch, and low amounts of beta glucans, because they still contain the grain on which they were grown. The mushroom extracts are the inverse, containing high amounts of beta glucans but low levels of starch, or alpha glucans.
The reasons for using mycelium in a product instead of mushrooms are primarily related to scale and economics, the process being faster, cheaper, and easier to scale up as needed. Mushroom production, on the other hand, takes more time and is more expensive. There is no scientific reason to produce mycelial extracts instead of mushroom extracts. In a 2003 study by Paul Stamets, he confirms fruiting body extracts contain higher beta-glucan content but rice-grown mycelium produces a different constituent family, arabinoxylanes, which have similar impacts on immunomodulatory responses. Most studies focus on the beta-glucans produced by the mushrooms.