Mushrooms medicinally for centuries, dating all the way back to ancient Egypt. Legend has it that pharaohs liked their earthy flavor so much, they declared the fungi royalty food and forbid commoners from touching them. Those greedy pharaohs kept the entire supply for themselves.
Mushrooms are the leading source of the antioxidant nutrient selenium in the produce aisle. Antioxidants, like selenium, protect body cells from damage that might lead to chronic diseases and help to strengthen the immune system, as well. In addition, mushrooms provide ergothioneine, a naturally occurring antioxidant that may help protect the body’s cells.
Whether you eat them raw or cooked, here are some of the health benefits you’ll get when you add mushrooms to your diet. Preliminary research suggests increasing intake of low-energy-dense foods (meaning few calories given the volume of food), specifically mushrooms, in place of high-energy-dense foods, like lean ground beef, can be helpful with weight management as they promote daily energy by limiting fat intake and leaving you full and satiated after a meal.
It help recipes taste better in place of salt because they contain glutamate ribonucleotides. Those compounds contribute a savory, umami taste with no ramifications for your blood pressure or heart disease risk. An entire cup of mushrooms has only 5 mg sodium! Mushrooms also make an excellent, satisfying substitute for red meat in any dish, eliminating calories, fat, and cholesterol from the equation.
Certain varieties of mushrooms have been shown to have potential in protecting against cancer by protecting our cells against DNA damage but also inhibiting tumour formation. There is also some evidence that they may be beneficial in the treatment and management of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
This had a lower risk of developing prostate cancer. Those who consumed mushrooms three or more times per week had a 17% lower risk than those who ate mushrooms less than once a week. It was especially significant for men 50 or older. The results were published in the International Journal of Cancer.
These are one of the few food sources for vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin that our bodies can make with exposure to sunlight, because growers are exposing their crops to small amounts of ultraviolet light, WebMD reports. Button mushrooms and criminis in particular are high in vitamin D, but criminis are high in another key vitamin, too: vitamin B12, which is key for vegetarians as it’s most often found in animal products. B vitamins are important because they convert food into fuel for our bodies, giving us energy; D vitamins are important because they help our bodies absorb calcium and promote bone growth.
It has a low-calorie food that packs a nutritional punch. Loaded with many health-boosting vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, they’ve long been recognized as an important part of any diet. For instance, mushrooms raised with exposure to ultraviolet light are a good source of Vitamin D, an important component in bone and immune health.
The cell walls of mushrooms are tough, making it difficult for the digestive system to get to all the nutrients inside them, Weil writes. Mushrooms often contain chemical compounds that can interfere with digestion and nutrient absorption. Sufficient cooking breaks down the tough cell walls, inactivates the anti-digestive elements and destroys many toxins.