Mushrooms: Health benefits & Nutrients

Mushrooms are edible fungus that can provide several important nutrients. The many kinds of mushroom have varying compositions and nutritional profiles. Edible mushrooms like maitake and shiitake have also been used as medicine throughout history. Other mushrooms that are too tough to eat have been used solely for medicinal purposes such as reishi. Plant chemicals and components in mushrooms may exert antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer effects, but the exact mechanism is still unclear and an area of active research.

Edible mushrooms have a great nutritional value including high protein, essential amino acids, fiber, vitamins (B1, B2, B12, C, and D), minerals (calcium [Ca], potassium [K], magnesium [Mg], sodium [Na], phosphorus [P], copper [Cu], iron [Fe], manganese [Mn], and selenium [Se]), low fatty foods, and sodium.

Benefits of mushrooms

Mushrooms good for cardiovascular health: Edible mushrooms have anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, and antiplatelet aggregating properties so consumption of mushrooms may protect against the risk of cardiovascular disease. Ganoderma lucidum (also known as lingzhi or reishi) is a mushroom that has been consumed for its broad medicinal properties in Asia for over 2000 years. G lucidum is becoming increasingly popular in western countries as a complementary medicine for cardiovascular health.

Source of Anti-oxidants: Mushrooms contain high levels of ergothioneine and glutathione, two compounds with important antioxidant properties.

Brain and mental health: A hallucinogenic compound found in some mushrooms used in psychedelic treatment for conditions like depression and PTSD. Hericium erinaceus a culinary and medicinal mushroom is a well established candidate for brain and nerve health.

Anti-cancer properties: Mushrooms are rich in bioactive compounds. Higher mushroom consumption was associated with lower risk of cancer.

Mushrooms act as a prebiotics to stimulate the growth of gut microbiota: Mushrooms are rich in carbohydrates, like chitin, hemicellulose, β and α-glucans, mannans, xylans, and galactans, which make them the right choice for prebiotics. Mushrooms act as a prebiotics to stimulate the growth of gut microbiota, conferring health benefits to the host. Prebiotics are food ingredients (such as mushroom) that can stimulate the growth of beneficial microbiota.

Increase immunity: One of the myriad effects of mushrooms occurs through their ability to stimulate cytokine production. Cytokines are small, soluble proteins that act as intracellular mediators in an immune response. In traditional Chinese medicine, mushrooms have been used to modify immunity.

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