There was a time that mushrooms had a bad rap. Word was that you got fungal infections from them and they were to be avoided. Oh how wrong this was. Just like when they said margarine was better for us than butter. Then we found out about trans fats and butter turned out to be a really healthy fat.
Mushrooms have absolutely astonishing benefits
They are a curious life form in that they are not definitively plant or animal. They have some attributes of each so does that make them some sort of hybrid species?
Whatever they are, they can seriously boost your health. A recently published review found that eating 18 grams of any type of mushroom can actually reduce your risk of cancer by as much as 45 percent. They particularly found a link between high consumption of mushrooms and low risk of breast cancer.
Hippocrates knew their anti-inflammatory properties 1000’s of years ago
Mushrooms have therefore had a long history of medicinal use but it’s only very recently that western medicine has started exploring the extent of benefits of these “miniature pharmaceutical factories”.
Mushrooms are full of nutrients and a rich source of protein and fibre
They provide many essential minerals like manganese, iron, magnesium, calcium, selenium, copper and zinc. As well as also containing many vitamins and potassium and sulfur, some varieties of mushrooms contain antioxidants that are unique to them and found nowhere else.
And then there’s ergothioneine. You may not be familiar with this but it’s concentrated in our mitochondria and is thought to protect our DNA from oxidative stress.
They contain unusually high levels of the master antioxidant glutathione
This powerful antioxidant can reactivate other antioxidants and is important for the detoxification of heavy metals as well as other contaminants. There are few of us these days that don’t have some level of heavy metal toxicity.
These two powerful antioxidants (ergothioneine and glutathione) are believed to protect against many of the maladies of old age. This includes coronary heart disease, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and dementia.
Mushrooms help fight cognitive decline
Including them in your daily diet can reduce the odds of mild cognitive decline by an astonishing 43 percent.
There is however a caveat to consuming mushrooms that’s extremely important.
Eat organic mushrooms only
The reason is that fungi absorb both air and soil contaminants. And while foraging for wild mushrooms may sound like an adventure, there’s a high risk of finding one of the many species of toxic mushrooms. And it’s difficult to tell these apart from the edible varieties.
However, I find that it’s easy to find organic ones in the supermarket. And mushrooms are a great addition to so many dishes. I love a mushroom omelette and they’re perfect for stir fries. I also sometimes have fried mushrooms (using ghee) with fresh parsley as a side dish to fish or chicken instead of a carb.
The options are endless.