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Mushrooms, which are scientifically known as Agaricus campestris, are fleshy spores with an earthy, robust flavor. There are many mushroom varieties, some of which include cremini, oyster, and portabella. Most mushrooms can be enjoyed raw or cooked. Popular cooked preparations include sauteed, stuffed, atop pizza, and fried. Best of all, mushrooms are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and tons of antioxidants. Many of the nutrients found in mushrooms have been scientifically connected to the mitigation of many chronic illnesses. Read on to see how incorporating mushrooms into your diet may improve your overall health.
Important Note: Each of the claims made herein is supported by the most current scientific research at the time of this publication.
Though not technically classified as a vegetable, they’re in fact a fungus, mushrooms have many of the same beneficial nutrients as vegetables. For starters, mushrooms are a low-calorie, zero fat, zero carbohydrate, low-sodium, and cholesterol-free addition to any meal. One of the mushroom’s greatest brags is that they’re loaded with beta-glucan, a soluble fiber that’s good for digestion, blood sugar control, heart health, and cholesterol regulation. Additionally, mushrooms contain laudable levels of B vitamins, potassium, and copper, each of which has its own significant health benefits. The B vitamins are good for heart and skin health, potassium is good for heart and nerve function, and copper is good for oxygenating cells. Finally, mushrooms are fraught with antioxidants, the benefits of which can’t be overstated.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. Mushrooms are a great source of nutrients important to your biological health.
Full of Antioxidants
One of the best benefits of eating mushrooms is that they’re loaded with useful antioxidants. Antioxidants are responsible for fighting harmful free radicals that could lead to chronic illnesses such as diabetes, some cancer types, and cardiovascular disease among other illnesses. Significantly, mushrooms are loaded with an antioxidant called selenium that’s known for generating DNA, protecting against cell damage, and warding off infections. Selenium is also vital to the reproduction of the metabolism and thyroid hormones. Finally, mushrooms are full of antioxidants such as ergothioneine and glutathione, both of which are associated with slowing the aging process and reducing instances of Alzheimer’s disease, some cancers, and cardiovascular disease.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. Undoubtedly, the antioxidants found in mushrooms have powerful benefits; consider adding mushrooms to your diet.
Improves Brain Health
Some studies have suggested that a mushroom-packed diet may prevent the onset of mild cognitive impairments which are typically a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease. One interesting 6-year study indicates that subjects aged 60 and older who regularly consumed mushrooms had a 50% lower risk of mild cognitive impairments when compared to subjects not consuming mushrooms. Furthermore, the niacin and copper found in mushrooms not only support a healthy nervous system but also produce hormones necessary to optimal brain function. As previously noted, mushrooms are rife with powerful antioxidants that can reduce the inflammation in the brain that causes neurodegeneration. Lastly, mushrooms are also a good source of vitamin D which is linked to brain health.
General Consensus: 4/5 and here is why. Although mushrooms contain many nutrients essential to brain health, there are only a few studies specifically concluding that mushrooms improve brain functionality; more research is needed.
Supports Heart Health
Studies of particular varieties of mushrooms have shown promising results concerning cardiovascular health. One lab study of button mushrooms has suggested that routine consumption of these mushrooms may limit your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. For starters, button mushrooms contain almost no fat and are cholesterol-free; they’re also low in sodium and high in potassium, both of which are factors that contribute to heart health. Moreover, button mushrooms contain B vitamins that are integral to red blood formation and overall heart health. Finally, one overarching cause of heart dysfunction and disease is plaque build-up which hardens the arteries leading in and out of the heart. Another study about heart health and mushrooms indicates that this food may reduce inflammation on arterial walls as well as prevents plaque build-up.
General Consensus: 3/5 and here is why. While the antioxidants in mushrooms are promotive of heart health, there are only a handful of studies concerning mushrooms and the prevention/reduction of plaque within the arteries; further research on this topic is called for.
Good for Bone Health
Mushrooms are loaded with vitamin D which is essential to bone health. A Boston University study concluded that eating a serving of mushrooms fuels your body with as much or more vitamin D than some vitamin D supplements. Undoubtedly, maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D uphold bone density while also reducing your risk of osteoporosis, bone fractures, and osteoarthritis. Another way mushrooms may contribute to bone health is their low acidity; acid in foods can deplete important minerals such as calcium from your bones, thereby weakening bones. The copper content in mushrooms produces the collagen necessary to maintaining healthy bones and the zinc content stimulates new bone growth. Finally, selenium deficiency is connected to osteoporosis; mushrooms are packed with selenium which prevents this problem too.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. Mushrooms contain many of the significant nutrients associated with optimal bone health.
Unlikely Benefits: Further Research Needed
Reduces Risk of Depression
General Consensus: 2.5/5 and here is why. A few studies have shown a possible correlation between regularly consuming mushrooms and reduced instances of depression; more research on this topic is needed though.