Why mushrooms exactly?
First of all, when it comes to healthy nutrition, mushrooms are a top-class item! Low in calories and rich in vitamins and minerals, they are easily prepared and can be either a side dish or a basis for the main one. Their taste and high nutritional content are what makes them delicious.
Did you know you could fight some diseases and even increase your longevity only by adding fungi or two to your everyday diet?
Listen to the words of Paul Stamets, a well-known mycologist (that’s right, a mushroom pro), who believes that mushrooms can save the world. According to his belief, fungi turn the rot of nature into nutrients for animals, humans, trees, and plants. This spectacular biosynthesis is the process responsible for the benefit of our entire population, as fungi provide us best antibiotics and have many other medical purposes such as relief from high cholesterol, breast and prostate cancer and diabetes, but also weight loss, and but we’ll discuss that with more detail further in the text.
P.S. Did you know that out of 20 best selling drugs from 21 century, 10 utilize fungi?
Stamets presents the unseen of mushrooms, called mycelium. These neural networks alike extend for miles into the Earth’s soil and absorb nutrients while decomposing organic materials. In his recent research, Stamets claims that the fungi community has a way of communicating with humans and that is through our digestive systems. Mushrooms boost the beneficial bacteria, Acidophilus and Bifidobacterium for instance, which improve digestion and our health in general. Moreover, certain mushrooms are rich with antioxidants, such as ergothioneine and glutathione and vitamin D, essential to have a strong immune system. Sounds good – healthy lifestyle without too much trouble, doesn’t it?
Which mushrooms are good for me and why?
There are so many different mushrooms in the world, from the most common to exotic ones hidden in tiny corners all over the world, and since they play a major role when it comes to health, check out which ones are both delicious and beneficial:
- If you’re a fan of a wok food, you’ve probably already heard of these delicious mushrooms of a meaty, chewy taste that goes well with almost all sorts of food. In their homeland, Japan shiitake is known for having numerous health benefits as well, especially for their anticarcinogenic and antimicrobial features, as well as immunity improvement. The mushrooms contain biotin, a vitamin beneficial for hair loss prevention, brittle nails, nerve damage, but more importantly an essential component of enzymes in the body that break down certain substances like fats, carbohydrates, and others and lentiavidins, unique egg-white proteins that bind together with biotin.
- Apart from being popular performance booster, cordyceps mushrooms do other wonders for us as well. It has a unique chemical composition that affects our body as a source of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Cordyceps is widely used in athlete circles at is improves oxygen uptake by enabling your cells to absorb more oxygen. The fruiting parts of this mushroom contain polysaccharides, specifically a type called beta-glucans, which have been studied to support immune health and wellness in general, as well as normal, healthy cell growth.
- One of the most unusual species which grows in grass or dirt in general (but they are still edible, we promise!). They taste just as unique as they look, like a honeycomb on a stick, and apart from their ‘meaty’ flavor, they have a kind of nutty taste as well. You will love them if you like shiitake mushrooms, trust us. They are almost impossible to buy in a store, but you can grow them on your own. Morel mushrooms have high levels of vitamin D (ergocalciferol) which regulate the absorption of calcium and phosphorus and support normal immune system function. It is also essential for normal growth and development of bones and teeth, as well as improved resistance against certain diseases.
- These are one of the biggest edible mushrooms with a striking appearance and very thick shape, which gives them a spongy and chewy texture. Despite the potentially high price, they are easy to find and are worth the money, as they contain anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory effects. Oyster mushrooms are rich in many of the nutrients believed to enhance brain function, such as Niacin which has been proved to protect against Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline in older adults.
- Just as the aforementioned morel, the lion’s mane mushrooms have a strange appearance too. Actually they don’t look like a mushroom at all but it doesn’t matter at all. Given the fact that, apart from playing a large part in Chinese cuisine, these mushrooms help stimulate the production of nerve growth factor which support neurons responsible for information processing and transmission.
- Growing on birch trees of the northern hemisphere, Chaga mushrooms differ from other growths not only by its orange tissue but mostly for their promising effects. Chaga has the highest level of antioxidant potency of any other superfood and that’s not all. It also helps with immunity, cholesterol, DNA damage protection, diabetes, and heart problems. How you may ask? Well, Chaga has one of the highest ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbent Capacity) levels of any food which helps the body to protect from free radicals which cause all those diseases.
- Described by some as ‘woody with a bitter taste’, reishi is used to cure everything, from chronic fatigue, viral infections and lung conditions to heart diseases, insomnia and much more. As they work as an immune modulator, reishi mushrooms can help restore hormonal balance, bring the body back to homeostasis and regulate the activity of the immune system.
- One of the most popular sorts, especially when it comes to culinary purposes. They have a mild nutty flavor with a strong aroma and can be purchased either fresh at markets or in dried form. The porcini mushroom is low in calories but very rich in protein and fiber, thus making it a valuable tool for any weight loss diet. Fiber promotes fullness and keeps your appetite under control, while protein, on the other hand, can help increase weight loss in only a few days, because it reduces levels of certain hormones that stimulate hunger such as ghrelin, boosts metabolism and decreases your daily caloric intake.
- This specie has many false look-alikes, so make sure to consult with an expert before going on a treasure hunt. It is definitely worth the trouble, as chanterelle mushrooms contain high amounts of D2 vitamin which helps the body absorb calcium, protein, potassium, vitamin A, and eight essential amino acids. Chanterelle is also rich in B vitamins, especially vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B5, all of which play a fundamental role in converting food into energy and keeping the nervous system healthy, and the presence of beta-glucans and selenium boost the immune system, so what’s not like about these mushrooms?
What are the side effects of eating mushrooms regularly?
How will I recognize poisonous mushrooms?
First things first, DO NOT go foraging for mushrooms based on what you have read here on somewhere else on the Internet! It’s best to advise with the expert than to be sorry because we know that all mushrooms are edible – but some only once.
Here are some general rules to follow:
- Watch out for toxic look-alikes of Amanita specie: poisonous mushrooms that resemble the edible ones. Two most common mistakes are edible and false morels and chanterelle mistaken for jack-o’-lantern mushrooms.
- Physical characteristics: dangerous mushrooms have something like ‘rows of raised dots’ instead of off-colored ‘patches’ on the cap, which is usually shaped like a wide upside-down letter U and which, when placed face down on a dark-colored paper, will leave a white spore print, they have a bulbous cup around the base for which is almost always necessary to dig out the mushroom to notice and the ring ‘annulus’ around the stem and thin and white gills
- When? Amanitas usually appear in the second half of the season, in summer and fall. They can be found in woods on the ground.
- The easiest way to identify mushrooms is to join one of many mushroom identification groups on Facebook, which are often specific to the location you live in. Take a picture, post it in the group, and wait for a community of nice, easy-going mushroom lovers to help you out.
- Remember: DO NOT eat anything you haven’t identified positively at least three times!