Not everyone is thrilled with the idea of eating a fungus. However, the nutritional value of mushrooms is second to none, and researchers are learning more each day about their many benefits.
There are over 140,000 species of mushroom-forming fungi, yet scientists are only familiar with a mere ten percent of them. But what studies have shown in regards to these more well-known varieties is enough to encourage everyone to fill their plate with these healthy fungi.
B Vitamins and Minerals
Mushrooms are an excellent source of B vitamins, which are essential for a variety of metabolic functions in the body and are especially key in nervous system function. They also contain a number of important minerals including selenium, copper and potassium. Research has shown that including white vegetables such as mushrooms in the diet decreases the risk for nutrient deficiencies, most notably those of fiber, potassium and magnesium.
When absorbing important bone-building vitamin D from the sun isn’t an option in colder climates, synthetic forms are often prescribed to ensure sufficient quantities are met. Rather than relying on a lab-formulated vitamin that may lack purity or include fillers or contaminants, you may want to add an extra helping of mushrooms to your plate. Research has shown that mushrooms are capable of providing vitamins D2, D3 and D4. A dried button mushroom extract was also found to be as beneficial as taking a vitamin D supplement for increasing levels in the body.
Mushrooms are also an excellent addition to the diet for those looking to shed a few pounds. A recent study followed the weight loss and overall health of 73 obese individuals. Those who replaced red meat with mushrooms reported more weight loss, lower body fat percentages, lower blood pressure and improved health parameters than those who didn’t make the meat substitution. Furthermore, a full year after the trial, the mushroom eaters maintained an average weight loss of seven pounds.
Consuming mushrooms will also help decrease sodium in the diet, as they provide the sensory taste of umami, a rich, brothy and savory flavor. A collaborated report published by the Harvard School of Public Health alongside the Culinary Institute of America suggests that cooking with umami-rich flavors such as those found in mushrooms reduces the need for added salt, due the savory flavors they naturally add to dishes.
An important note to remember when purchasing mushrooms is to always buy organic. Mushrooms readily absorb and concentrate the nutrients they are growing in, meaning they are only as healthy as they soil they grow in. Seeking out wild mushrooms is only encouraged if you are going with an experienced forager, as there are a few varieties that can be toxic.
-The Alternative Daily