Mushrooms can be a great addition to your diet because they have several health benefits. They are a great source of nutrients such as protein, fiber and minerals that are hard to come by including copper, selenium, phosphorus, and a bit of iron, zinc, manganese, and magnesium. And they are tasty, too.
Mushrooms are also a “white food” exception. White foods are often thought to be nutrient-poor, but mushrooms are a profound exception. One of their biggest benefits is they contain many minerals, as outlined above that are not often found in plant-based foods. This is great news for vegans and vegetarians.
5 Top Reasons to Eat More Mushrooms
1. Selenium, which is abundant in many mushrooms, is an especially important nutrient to your immune system. In fact, an international team of researchers from University of Surrey who published their findings in the American Journal of Nutrition, identified a link between the COVID-19 cure rate and regional selenium status in China. It is preliminary data but good food for thought.
2. Super-high concentration of two antioxidants, ergothioneine and glutathione can be found in significant amounts in mushrooms, according to a recent study be Penn State researchers. These researchers reported that mushrooms are known as the highest dietary source of these two antioxidants.
Glutathione is one of the most important and potent antioxidants. As a result, it plays a key role in detoxification and inflammation which has important ramifications for health including neurogenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, immunity (including auto-immunity), cardiovascular and pulmonary disease along with other age related diseases and the aging process itself.
L-ergothioneine, a unique sulfur-containing amino acid, is one of the few antioxidants along with glutathione that are concentrated in the mitochondria where energy gets produced in the body. When these antioxidants are present together, they work extra-hard to protect the body from the physiological stress that causes visible signs of aging, such as wrinkles, fine lines, and health challenges.
3. Glutamate ribonucleotides which mushrooms contain can help lower sodium intake while making food taste better. These compounds contribute a savory, umami taste with no added salt which is good for your blood pressure and/or heart disease risk. An entire cup of mushrooms has only 5 mg sodium.
4. Vitamin D. We know that sunlight is the best source of vitamin D. Over the past decade, scientist have found that exposing mushrooms to UV lamps or direct sun increases their vitamin D content. Mushrooms have the same ability to absorb vitamin D from the sun as human skin and are one of the only plant foods that are a good source of vitamin D. UVB-labeled mushrooms are available in the marketplace and by eating just 3 ounces of UVB-exposed mushrooms, you will meet your daily vitamin D requirement.
5. Energy. Mushrooms are a rich source of B vitamins including riboflavin, folate, thiamine, pantothenic acid, and niacin. B vitamins help us to utilize energy from the foods we eat. They also help to produce red blood cells which carry oxygen throughout the body.
How to get more mushrooms in your diet
1. Sauté them with onions and add to scrambled eggs, omelets, and frittatas.
2. Add cooked mushrooms to pasta sauces and casseroles.
3. Try mushroom risotto.
4. Add sautéed mushrooms to sandwiches.
5. Sauté mushrooms, peppers, and onions with a little bit of garlic as a side dish.
6. Grill or broil large cap Portabella mushrooms to create a healthy inexpensive wrap for
your favorite sandwich.
7. Save them for later by sautéing up a batch of mushrooms with onions and garlic and keep them in the freezer for up to a month.
8. Blend finely chopped, umami-rich mushrooms with your favorite meat recipes such as tacos, burgers, chilis, casseroles, etc. Since the chopped mushrooms match the texture and color of meat, your family won’t even notice the change.
These little nutritional powerhouses are simple to add to your diet. The benefit is a significant increase in nutrient density.