I can still remember my first encounter with mushrooms. We were on holiday and an uncle of mine persuaded me to try them out. I remember being so impressed that I went back to fill my plate with them. Years later, my aunt was growing mushrooms on her outside farm, and we all loved it. Whenever we went to her house our meals had to have mushrooms. Mushroom sauce, fried mushrooms, or even mushroom-loaded fries. It was the best of times.
On top of being very tasty, edible mushrooms have a lot of nutritional benefits. They have been a delight for many years that trace back to ancient Egypt. Legend has it that pharaohs liked their earthy flavour so much, they declared the fungi royalty food and forbid commoners from touching them. Those greedy pharaohs kept the entire supply for themselves.
- Mushrooms boost a person’s immunity
If you suffer from cases of low immunity then mushrooms might just be the answer to your problems. Studies have found that eating mushrooms will improve a person’s immunity system. A clinical study was conducted in Florida which found that eating shiitake mushrooms daily improves immunity in a way that is not found in any currently available pharmaceutical drugs. Mushrooms’ immune-boosting abilities are highly attributable to the high level of polysaccharides (specifically Beta-glucans, one type of polysaccharide found in abundance in fungi) contained within their cell walls. This means that mushrooms have a link with a better immune system.
- Improving digestion
Mushrooms are gut-friendly food. They have pre-biotic compounds, meaning that they nourish the good bacteria in your gut. The important sources of prebiotics in mushrooms are non-digestible mushroom polysaccharides which can inhibit the growth of pathogens by enhancing the growth of probiotic bacteria in the gut.
- They help to lower cholesterol
Mushrooms are generally cholesterol-free. To add to this, they contain chitin and beta-glucan which are sources of fibre that lower cholesterol levels. According to Andrew Weil, Shiitake mushrooms contain a compound that helps the liver process cholesterol and removes it from the bloodstream. High cholesterol is dangerous because it clogs blood vessels and this may lead to issues such as heart attack or high blood pressure. In this way, mushrooms promote heart health. What Should You Do to Keep Your Heart Healthy?
- They have cancer-fighting properties
Cancer is one of the number one killer diseases in our country today, and now studies have linked mushrooms to cancer-fighting properties. A study that is published in the journal Experimental Biology and Medicine tested five types of mushrooms (maitake, crimini, portabella, oyster and white button) and found that they “significantly suppressed” breast cancer cell growth and reproduction, suggesting “both common and speciality mushrooms may be chemo-protective against breast cancer.”
Another study by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center adds that lentinan may help extend the survival of patients with some cancers when used with chemotherapy. On top of all this, mushrooms have been said to have anti-tumour properties.
- Managing diabetes
Diabetes is associated with an imbalance in blood sugar, and mushrooms are one of the recommended foods to manage this condition. Dietary fibre, found in mushrooms can help to manage Type II Diabetes. A study that was conducted in 2018 concluded that people who eat a lot of fibre may have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. For those who already have it, fibre may help reduce blood glucose levels. Mushrooms are high in fibre. A cup of sliced raw mushrooms provides almost 1g of fibre. How to live with diabetes
6. They have anti-ageing properties
Mushrooms have been said to have anti-ageing properties. A study carried out by Pennsylvania State University researchers found mushrooms have the highest dietary sources of two antioxidants (ergothioneine and glutathione). These antioxidants replenish the body and could help counteract the effects of oxidative stress from free radicals, which can lead to health problems later on in life.
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