The Good News Is, the Healthiest Mushrooms Are Also Some of the Tastiest and Most Popular
It’s fair to say I read quite a bit about the attributes of healthy foods.
Since this is the case, I think it’s interesting to note I rarely see anything written about mushrooms.
And this is why I think that’s so bizarre:
If you walk down the produce aisle, there’s a whole section for mushrooms. They actually take up more space on the produce aisle than many more popular fruits and veggies (keep in mind mushrooms are neither).
There should be way more written about mushrooms – they’re absolutely incredible in terms of benefitting your health.
Take a look as I unpack some of the health benefits associated with mushrooms and then rattle off a list of some of the healthier options that’ll make you want to fry them up tonight.
Five Of The Healthiest Mushrooms and Their Health Benefits
So what’s so great about mushrooms??
Well, I can’t say it’s the texture…sorry…
But, what they lack in eatability, they make up for in their ability to positively affect your health.
- They help boost your immune system. Mushrooms are loaded with nutrients proven to bolster the function of your immune system. Perhaps the most important are alpha and beta glucan molecules, which are long-chain polysaccharides. These have the ability to positively modulate immune function. Several studies have shown adding mushrooms, like white button and shiitake, to your diet helps with overall immune function.
- They can help you maintain a healthy weight. A study conducted just a few year ago showed if you replace red meat (for some of you, that’d be tough) with white button mushrooms, it can help you lose weight. In the study, researchers observed obese patients for 12 months and discovered those who replaced their red meat consumption with one cup of white button mushrooms lost an average of 3.6% of their original weight.
- They can improve your nutritional profile. Another research study discovered that people who eat mushrooms have a correspondingly better diet and better nutritional profile than those who don’t.
- They can help regulate blood sugar. Mushrooms have a positive effect on blood sugar levels; they help these levels stay in a normal range, which has positive effects on overall health.
That’s a sample of what mushrooms can do for you; now it’s time to dig in and see which mushrooms are best for what purposes.
#1 – Shiitake mushrooms: One of the more popular mushrooms used for general culinary purposes, shiitakes are also wonderful for your health.
Dr. Mercola writes this about the health benefits of shiitakes: “Shiitake mushrooms also demonstrate antiviral (including HIV, hepatitis, and the “common cold”), antibacterial, and antifungal effects; blood sugar stabilization; reduced platelet aggregation; and reduced atherosclerosis. Shiitake also contains eritadenine, which has strong cholesterol-lowering properties.”
Another reason to eat shiitakes is they’re high in lectin; this nutrient is known to have anti-cancer properties and can help stop the spread of cancer. In fact, it’s so powerfulm Japanese researchers have sought to replicate it in the lab to use it to fight off tumors. Shiitakes are also rich in essential vitamin D, which has incredible benefits relating to cardiovascular, bone and immune health.
#2 – White button mushrooms: Another staple in the kitchen, white button mushrooms are probably the most popular mushroom in America. Plus, they’re also one of the best to use for cooking because they’ve got a neutral taste and their texture is more agreeable to diners.
In terms of what they can do for your health, white button mushrooms are rich in CLA, which is known to have anti-cancer effects, and have the ability to increase metabolic rate, lower cholesterol and triglycerides, reduce food-induced allergic reactions, enhance muscle growth, and more.
They’re also rich in antioxidants, including L-Ergothioneine, which has been shown to fight cancer. In fact, white button mushrooms are probably nature’s richest source of this particular antioxidant, beating out wheat germ and chicken liver.
White button mushrooms are also loaded with selenium, which is an essential trace mineral helpful in increasing brain function, helping the immune system work properly, and being absolutely vital for sexual function for both men and women.
#3 – Portabello mushrooms: These are one of the largest edible mushrooms around – so big, you even see them used as buns for burgers. Not only is it large in size, but it’s also got a great nutritional profile, which has led to the portabello’s reputation as a superfood.
Portabellos are loaded with both macro and micronutrients. They’re high in minerals like copper (which is necessary for healthy circulation), potassium (which is important for heart health), and the phytonutrient chlorophyll (which has powerful antioxidant properties).
They’ve also got tons of B-complex vitamins (niacin, riboflavin and pantothenic acid), as well as a healthy amount of protein, which is helpful in the formation of muscle tissue and aids in effective weight management.
Not to mention, they taste pretty good and have a “meaty” texture even carnivores will like.
#4 – Crimini mushrooms: The crimini is a small, brown mushroom with a host of health benefits associated with it.
These mushrooms are known to have anti-inflammatory properties, which are great at helping reduce the chances of developing a chronic disease like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and others. Criminis have even been shown to block the production of pro-inflammatory molecules that contribute to chronic inflammation.
Criminis have also been implicated in helping boost immunity, are helpful at reducing chronic inflammation, are filled with antioxidants and help with heart health, too.
#5 – Porcini mushrooms: Known for their rich, earthy flavor, porcini mushrooms are one of nature’s most powerful foods.
The porcini mushroom is rich in B-complex vitamins. These include:
- Vitamin B1 – Vitamin B1 (aka thiamine) is helpful with nerve and heart health.
- Vitamin B6 – Vitamin B6 helps to keep your immune system in good working order. It aids in the breakdown of fats, carbohydrates and amino acids while helping to maintain the health of lymph nodes. Additionally, vitamin B6 helps to regulate blood glucose levels.
- Vitamin B9 – [Also known as folate;] is an important vitamin for liver function.
- Vitamin B12 – Vitamin B12…helps to preserve neurological function and DNA synthesis. It also plays a key role in the health of red blood cells. The nervous system relies on vitamin B12 for proper function as well.
It’s tough to find fresh porcinis in America, but you can usually find them dried, which will still help you secure the nutrients you need.
Tips On Eating Mushrooms
Some of you might not like mushrooms.
My suggestion is to cut them up small, cook them at a recommended temp. and length of time (it varies by type), and then mix them into foods with a similar texture profile.
That way, you can eat them without getting that “slimy and slippery” experience.
Beyond that, I recommend watching some YouTube videos explaining the best methods for preparation and then going from there.
You can also cook them to make them taste like bacon.
Check out this cool video: