What are Mushrooms Good For? 6 Ways They Help You
"What are mushrooms good for?”
This is a question I receive literally every day, as mushrooms’ #1 PR Agency. You see, I love mushrooms. I love them so much that I’ve devoted my life to educating people about the amazing benefits of mushrooms through Four Sigmatic.
I’ve been a mushroom fanatic for so long that sometimes I forget the rest of the world isn’t necessarily quite as taken with edible mushrooms as I am — but that’s been changing. For centuries, mushrooms have been used in kitchens around the world to add flavor and depth to a wide range of dishes.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg: Mushrooms offer a wide range of nutritional, physical, emotional, and environmental benefits that have the potential to transform the well-being of both people and the planet on which we rely. If that’s news to you, read on to learn about just six of the totally awesome health benefits you receive from eating mushrooms.
1. Mushrooms Can Support Immune Function
There are some especially promising human studies on shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) and your immune system[*].
2. Mushroom Can Help Fight Nutritional Deficiencies
Even in the U.S., nutritional deficiencies are surprisingly common. Mushrooms provide an easy way to fill a variety of nutritional gaps in your diet, including deficiencies in B vitamins, iron, potassium, selenium, and vitamin D.
That’s because functional mushrooms are loaded essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Take just a few examples of their nutritional value:
- B vitamins: Mushrooms are a good source of B vitamins biotin (B7), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), and riboflavin (B2)[*]. These B vitamins help to support energy production and metabolism[*][*][*][*]. Even white button mushrooms have 67 percent RDI of niacin[*]! Oyster mushrooms are also a source of B6[*].
- Vitamin D: Hello sunshine! One cup of raw maitake mushrooms has 786 IU vitamin D[*].
- Potassium: Mushrooms are filled with potassium, which supports the cardiovascular and digestive systems[*]. Your grocery store portobella mushrooms have 313 milligrams of potassium[*].
3. Functional Mushrooms are Adaptogens
Rare is the American who doesn’t suffer from bouts of occasional or constant stress or anxiety. In fact, a recent survey by the American Psychological Association suggests stress is on the rise across America[*].
Adaptogens are slowly but surely gaining mainstream recognition, and mushrooms are serving as one of the gateway “drugs” (or, rather, whole food sources) for these wonderful substances.
Just what is an adaptogen, you might ask? Adaptogens are naturally occurring, non-toxic substances that can help stabilize and optimize a wide range of physiological functions depending on what your body needs at any given time. (That sounds way too good to be true, but there’s a ton of science to back it up.)
Among other benefits, adaptogens are especially well known for minimizing fatigue, supporting natural energy levels, sustaining focus, protecting the body from stress, and promoting overall wellness. The main functional mushrooms known as adaptogens are reishi and cordyceps.
4. Mushrooms Make Coffee Way Better for You
Coffee is already a great substance in its own right. Moderate coffee consumption may help your heart disease risk, and of course, provides energy[*].
Still, coffee isn’t without its downsides. Heartburn and a jittery feeling is very common, and it may cause anxiety[*]. When you add mushrooms to coffee, you’re able to experience coffee like never before — a coffee with even more benefits.
5. Mushrooms Help as You Get Older
In spite of what cosmetics companies would have you believe, there is no way to prevent getting older. But there are things you can do to help age more gracefully, such as helping your brain out and getting your skin to glow. Mushrooms are some of the best foods to do both.
6. Mushrooms Help Support the Environment
Wild mushrooms don’t just grow in the environment — they also give back to it. Fungi play a key role in the health of the ecosystems on which all life on earth depends. Among other environmental benefits, fungi have been shown to:
- Help create healthy soil through the process of decomposition. Fungi are some of the world’s most powerful decomposers, and decomposition is an essential process for returning nutrients to the soil in all types of ecosystems and microclimates, from forests to farms.
- Assist with bioremediation, or the process of breaking down toxic compounds that have infiltrated water or soil. Fungi have been shown to break down and help eliminate a variety of hazardous chemicals[*].
- Produce a natural insecticide that allows for nontoxic control of harmful pests without the use of environmentally damaging pesticides[*]
Each of these benefits conferred by edible mushrooms is amazing in its own right. But what’s really incredible is that these perks are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the ways mushrooms can help boost the well-being of our bodies, minds, and planet.
To learn even more about the amazing benefits of mushrooms and how to cook mushrooms better, check out my book “Healing Mushrooms: A Practical and Culinary Guide to Using Mushrooms for Whole Body Health.” Or dive into our FREE e-learning course, the Mushroom Academy.