MUSHROOM GUIDE: ALL ABOUT FUNGI (NOT THE MAGICAL KIND, BUT WE LOVE THOSE TOO) AND HOW THEY BENEFIT YOUR HEALTH
MEDICINAL POWER OF MUSHROOMS
The fungi known as medicinal mushrooms have health-promoting properties. Hippocrates, the Greek physician, documented the use of medicinal mushrooms as early as 450 BCE. He utilized amadou mushrooms for their anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties. In addition, since the fifth century, Chinese alchemists have used mushrooms as a medical tool.
Despite the fact that fungi have been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years, contemporary science has been catching up fast. More than 600 studies have looked into their potential to date.
The intriguing benefits of using mushrooms medicinally include enhanced cognitive function, heart and liver health, and immune system strengthening. We can primarily attribute the health advantages to the bioactive substances that mushrooms produce.
Here is a closer look at the top bioactives responsible for the healing properties of medicinal mushrooms:
- Antioxidants: Ergothioneine and glutathione, as antioxidants, actively help protect against oxidative stress commonly caused by free radicals.
- Polysaccharides: Beta-glucan, a sugar that provides structural benefits, is able to stimulate the immune system against external threats.
- Proteins: proteins such as lectins bind with the polysaccharides found in mushrooms to amplify immune system function. Most mushroom proteins contain all the essential amino acids.
- Terpenes: group of beneficial compounds known for their antimicrobial activities, potential to fight inflammation, role against oxidative stress, and ability to strengthen the immune system.
Moreover, edible mushrooms provide fiber, vitamins and minerals making them a valuable addition to a healthy diet. The amount and type of bioactives and nutrients present will vary depending on the type of mushroom at hand.
EXPLORING MUSHROOM VARIETIES
There are thought to be 14,000 distinct species of mushrooms in the world. 200 of those species are thought to be medicinal, and the remaining 2,000 are edible, shop here.
Mushrooms can’t cure everything, though. Given the wide variety of species present, it’s critical to comprehend the distinct advantages that each type of medicinal mushroom has to offer.
Here are the top 3 medicinal mushrooms and their benefits:
REISHI MUSHROOM: THE QUEEN OF MEDICINAL MUSHROOMS
- Species name: Ganoderma lucidum
- Commonly known as: reishi, lingzhi, “mushroom of immortality”
Perhaps the most widely used medicinal mushroom is the reishi mushroom. It was formerly a part of Chinese medicine and has since been included in the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia. There are reportedly 100 reishi-based products available now, including dietary supplements, teas, and powders, Mushroom Guide online.
High in nutrients are reishi mushrooms. They supply minerals such as sulfur, silica, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. Owing to their elevated levels of bioactive compounds such as terpenes and polysaccharides, they provide an array of health advantages, shop here.
The most well known benefits of reishi mushrooms include:
- Anti-tumor: Alongside conventional cancer treatments, some turn to reishi mushrooms to improve health outcomes. In human and animal studies, reishi mushrooms have exerted an inhibitory effect on cancer cells.
- Antimicrobial: Several in vitro and in vivo animal studies have cited the role of bioactives in reishi mushrooms against viral and bacterial infections. Smaller human studies have revealed reishi mushroom to improve treatment outcomes of common bacterial and viral infections. Although, researchers need to confirm the bioavailability of the antimicrobial components of reishi mushrooms.
- Sleep-inducing: An animal study showed that shoreishi mushroom extract can increase sleep time.
- Stress-reducing: Animal studies on triterpene extracts show that they can function as adaptogens. In true adaptogenic fashion, they have the potential to improve the body’s response to stress and lower cortisol levels. Reishi mushrooms have high amounts of triterpenes.
- Immune-boosting: A 2020 meta-analysis shows that the polysaccharides and triterpenes in reishi mushrooms may improve immune system function. It accomplishes this by activating and enhancing the defense cells that make up the immune system such as NK cells, T lymphocytes, and macrophages.
- Liver-protective: In animal studies, beta-glucan, found in reishi mushrooms, can offer protection against liver injury caused by popular toxin and carcinogen carbon tetrachloride.
SHIITAKE MUSHROOM: A CULINARY DELIGHT WITH HEALTH BENEFITS
The shiitake mushroom is both a medicinal mushroom and a savory culinary ingredient. Its meaty, umami-like flavor makes it a popular addition to noodles, sauteed or stir fry meals, and soups, Mushroom Guide colorado.
Japanese culture has historically used shiitake mushrooms as a medicinal food. Most people turn to shiitake mushrooms to help support:
- Bone health: Shiitake mushrooms that have been exposed to UV radiation are able to capture notable amounts of vitamin D, a critical nutrient for healthy bones. In fact, one study found that the bioavailability of vitamin D2 in mushrooms was just as effective at raising and maintaining levels of vitamin D in the blood as the highly absorbable vitamin D3.
- Heart health: Bioactives, like beta-glucans and sterols are abundant in shiitake mushrooms. These bioactives can help improve biomarkers indicative of good heart health such as cholesterol and blood pressure.
- Immune-boosting: Letninan, a polysaccharide native to shiitake mushrooms, helps enhance the function of a group of cells within the immune system called Th1 and Th2 that help ward off unwanted invaders to the body.
LION’S MANE MUSHROOM: NOURISHING THE BRAIN
- Species name: Hericium erinaceus
- Commonly known as: lion’s mane, yamabushitake, and hericenones
Lion’s mane has a chewy texture and a slightly sweet flavor, despite its intimidating name. As a result, it is frequently used in seafood recipes with other meats with comparable textures, such as crab and lobster, shop here.
Lion’s mane has a reputation as a medicinal mushroom that improves cognition. Indeed, erinacines and hericenones—bioactives with the ability to easily cross the blood-brain barrier—are found in lion’s mane. They can therefore provide neurotropic and neuroprotective effects. For example:
- Healthy brain aging: In a human trial, participants who took 250 mg of dry lion’s mane powder saw increased scores on the Hasegawa Dementia Scale (HDS-R) at the 4 and 16 week marks compared to the placebo group. Researchers believe that this benefit may be related to the erinacines that lion’s mane provides.
- Memory boost: A study in humans showed that lion’s mane was able to help prevent impairment of short-term visual memory.
As mentioned earlier, there are many types of edible mushrooms available. AC mushroom, chaga, cordyceps, maitake, and the oyster mushroom are examples of other popular medicinal mushrooms.
3 NUTRITIOUS MUSHROOM RECIPES
Foods that offer advantages beyond their nutritional content are referred to as functional foods. Not surprisingly, a lot of people view medicinal mushrooms as functional foods, Mushroom Guide can also be best describe here.
Thankfully, adding medicinal mushrooms to a range of foods and drinks is not too difficult. If you’re wondering how to include them in your regular meals, you should try these easy recipes using medicinal mushrooms, have the best Mushroom Guide here.
1. MOREL MUSHROOM & BROCCOLI STIR FRY
Morel mushrooms are known for their antioxidant bioactivities. In terms of cooking, they are a popular choice for their umami-like flavor profile. They are popularly used in savory dishes such as this mushroom and broccoli stir fry.
Prep time: 10 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Makes: 2 servings
What you’ll need:
- 5 oz morel mushrooms, sliced
- ½ pound broccoli florets
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 3 tsp sugar
- 3 tsp avocado oil
- 1 tsp garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp ginger, minced
- 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds (for garnish)
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
How to prepare:
- In a bowl, combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar until fully dissolved and set aside.
- Bring a nonstick skillet to medium heat and add avocado oil.
- Cook ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes for about 20 to 30 seconds.
- Then, incorporate water, broccoli, and mushrooms. Allow broccoli to fully cook (usually 4 to 6 minutes).
- Add the sauce and cook for one more minute.
- Top with toasted sesame seeds and serve. Dish pairs well with a side of steamed white rice.
2. REISHI MUSHROOM MILK TEA
Reishi mushrooms are a versatile culinary ingredient. In addition to savory dishes, they are also an easy addition to everyday beverages including coffees and teas.
Prep time: 5 mins
Total time: 8 minutes
Makes: 1 serving
What you’ll need:
- 1 tsp reishi mushroom powder (store bought or made in a food processor)
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1 cup milk of choice, steamed
- Dash of cinnamon powder
How to prepare:
- Combine mushroom powder and brown sugar with steamed milk.
- Serve and sprinkle with cinnamon powder
- Optional: for an iced milk tea, allow drink to cool and serve over ice
3. SHIITAKE MUSHROOM & VEGETABLE SOUP
Soups are a traditional way to consume mushrooms. This recipe offers a spin on vegetable soup by incorporating shiitake mushrooms for added flavor and health benefits.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Makes: 2 servings
What you’ll need:
- 1 green onion, sliced
- 1.5 oz shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 1.5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- ¼ cup coconut aminos
- ¼ cup carrots, sliced
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp sesame oil
- dash of ground ginger
How to prepare:
- In a large pot, bring all ingredients to a boil, then cook for about 15 minutes.
- Remove from heat and serve.
PRECAUTIONS AND CONSIDERATIONS
As discussed, mushrooms have a long history of use for health maintenance.
In general, popular medicinal mushrooms are safe for consumption in food and supplemental forms. Side effects of taking mushrooms are typically mild and usually include:
- Nasal, mouth, or throat dryness
- Stomach upset
Even though side effects are transient, more research is necessary to determine whether eating mushrooms is safe over the long term.
It’s also critical to remember that additional study is required to determine the ideal dosages for various mushrooms. It can be challenging to determine with certainty at this time whether a mushroom supplement will offer the right amount of potency and form of the mushroom to improve your health.
Finally, not everyone is a good fit for mushrooms. Before introducing mushrooms into their diet, people who are expecting, nursing, have a medical diagnosis, are taking prescription medication, or are otherwise pregnant or lactating should speak with their healthcare provider. Mushrooms are not recommended for culinary or medicinal use by those with allergies, Mushroom Guide is also important to know so as to reduce harm reduction.
To sum up, medicinal mushrooms offer a variety of health advantages. They are teeming with potent bioactives that have anti-inflammatory and healing properties. Moreover, medicinal mushrooms have savory and sweet flavor profiles that are great for cooking.