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5 Impressive Benefits of Mushrooms

Oftentimes we think of white foods – like white bread, white rice or white flour – as lacking in nutrient density, but mushrooms are a glowing exception to this presumption. Whether you add these hearty fungi to your morning omelette or enjoy them in your pasta, just make sure you’re getting your dose! Here are 5 reasons we love mushrooms.

They reduce your risk for cancer

Mushrooms have been found to have impressive anti-cancer properties, including the antioxidant and amino acid known as ergothioneine. It’s known to slow and prevent oxidative and cellular damage, thereby reducing the risk for the development of cancer. Research shows that just an eighth of a cup of mushrooms a day could slash your risk for cancer by a whopping 45%. Not a bad reason to add a few mushrooms to your morning toast! Take a look at some of the mushrooms rich in ergothioneine:

  • Oyster mushrooms
  • Maitake mushrooms
  • King oyster mushrooms
  • Shiitake mushrooms

But the research shows that any kind of mushroom will lower your risk for cancer.

They balance your cholesterol levels

Mushrooms are also a heart-healthy food, and with their meaty texture, they can make for a great meat alternative in your favourite meals if you’re looking to lower your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels. Shiitake mushrooms have been found to lower LDL cholesterol as a result of their inhibiting compounds which block the absorption of this cholesterol, thereby reducing our risk for heart disease and high blood pressure.

They boost brain health

Research has found that people who eat over 2 cups of mushrooms a day have a 50% lower risk for developing mild cognitive impairment. Mild cognitive impairment is characterised by memory difficulties, along with language issues – and it’s often followed by Alzheimer’s disease. The mushrooms involved in the study include the following:

  • Golden mushrooms
  • Oyster mushrooms
  • Shiitake mushrooms
  • White button mushrooms

They give you a hit of the sunshine vitamin

Yep, mushrooms can pack a good dose of vitamin D! But not all mushrooms are made alike – it’s important to pick the right type to ensure you’re getting a good amount. When exposed to sunlight, mushrooms can become rich in vitamin D, with portobello, cremini, white button and maitake mushrooms high on the list. But if you can’t find them in-store, don’t worry – you can expose the mushrooms to vitamin D yourself! Simply leave them out in the sun for around 15 minutes, and enjoy the bone-building benefits of this nutrient.

They promote gut health

Mushrooms promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut to help get the balance back in our favour. If you’ve been struggling with digestive issues, it’s worth adding some mushrooms to your diet – this is because of their polysaccharide content. These carbohydrates are known to help the good bacteria grow, and the best part is they are known to survive the treacherous trip to our stomach and colon. While many nutrients – including some probiotics found in fermented foods – may be broken down by stomach acid, polysaccharides make it to the colon in one piece, where they can then promote the growth of good bacteria and help our gut microbiome strike a balance. 

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