I never liked mushrooms. Well, in fact, I never liked any healthy foods like soya chunks (nutrine nuggets), tofu, mushrooms, carrots etc. My neighbour once gave me a packet of mushrooms which went to the dustbin uncooked, primarily because I did not know how to clean or cook them and even if I did, I wouldn’t eat them. Nowadays, I am more tolerant to healthy foods.

Mushrooms offer several health benefits. Mushrooms have high level of Polysaccharides in them which serve to stimulate the immune system. In addition to protein, they also have fiber, B vitamins, and vitamin C, as well as calcium and other minerals. Mushrooms are also a good source of riboflavin and niacin. Containing no fat, calories or cholesterol, they can be a safe part of your regular diet.

Shiitake, Reishi and Maitake mushrooms are called medicinal mushrooms because of their health properties. Mushrooms of this variety can hep with heart problems, serve to detoxify, lower the risk of cancer, thwart the action of viruses, bacteria, and fungi, reduce inflammation and also balance blood sugar levels. Shiitake and Reishi mushrooms are said to be potential cancer-fighters. Experiments on cancer treatment with mushrooms conducted in different countries like US, Japan and China were awarded with positive results. Mushrooms are a great source of antioxidants like poly phenols and ergothioneine. Antioxidants work against Free radicals in the body. White button mushrooms like the Crimini mushroom and the portabella mushroom are rich in antioxidants.

Shiitakes contain high levels of protein, potassium, niacin and B vitamins, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus which make them nutritional bombs. They also have natural antiviral and immunity enhancing properties. They can fight viruses, help with liver ailments, bring down cholesterol levels and stabilise blood pressure. Lentinan is an immunostimulantA derived from shiitakes. Scientists say that with lentinan it can effectively treat diseases like fibro-cystic breast disease, cancer, diabetes, AIDS, and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Reishi extracts can deter the growth of cancerous tumors and also produce an antihistamine action to help control allergies. They can also improve the respiratory health especially of people with asthma. In Japan and China, Reishi was used for the betterment of liver disorders, hypertension, and arthritis. They also believe Reishi to be a “mood-elevating substance” elevating one from a material world to a spiritual world.

If Egyptian Pharaohs believed that mushrooms had magical powers, you can’t laugh at them. The health benefits of mushrooms are undeniable. But, Caution! All mushrooms are not edible as some are poisonous. The species of amanitas, the false morels and the little brown mushrooms (LBMS) are some of the deadly ones.

Additional Reading:

Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi mushroom) for cancer treatment

5 Health Benefits of Mushroom

Cordyceps – The Health Benefits Of Mushroom

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