5 Health Benefits of Adding Mushrooms to Your Diet
Button, oyster, shiitake, enoki, shimeji, portobello and porcini - edible mushrooms come in so many forms and are so versatile that people across the world, whether they are vegetarian or not, have adopted them into their diets. Technically a type of fungi, mushrooms are usually put in the category of vegetables.
According to the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, all types of mushrooms are low in calories and fat but contain modest amounts of dietary fiber. They are also packed with other nutrients like proteins, vitamin C, B vitamins, vitamin D, copper, potassium, phosphorus, selenium, phytochemicals and antioxidants. Mushrooms are said to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits as well, especially thanks to the beta-glucans they contain.
So, like most nutrient-dense foods, mushrooms pack quite the punch of health. The following are some benefits you can gain by including more mushrooms in your diet:
1. Boosts the immune system
Given that they’re packed with nutrients, eating enough mushrooms can improve your immune system. The antioxidants and phytochemicals in mushrooms give it anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal properties, which further aid in keeping seasonal infections and diseases at bay. What’s more, eating mushrooms can also help you reduce the risk of weight gain and obesity.
2. Prevents heart disease
Mushrooms are packed with lean plant proteins and have very low amounts of calories and fats. Mushrooms also contain glutamate ribonucleotides, which not only give them a salty, umami flavour but also make the addition of salt almost unnecessary while cooking. This helps control blood pressure, improve heart health and ultimately reduce the risk of heart disease.
3. Aids cognitive function
Mushrooms contain two key antioxidants - ergothioneine and glutathione - which not only protect the brain and body from premature ageing but also have a protective effect on brain cells. Eating mushrooms can improve cognitive abilities like memory and attention. Studies also suggest that eating mushrooms is associated with lower risks of dementia, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
4. Keeps bones healthy
Mushrooms contain vitamin D, calcium, potassium and phosphorus - all the nutrients which help build bones and keep them healthy too. Studies indicate that consuming mushrooms in your diet regularly can help prevent bone-related diseases like osteoporosis, bone pain and even bone degeneration.
5. Improves digestion
Mushrooms contain polysaccharides, which are nutrients that also act as prebiotics. Prebiotics are compounds that induce the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and fungus. Eating mushrooms can therefore not only improve your digestion but also help keep your gut healthy. This can also further aid you in keeping digestive issues at bay.