Mushrooms for improved health!
According to a USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service report, about 846 million pounds of mushrooms were sold in the U.S. in 2019, and although this figure was down a bit from the previous year, certain specialty mushrooms, like the Shitake, increased in sales (1).
These fungi bring a savory flavor to meals while providing us with essential nutrients like B vitamins, vitamins C, D, and E, and minerals like calcium, magnesium, and selenium, all while being low in calories and fat (2).
In addition to providing nutrients that many Americans lack in their diets, mushrooms contain compounds that help us to fight off chronic diseases and improve our health.
So, if you’re not yet consuming these macrofungi, read on and find out just why you may want to begin adding these little gems to your meal plan!
Health Benefits of this Dish
Mushrooms are the fruiting body of fungi that grow above or below the ground, and in addition to the previously mentioned nutrients, mushrooms provide bioactive compounds like B-glucans and polysaccharides when we consume them (2).
Since mushroom B-glucans are not digested in the GI tract, they can speed up bowel transit time and help protect against IBS, diverticular diseases, and colon cancer (3).
Edible mushrooms contain ergothioneine (EGT), a modified amino acid that can protect cells against UV and gamma radiation stressors, chelate metals, and provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects in the body (4).
One study of pre-diabetic adults showed that the consumption of one serving of white button mushrooms, which contain about 3.2 mg of EGT, for 16 weeks was able to decrease oxidative stress and inflammation, and reduce harmful by-products like advanced glycation end products (AGEs) while at the same time increase adiponectin, an anti-inflammatory hormone (5).
Other studies show that consuming EGT can be protective against liver fibrosis and oxidative stress, protecting against diseases like non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) (4).
A 2021 study published in the Advances in Nutrition journal, showed that daily consuming about 2 medium-sized mushrooms (18 grams), like shitake, oyster, and maitake, can lower the risk for cancer by about 45% (6).
Polysaccharides found in mushrooms can act as prebiotics and enhance the growth of beneficial bacteria like lactobacilli in the GI tract (7).
There have been many bioactive compounds found in mushrooms that exert antioxidant, antidiabetic, antitumor, antiviral, anticancer, and antimicrobial effects, and those listed above are just a few (8).
So, if you don’t currently consume mushrooms in your diet, perhaps give it a try!
Creamy Mushrooms and Vegetables Recipe:
4 tbsp. butter or ghee
2 ½ cups mushrooms, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ small onion, diced
1 cup peas, frozen or fresh
1 large potato, diced
1 small carrot, diced
7 grape tomatoes, sliced
1 large collard green leaf, chopped
sea salt, and black pepper to taste
fresh cilantro for garnish
Heat the butter/ghee over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the onion and garlic, and cook while stirring for about 2 minutes. Add the carrot, potato, tomatoes, and seasonings next, and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and collard greens and cook until the mushrooms begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Next, add the peas and cook for about 2 minutes until warm. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve.
*This dish pairs well with a protein like blackened salmon.