If you’re looking for a new food to boost your health and shake up your boring meal routine, mushrooms might be it. With over 100 thousand species of mushroom-forming fungi and huge health benefits, the mushroom is a little-known superstar. We often sprinkle mushrooms on our salads or add them to our casseroles. Next time add a few more handfuls of this ingredient–or, better yet, make it the main entree! Including a little more mushroom to your favorite meal is a tasty and rewarding move.

There are:

  • 140,000 species of mushroom-forming fungi.
  • Close to 100 types of mushrooms being studied for their health benefits.
  • A small number found to be very beneficial for boosting your immune system.

“Mushrooms are miniature pharmaceutical factories, and of the thousands of mushroom species in nature, our ancestors and modern scientists have identified several dozen that have a unique combination of talents that improve our health,” says leading mushroom research, Paul Stamets, who has written six books about mushrooms.

8 Wondrous Health Benefits of Eating Mushrooms

 1. Helps with Weight Loss

Try substituting white button mushrooms for red meat. Studies showed this may support a healthy weight. They contain two types of dietary fiber, chitin and beta-glucans, which help make you feel fuller and eat less.

2. Full of Vitamin D

Mushroom extract can provide as much vitamin D as supplements.

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 3. Lowers Cancer Risk

The abundant vitamin D in mushrooms has been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

White button mushroom contain phytochemicals that inhibit breast cancer. One white button mushroom a day lowered women’s risk of cancer by half, compared to their counterparts who didn’t eat any.

4. Useful Antibacterial Properties

Antibiotics like penicillin, tetracycline, and streptomycin all derived from the extracts of fungi.

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5. Strengthens the Immune System

It was found that one or two servings of dried shiitake mushrooms strengthened the immune system.

6. Good for Digestion

Mushrooms have good dietary fiber and fungal enzymes to help with digestion.

7. Good for the Heart

Eating mushrooms can help to lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases because they are high in potassium, fiber and low in sodium.

8. Full of Nutrients

  • excellent source of antioxidants
  • B vitamins (especially niacin), and vitamin D2
  • even have protein
  • high in selenium
  • good source of vegan iron
  • One cup of chopped raw white mushrooms contains 15 calories, 0 grams of fat, 2.2 grams of protein, 2.3 grams of carbohydrates.Mushroom have been considered "food for the gods' and 'givers of immortality'. Not bad!

Little-Known Mushroom Facts

  • Egyptians thought mushrooms granted immortality.
  • Ancient Romans considered mushrooms “food for the gods.”
  • The folklore in China, Russia and Mexico believed that mushrooms give superhuman strength.
  • China is currently the world’s largest commercial producer of mushrooms.
  • Americans consume about 900 million pounds of mushrooms a year.
  • 95 percent of the mushrooms eaten are the common button mushroom and its relatives, the Crimini and the Portabello mushrooms.

Most Common Types of Edible Mushrooms

Chanterelles, Cremini, Morels, Portobello, Enoki, Shiitake, Oyster, Button, Porcini and Hen of the woods.

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How to Select, Store and Use Mushrooms

  • Selectmushrooms that are plump, firm and clean — not ones that have wet slimy spots or are wrinkled.
  • Buy organically grown, because mushrooms easily absorb harmful contaminants from soil, air and water.
  • Don’t pick mushrooms in the wild unless you 100 percent know what you are picking.
  • Store mushrooms in a paper bag in the fridge. When mushrooms begin to expire, they develop a slimy layer on the surface.

Have your own Organic Mushroom Farm: You can grow mushrooms right out of the box in ten days! Just add water twice a day. The neat thing is they grow on recycled coffee grounds. Check out Back to the Roots for more details.

If you don’t like to eat mushrooms whole, you can find them in supplement form either as an extract or whole food supplements.

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Here are a couple of recipes to get you started:

Miso Soup With Spinach & Mushrooms:  The Japanese insist on this healthy, tasty food.

Magnificent Mushroom GravyIf you like mushrooms, you will love this gravy.

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