Whether added to a salad, soup, or stir-fry, or taken in supplement form, there are a myriad of ways to add mushrooms to your diet—and why not? In addition to mushrooms’ delicious taste, their polyphenol, polysaccharide (a specialized type of carbohydrate), vitamin, and mineral contents can provide you with a bounty of health benefits.
1. Boost immune system
Research has shown that mushrooms help to stimulate the activity of microphages—white blood cells within the immune system—to help fight off foreign bodies more effectively. At the same time, anti-inflammatory effects of mushrooms can work to enhance the immune system’s overall efficiency.
2. Fight inflammation
Rich in antioxidants, mushrooms offer significant anti-inflammatory effects. Research indicates that eating mushrooms regularly can help reduce inflammation associated with the development of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and arthritis.
3. Offer anti-cancer properties
Polysaccharides, contained in mushrooms, have been found to induce apoptosis—cancer cell death. Further, anti-inflammatory effects of mushrooms can help reduce chronic inflammation that can lead to the development of cancer.
4. May help fight diabetes
Mushrooms have been found to help lower blood sugar levels. Their bioactive metabolites, such as their polysaccharides and proteins, have been found to work as successful anti-hyperglycemic agents in diabetes treatment studies. Still, more research is needed to discern how mushrooms may be effectively used in the fight against diabetes.
5. Support gut health
Mushrooms can help support your gut health in two ways. First, they provide your body with prebiotics—nutrients that act as food for the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Second, mushrooms, such as cremini mushrooms, provide your system with helpful bacteria that can help populate your gut to improve your digestion and immune responses.
6. Offer antifungal and antibacterial effects
Mushrooms possess both antibacterial and antifungal compounds that help them survive, making them a natural source of antibiotics and antifungals that can be utilized by humans. Some mushrooms have been found to offer compounds with considerable activity against bacteria such as E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Bacillus subtilis.
7. Protect the liver
Some mushroom extracts have been found to provide liver-protecting properties. Study findings suggest that eating mushrooms on a regular basis can alleviate non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). These findings are believed to be linked to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of mushrooms.
8. Reduce allergies
While mushrooms have been found to stimulate the immune system in certain circumstances, they have also been found to help suppress immune response in other instances—making them potentially beneficial in the battle against allergies. Beta-glucans, which are contained in mushrooms, have been found to help reduce the severity of symptoms in those with ragweed allergies by 52 percent when taken as a supplement.
BetsyHealth Note: This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease. Consult your healthcare provider before trying a supplement, especially if you have a medical condition, including being pregnant or nursing, take prescription or over-the-counter medications, or are planning on having surgery.
By Laura Newton
Article copyright 2023 by Alive Publishing Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Photo by Valeria Boltneva: