For a food that grows in the shadows, mushrooms are about to enjoy some well-deserved time in the spotlight.
Why mushrooms will be trending in 2017
The incredible health benefits of mushrooms have stood the test of time. Mushroom extracts and whole bulbs have been a food source for ancient populations, and have served as medicinal products in the form of tinctures, powders and teas for centuries. There are tens of thousands of strains of mushrooms in the wild; some are nutritious, others are poisonous, and many contain medicinal properties that are gaining attention from the medical community and health trend-hunters alike.
What are the health benefits of mushrooms?
Common strains of edible mushrooms, including button and cremini mushrooms, are a rich source of B-vitamins and minerals, including selenium and copper. A growing list of medicinal mushrooms available at your local CHFA Member health food store are being recognized for other benefits as well.
For example, some mushroom extracts pack a series of health benefits related to improving mental and nerve cell health. Key strains being researched include reishi, chaga, shiitake, Lion’s Mane and oyster mushrooms. Research has suggested that these medicinal mushrooms offer benefits such as improved memory and learning, and a decrease in anxiety and depressive symptoms. In fact, compounds in the Lion’s Mane mushroom have been shown to improve the protective covering of nerve cells (called myelin) from damage, relating to reductions in cognitive decline.
When it comes to the immune system, the benefits of reishi and chaga mushroom extracts are well documented. Reishi mushrooms have been consumed for thousands of years in Asia, steeped in hot water to make a tea. This process of hot-water extraction can release beneficial carbohydrates and fibres that have potent immune system effects. For instance, these active compounds can increase the production of certain white blood cells to help identify and break down invading bugs.
An easy-to-find mushroom to try in 2017 for big health benefits is the shiitake mushroom, which contains a unique source of compounds called eritadenines. These rare compounds have been studied by researchers at the University of Japan and found to significantly reduce cholesterol levels in the blood. Research also shows that the compounds in shiitake mushrooms can also help to fight obesity, support cardiovascular health, as well as promote skin health due to their high levels of selenium, an important mineral for our antioxidant defenses.
How you can incorporate mushrooms into your 2017 healthy habits
Many people are already aware that incorporating more plant-based foods into their diet reaps many benefits. Mushrooms can be a simple and delicious way to boost meatless meals in a hurry. Whether you toss them into a salad or throw them on the barbecue, there’s no denying their nutritional benefits.
Enjoy one of the many mushroom-based teas that are available at natural health stores, or make your own by steeping dried mushrooms. Rich and earthy, these teas combine various strains of mushrooms like reishi, Lion’s Mane, shiitake, or chaga for all their delicious immune-boosting benefits.
If you don’t have a taste for them, supplements offer a simple way to incorporate the benefits of mushrooms into your lifestyle. A great example is maitake mushroom supplements, which have been studied to be potent immune boosters due to the high concentration of beneficial fibre called beta-glucan. Visit your local CHFA Member health food store to explore the many options available.