Mushrooms are used medicinally in many cultures. However, science is only now catching up with the ways in which they actually help us. Most research has been carried out on types like Lion’s Mane and Coriolus that we don’t usually eat here. All types of edible mushrooms contain varying degrees of protein and fibre however. They also contain b vitamins and a host of other vitamins and minerals.
Are all mushrooms medicinal?
In a way, YES! They have a unique ability to concentrate elements from their environment, and as such even the humble button mushroom has extremely high levels of protein, selenium, beta glucans, lignans and lots more.
Polysaccharide compounds called beta glucans contained in mushrooms boost the army (white blood cells) of our immune system and upregulate their response to pathogens or damaged cells. Shiitake mushrooms provide important immune support and are licensed for treatment of some forms of cancer in Japan. This immune support can also be beneficial for immune related subfertility
Mushrooms and cholesterol
Shiitake contain a substance called eritadenine which can lower ‘bad’ (LDL) cholesterol, while improving levels of the ‘good’ (HDL) cholesterol. Eritadenine does it by influencing the way in which the liver produces cholesterol in the first place.
Some mushrooms also contain lignans which are a class of phytonutrient or plant-nutrient called phytoestrogens. These can provide oestrogenic or anti-oestrogenic activity where appropriate. Others can improve insulin resistance by enhancing glucose utlitisation in the muscle. So, these wonderful fungi have multiple benefits outside of immune support.
We don’t recommend taking therapeutic doses of medicinal mushrooms without tailored advice from your nutritional therapist but there are some fantastic mushroom teas and coffees available which can be enjoyed by most. We can also include them in our diet regularly to gain some of their benefit. Try our Asian risotto with shiitake mushrooms – a delicious and healthy meal option.
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