Mushrooms are edible fungi and essentially saprophytes, organisms that thrive by extracting nutrients from dead and decaying plant and animal matter. Many of the world’s thousands of species of mushroom-forming fungi are being studied for their potential health bene ts and medicinal applications.
Mushrooms provide lean protein; they have no cholesterol or fat and have very few carbohydrates. e ber, and certain enzymes in mushrooms, also help lower cholesterol levels.
The high lean-protein content found in mushrooms helps burn cholesterol. Balancing levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, and HDL, the “good” cholesterol, is essential to prevent cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis, as well as heart attacks and strokes.
Low iron levels in the blood causes fatigue, headaches, reduced neural function and digestive issues. Mushrooms are a good source of iron that can be easily absorbed by the body; consuming them promotes the formation of red blood cells.
Mushrooms’ beta-glucans and conjugated linoleic acid have anti-carcinogenic effects. Linoleic acid is particularly helpful in suppressing the harmful effects of excess estrogen; increased estrogen is a prime cause of breast cancer in women after menopause. e beta-glucans inhibit the growth of cancerous cells in cases of prostate cancer.
Mushrooms are part of an ideal diet for diabetics. ey have no fats, no choles- terol, very low levels of carbohydrates, high protein content and a wealth of vitamins and minerals. ey also contain a lot of water and ber. ey have natural insulin and enzymes, which help break down sugars and starches in food. Diabetics o en su er from infections, particularly in their limbs, that tend to last for long periods. e natural antibiotics in mushrooms can help protect diabetics from these painful, potentially life-threatening conditions.
Mushrooms are a rich source of calcium, an essential nutrient for forming and strengthening bones. A steady supply of calcium in the diet can reduce the chances of developing conditions such as osteoporosis, and can also reduce joint pain.
Vitamin D is a relatively rare vitamin to nd in vegetables, but mushrooms have it. is essential vitamin can facilitate the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorous, which are also present in good amounts in mushrooms.
Ergothioneine, an antioxidant unique to mushrooms, can provide protection from free radicals and boost the immune system.
Mushrooms contain natural antibiotics, similar to penicillin, that inhibit microbial growth and other fungal infections. They stimulate and regulate the body’s immune system and help heal ulcers and ulcerous wounds.
Shiitake and maitake mushrooms have a high potassium content and act as vasodilators, relaxing tension in blood vessels and reducing blood pressure. High blood pressure is connected to a number of deadly conditions, particularly heart at- tacks and strokes. Potassium also increases cognitive function and improves memory and knowledge retention.
Try this recipe to bene t from the power of mushrooms.
Pesto Spinach Portobello1/2 cup walnuts 1/2 cup sun ower seeds 1 Tbs. garlic 2 cups spinach packed very tight 1/4 cup fresh basil 1 Tbs. coconut aminos 1 tsp. Himalayan salt pinch cayenne pepper 24 small portobello mushroom caps 1 red pepper Marinade 1/2 cup coconut aminos 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice 1 Tbs. chopped fresh ginger Soak the walnuts and sun ower seeds in 4 cups ltered alkaline water overnight and drain.
Remove the stems from the mushrooms. Marinate the mushrooms over night. Take out of the marinade and pat dry.
Chop the garlic, spinach and basil in a food processor. Add the walnuts, sun ower seeds, salt, pepper and coconut aminos and continue to blend until creamy and thick.
Fill mushroom caps with the spinach pesto and decorate with minced red pepper.
Brenda Cobb is author of The Living Foods Lifestyle and founder of e Living Foods Institute, which offers courses on nutrition, cleansing, healing, anti-aging, detoxification, relaxation and cleansing therapies. For more information, call 404-524-4488 or visit www.livingfoodsinstitute.com.