The Healing Power of Mushrooms: Myths and Realities

The Healing Power of Mushrooms: Myths and Realities

When people consider the nutritional value of mushrooms, nothing immediately comes to mind. They are not high in protein, they don't contain many vitamins or minerals, and they aren't a fruit or a vegetable. Many people mistakenly conclude from this that mushrooms aren't really very healthy. This is myth #1. In fact, mushrooms should be an integral component of any person's diet.

When I make some type of food a staple of my diet, I have two criteria. First, it must have high nutritional value. As we will see, mushrooms have myriad health benefits and easily meet this condition. And second, it must taste good. I don't add things to my diet that I have to force down. This is a recipe for disaster. If you hate your diet, you'll start with a few "cheat meals" and very soon abandon it altogether.

For me at least, mushrooms meet this second condition as well. There are so many types of mushrooms to choose from and so many different ways to incorporate them into your diet. Not only will they make your diet more healthful, they'll also make it easier to follow. Here we'll focus on shiitake mushrooms, their benefits and ways to include them in your diet.

Health Benefits

Shiitake mushrooms have two major health impacts: immune support and cardiovascular benefits.

  • Immune support. The impact of shiitake mushrooms on the immune system are astounding, almost magical. Some studies have shown that shiitake mushrooms prevent excessive immune system activity; others have shown that they increase immune system activity. Although these results appear contradictory, really they illustrate the power of these mushrooms. They shut down the immune system when it's not needed and would waste energy, and rev it up when it is needed. In this way, shiitake mushrooms provide customized support for our immune system under all circumstances.
  • Cardiovascular benefits. Another impact of shiitake mushrooms is on our cardiovascular systems. A significant amount of research has documented their ability to lower cholesterol and provide antioxidant support which helps unclog arteries.

Selection, Storage, and Preparation

Many grocery stores and supermarkets carry shiitake mushrooms. If yours doesn't, look for an Asian food store - they almost always carry shiitake and other specialty mushrooms. The best shiitake mushrooms will be firm; avoid wrinkly mushrooms. Make sure that the store you buy them from cleans them. Shiitake mushrooms will keep for about a week if you refrigerate them in a paper bag. Dried mushrooms will keep for up to a year. As noted above, there are many ways to prepare mushrooms and we can't even scratch the surface here. You could prepare mushrooms a different way every day for the rest of your life. Here's a great recipe for day 1.

Roasted Asparagus with Shiitake Mushrooms in Lemon Sauce

Roasted Asparagus with Shiitake Mushrooms

Learn how to create a beautiful side dish in this video recipe for Roasted Asparagus with Mushrooms in Lemon Sauce. Perfect as a side for beef, chicken or seafoodm this recipe is easy to prepare.

See full recipe here.

CATEGORIES: Recipes, Healthy Foods, Heart Health, Vegan, Vegetarian