When you’re aiming for nutrition, you probably reach for all of the bright, colorful vegetables that doctors recommend. But if you’ve been overlooking the somewhat pigment-challenged mushroom, you might want to change that because what this food lacks in color, it more than makes up for in health benefits. Neither a fruit nor a vegetable, these fleshy fruit bearing bodies of fungus offer a truly unique nutritional profile that deserves a second look. Here are some reasons why the humble mushroom may not be so humble, after all!
- Beta-Glucans: Mushrooms have large stores of this special fiber in their cell walls. Beta-glucans display a unique ability to boost insulin function and could play a role in diets designed to ward off diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
- Selenium: This mineral is absolutely vital for human health but isn’t found in the majority of fruits and vegetables. A deficiency can cause everything from muscle aches and joint pains to autoimmune disorders like Hashimoto’s. The solution? A 100 gram serving of any type of mushroom gives you up to 40% of your daily selenium intake, providing anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory effects as well as being a detoxifier of certain cancerous compounds.
- Folate: Folate is at the root of another one of mushrooms’ anti-cancer benefits. It provides a powerfully DNA protective effect and even repairs existing damage, preventing the appearance and proliferation of cancer cells.
- Choline: This superior inflammation-fighting nutrient makes mushrooms an excellent choice for banishing inflammation-led weight gain, boosting brain function and even improving sleep quality.
- Potassium, Fiber, & Vitamin C: Mushrooms combine this heart-healthy trifecta, making them a go-to for preventing and managing everything from high blood pressure and high cholesterol to aortic damage.
- B-Vitamins: All mushrooms offer up a good dose of energizing B-complex vitamins. B-complex vitamins are also useful in fending off anemia and a 100 gram serving of mushrooms can give you nearly a third of your daily recommended intake.
- Vitamin D: Mushrooms are the only non-animal source of vitamin D. Vitamin D is helpful in fighting off obesity, preventing autoimmune disorders, regulating sleep cycles and may have an anti-depressive effect, as well. Wild mushrooms can generate vitamin D naturally from small amounts of sun exposure, creating enough to more than cover the daily recommended intake of 15mcg.
- Copper: Mushrooms are a fantastic source of copper. Copper is necessary for producing the body’s neurotransmitters and tendons and 100 grams of any mushroom will give you 25% of your daily intake.
- Phosphorus: 11% of your daily phosphorus, which is necessary for bone and dental structure, is available in a single serving of mushrooms.
- Chromium: Along with beta-glucan, chromium plays a role in mushrooms’ protective effect against diabetes. Chromium can help to regulate blood glucose and just one serving of mushrooms provides more than half of your daily intake.
While vegetables get all the glory, leaving room on that plate of beets, broccoli or kale for some portobellos, shiitakes or criminis can give you an even greater nutritional boost!