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Health Benefits of Mushrooms

By Amy Silva

Mushrooms are a food most either love or hate, but being able to tolerate them for potential health benefits is a good idea. Most grocery stores carry the more common types that are often used in different cuisines, but there isn't a lot of variety. Other mushroom varieties can be found in specialty or ethnic food stores if you have a recipe that calls for one not found at your local grocer. They can be added to soups, stews, salads, sauces and meat dishes. Different mushrooms have different flavors so if you've tried one or two and weren't a fan, try others.

About Mushrooms

Cultivation of mushrooms is thought to have begun in the late 1700s in England and mushrooms are now commercially grown all over the world including the United States and Japan. Some varieties are cultivated in dark conditions on mushroom farms where the temperature must be humid and in the mid to upper 50s. Others, such as the shiitake mushroom, are grown on logs that are rotting in Japan. Depending on the variety it can take nearly eight weeks for mushrooms to be harvested.

Health Benefits of Mushrooms

Although they are mostly water, mushrooms have fiber and antioxidants that include choline and selenium and various vitamins and minerals that may boost your health. They contain potassium, Vitamin B, calcium, copper, Vitamin C, folate, selenium and phosphorus, to name a few. These and the other nutrients found in mushrooms could have health benefits such as maintaining or improving muscle and nerve function, making red blood cells, and keeping skin healthy. It's possible mushrooms can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, help regulate blood sugar and lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. For those who have type 2 diabetes, eating mushrooms could reduce glucose levels. Studies show a diet that includes mushrooms could even lower the chances of cancers, including lung and breast cancers.

Common Mushrooms

  • Shiitake - Shiitake mushrooms have a savory flavor and are used in soups and as a topping on certain dishes and sauces
  • Portobello - Portobellos are often used as a meat substitute and are simply large button mushrooms
  • Button - Also referred to as white mushrooms, these have a mild flavor similar to portobellos and are the most popular mushroom type in American grocery stores
  • Enoki - Used in Asian cuisines, enoki mushrooms are thin with small caps and are used in salads and soups

Mushrooms may provide health benefits and adding them to your diet isn't difficult even if you aren't a big fan of them. If you mix them into different meals, such as stir-fry or salads, you may barely notice they're there.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Auburn, Calif. 

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