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Mushrooms. We stuff them, slice them, sauté and grill them, but how much do we really know about them? Beyond that they are their own kingdom of fungi, grown from the ground, and that there are various types, most people don’t know about the nutritional and health benefits of mushrooms. Once you discover these benefits you’ll be eating mushrooms for more than their unique taste.
#1 Vitamin B
Mushrooms are an excellent source of B vitamins, which assist in providing energy to break down proteins, fats and carbohydrates. B vitamins also provide crucial support to the nervous system. Some specific B vitamins that are provided by mushrooms include:
• Riboflavin: helps maintain healthy red blood cells.
• Niacin: promotes healthy skin and makes sure the digestive and nervous systems function properly.
• Pantothenic Acid: assists in the production of hormones and plays an important role in the nervous system.
#2 Minerals And Nutrients
Mushrooms provide a wide variety of minerals and nutrients that support our health, including:
• Selenium: This mineral works as an antioxidant to protect body cells from damage that could lead to heart disease, some cancers, and other diseases from aging. Selenium has been found to support fertility in men, and the immune system. Most people count on grains and animal products for selenium, but mushrooms are the only produce that contains significant amounts of this antioxidant.
• Ergothioneine: This naturally occurring antioxidant in mushrooms may also protect the cells in our body.
• Copper: This mineral helps produce red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body. Copper also helps keep bones and nerves healthy.
• Potassium: Mushrooms contain more potassium than bananas, with fewer calories and sugar. This mineral controls blood pressure by helping with the maintenance of normal fluid and mineral balance. It also plays a key role in making sure nerves and muscles, including the heart, function correctly.
• Beta-glucans: This is found in several mushroom species, and has shown remarkable immunity-stimulating effects, helps your body become resistant to allergies, and may contribute to the physiological processes of metabolizing fats and sugars in the body. To get the most beta-glucans from mushrooms, it is best to eat oyster, shitake, or the split gill variety.
#3 Weight Management
Mushrooms are a hearty and filling food. They are also an excellent substitute for high calorie foods, because although they are low in calories and fat-free, they make you feel full and have a rich, savory flavor. Try substituting a Portobello mushroom cap for the ground beef patty in your next burger. Mushrooms are also low in sodium and gluten-free which makes them a great addition to any diet plan.
Mushrooms come in a wide variety, and are often grouped with vegetables at the grocery store because they provide the nutritional benefits of produce. But they are actually very versatile, taking on the flavor profile of meats and beans when finely chopped and added to dishes that contain those ingredients. Just make sure that your mushrooms are thoroughly cooked. Since their cell walls are tough, it makes it difficult for our bodies to digest them and get all the nutrients inside.
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