Health Benefits of Mushrooms
Whatever your favourite — crimini, enoki, oyster, portobello, shiitake or white button — all mushrooms are loaded with essential nutrients.
Many varieties of mushrooms contain good-for-your-bladder selenium and, like us, they produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Oyster mushrooms are a good source or iron. Plus, they’re low in calories: Six medium white, for example, have just 22. Here are some of the many health benefits of mushrooms.
Increase your vitamin D
Yes, vitamin D! Mushrooms are the only fruit or vegetable source of this critical vitamin. Like humans, mushrooms produce vitamin D when in sunlight. Exposing them to high levels of ultraviolet B just before going to market converts more of the plant sterol ergosterol into the so-called sunshine vitamin. In the U.S., portobellos fortified with vitamin D are already being sold, with a three-ounce (85-gram) serving providing about 400 IU of vitamin D (Osteoporosis Canada recommends that adults under 50 get 400 to 1,000 IU daily). William Stevens, CEO of the trade organization Mushrooms Canada, says, “A couple of Canadian producers are already testing this procedure.” He adds that “high D” or “sunshine” mushrooms should be in stores here in about six months or so.
Boost your immune system
A study done on mice and published by the American Society for Nutrition found that white button mushrooms may promote immune function by increasing the production of antiviral and other proteins that are released by cells while they are trying to protect and repair the body’s tissues. A later study showed that these mushrooms promoted the maturation of immune system cells — called dendritic cells — from bone marrow. According to the researchers, this may help enhance the body’s immunity leading to better defence systems against invading microbes.
Eat your antioxidants
When it comes to antioxidants — the substances that help fight free radicals that are the result of oxidation in our body — we’re more likely to think of colourful vegetables than neutral-hued mushrooms. But a study at Penn State university showed that the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) — a measure of a food’s total antioxidants — of crimini and portobello mushrooms were about the same as for red peppers.
Kick up your metabolism
B vitamins are vital for turning food (carbohydrates) into fuel (glucose), which the body burns to produce energy. They also help the body metabolize fats and protein. Mushrooms contain loads of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and vitamin B3 (niacin): 100 grams (31/2 ounces) of crimini have 44 percent and 30 percent of your daily recommended amount, respectively, white button have 36 and 30 percent, and oyster mushrooms have 32 and 39 percent.
Be good to your bladder
An analysis of seven studies — published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention — showed that the higher the level of selenium, as measured in blood serum and toenails, the lower the risk of bladder cancer. Selenium had a significant protective effect mainly among women, which the researchers believe may result from gender-specific differences in this its accumulation and excretion. Several types of mushrooms are rich in this essential trace mineral: 100 grams of raw crimini have 47 percent of your daily needs, cooked shiitakes have 45 percent and raw white button have 17 percent.