For many years now, human beings have been cherishing mushrooms because in addition to being food, they offer numerous medicinal benefits. While that fact is not likely to surprise many people, some might be surprised to learn that mushrooms are actually a type of fungi.
Although there are many types of mushrooms, approximately 14,000 species known to man, only about 3,000 mushroom species are edible. While only about 700 variety of the crop contain medicinal properties.
It is important also to note that some species are poisonous to human beings. Fortunately, these are less than 1% of the aforementioned 14,000 species.
Mushrooms: The Wonder Food and Medicine
It is difficult to overemphasize the numerous health benefits of mushrooms. Mushrooms contain between 80 and 90% water and are very low in calories. In fact, an ounce of mushrooms contains just 100 calories. In addition, they contain very small amounts of sodium and fat. While between 8 and 10% of their dry weight is fibre.
On the other hand, they are very rich in potassium. To put that in perspective, a medium-sized mushroom of the portabella species contains more potassium than a glass of orange juice or a banana. Potassium is important in combating high blood pressure as well as significantly reducing the risk of a stroke. Just one normal portion of mushrooms provides about 40% of the recommended daily allowance for copper.
Another vital mineral found in mushrooms is selenium, a very important mineral in combating high blood pressure and prostate cancer in men. A medical study conducted in Baltimore in 2009 to study the health benefits of Selenium in aging men found that men with low levels of selenium in their blood were 4 to 5 times more likely to develop prostate cancer compared to men who had high levels of the mineral.
Further, men who consumed about twice the recommended daily intake of selenium had a 65% lower chance of developing hypertension. Mushrooms also contain high amounts of riboflavin and niacin, some of the most important vitamins required by the human body. It is hard to find any other plant species that has nearly as many health benefits, as mushrooms do.
Types of Mushrooms
Now, different species of mushrooms contain different active ingredients that play specific functions in the human body. To clarify that further, here a few species of mushrooms and their functions:
Generally, these are very helpful in weight management and in the prevention of prostate cancer in men. White mushrooms include button mushrooms, portabella, and cremini. White mushrooms contain a special carbohydrate that fires up the body’s metabolic rate. Ultimately, this leads to weight loss. According to some studies, consuming about three ounces of white mushrooms every day for a period spanning four to six weeks is likely to result in considerable weight loss. Moreover, they contain high amounts of selenium.
Aside from looking like a small trumpet, it has good anti-microbial as well as antibacterial properties. It is rich in Vitamin C and D as well as high levels of selenium.
Currently, some health experts are trying to determine whether oyster mushrooms could offer a remedy for HIV. While the jury is still out on that, scientists have determined that they contain high amounts of anti-oxidants.
These mushrooms have a long stem with a tiny cap. For useful chemical compounds, they contain beta-glucans. The National Cancer Institute of Japan has found that beta-glucans are very helpful in fighting cancer and destroying tumours. They are also useful in soothing symptoms of asthma as well as treating diabetes.
This meaty mushroom looks quite similar to portabella and contains high amounts of anti-inflammatory compounds.
These mushrooms look like trumpeting bushels and are good at fighting breast cancer.
Many individuals consider the reishi mushroom to be the jewel in the crown of the mushroom family due to its very well documented anti-inflammatory and natural pain relief properties. This mushroom, also known as Lingzhi in Chinese or Ganoderma in English, is white and brown in color and typically has numerous medicinal properties including anticancer, antibacterial, antioxidant, antiviral and anti-fungal properties. The word Ganoderma derives from one of Reishi’s main ingredients-Ganodermic acid. Ganodermic acid helps to lower cholesterol in the body as well as lower high blood pressure. The mushroom boosts the body’s immune system and builds up stamina.
Reishi, also known as Ganoderma, offers numerous health benefits. Here is a brief rundown of the many health benefits of this wonder crop:
Cancer / Immune System
Some patients, especially those suffering from cancer and HIV, use reishi as an immune booster. It helps to stem off the proliferation of cancerous cells. A study conducted in 2003 on 34 patients with advanced cancer who were given Ganoderma supplements 3 times a day for 12 weeks showed that the levels of T-Cells in these patients rose significantly. T-Cells play a central role in the body’s immune defense system. Lab tests have also shown that combining Ganoderma extracts with Green Tea slowed down cancer growth in breast cancer patients.
Several studies have shown that Ganoderma contains anti-oxidant properties that are vital in fighting off diseases and control premature aging. These compounds are also excellent in reducing joint pains and fighting arthritis, two common diseases for older people.
UTI-Urinary Tract Infections
A study conducted in 2008 on 88 men with UTIs proved that Ganoderma provided significant relief in patients with urinary tract infections.
Active Ingredients in Ganoderma
Antioxidant compounds are useful in slowing down as well as reversing the aging process. Ganoderma contains numerous anti-oxidant compounds that can potentially reduce and even reverse DNA damage by free radicals.
Ganoderma Polysaccharides help to repair the body’s immune system, the digestive system, improve pancreatic function, and regulate blood sugar levels more effectively. The polysaccharides also help the body to flush out harmful toxins that are responsible for premature ageing and a host of other ailments.
Superoxide Dismutase (SOD)
This is an important enzyme present in this species of mushroom. According to various research findings, SOD acts as a protective compound that helps the body’s cells ward off free radical attacks. This is an important factor in controlling premature aging as well as many diseases caused by the presence of excess free radicals in one’s body.
This is yet another vital nutrient present in the Reishi or lingzhi mushroom. Various scientific findings show that germanium raises the body’s oxygen levels and improve overall health and vitality of the body’s cells. Consequently, this boosts one’s energy levels as well as stamina.
Many people are just now beginning to discover the numerous health benefits of mushrooms. This is a good thing because medicinal mushrooms such as reishi are more of “medicinal mushrooms” than culinary delights. To enjoy the many health benefits of this wonder-mushroom, you can purchase reishi tablets or liquid extracts that are available in many health stores. However, to derive maximum health benefits from such products, you should take either the mushroom or its extracts every day for at least 2 months.Find out more about our recommended mushroom supplement.
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