Surprising Effects of Eating Mushrooms
1. Mushrooms are surprisingly rich in vitamin D.
According to one review that looked at data from 2011-2012, 41.6% of adults in the United States are deficient in vitamin D. Yikes! While the best natural source of vitamin D is good ole fashioned sunshine, mushrooms are magic for the essential nutrient: “A recent study conducted in Australia found that mushrooms could provide anywhere from 50-100% of our daily vitamin D needs,” says Gillespie. “Vitamin D deficiency, which is very common among Americans, is associated with fatigue, compromised bone health, reduced immune function, and increased risk of chronic illness including certain types of cancer. By offering significant amounts of vitamin D, mushrooms can help combat these symptoms associated with a deficiency.”
2. They help fill gaps in your diet.
Tasty and nutritious sounds like a win-win to us. “Mushrooms are a great source of many micronutrients that are often under-consumed in the typical U.S. diet,” shares Stefanow. “According to a recent study, adding a serving of mushrooms can help you meet your micronutrient requirement without increasing calories, fat, or sodium.”
3. They fight inflammation.
Ready to combat inflammation? Bring on the mushrooms. “Mushrooms offer anti-inflammatory properties as well. Mushrooms are rich in selenium, a nutrient that has powerful antioxidant properties that help reduce inflammation,” says Gillespie. “Oyster mushrooms, as compared to other mushroom variations, offer further anti-inflammatory properties as a result of their rich beta-glucan content.” For more anti-inflammatory superfoods, check out this guide.
4. They may reduce your risk of being depressed.
Of course, no one food is going to cure mental health disorders, but there’s some evidence that coupled with a healthy diet, mushrooms may be a boon for supporting your noggin. “People who eat mushrooms may have lower odds of developing depression, according to recent research,” says Stefanow. “The researchers attribute this to the many bioactive compounds that make up mushrooms, including Vitamin B12, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds.”
5. They help support immunity.
Love mushrooms? Your immune system is grateful. “Mushrooms are the epitome of the food-as-medicine concept. They have been used for their medicinal properties for over 2,000 years,” says Marie Ruggles, MS, RD, CN, CDE, author Optimize Your Immune System: Create Health & Resilience with a KitchenPharmacy, noting that from a cooking perspective, they add an amazing culinary element to soups and stir-fries. “Medicinally, they contain compounds that activate immune activity at many levels—akin to one group of soldiers simultaneously fighting seven battles. Mushrooms are known for their wide array of bioactives, most notably their immune-enhancing beta-glucans,” she continues, pointing to this research. For all these reasons and more, Ruggles recommends consuming mushrooms in your meals at least twice weekly.
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