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Mmmushrooms

Marvelous and medicinal

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Mmmushrooms

Most of us think of mushrooms as a type of vegetable; however, with no roots, leaves, flowers, or seeds, and with no need for sunlight to grow, mushrooms are nothing like vegetables.

Most of us think of mushrooms as a type of vegetable; however, with no roots, leaves, flowers, or seeds, and with no need for sunlight to grow, mushrooms are nothing like vegetables.

Calling them a fungus isn’t exactly accurate either, since what we recognize as a mushroom is actually the fruit of the fungus. Mushrooms are in a special category of their own, which is partly why they offer unique health benefits.

Just as they draw upon decaying matter to grow, it’s thought they also draw, or absorb, toxins in the body and safely eliminate them. This detoxifying action makes the mushroom a valuable food for preventing disease. Studies show that the unique structure of the mushroom’s cell walls, specifically a sugar-protein combination, is mainly responsible for their health benefits.

Healing from Asia

Asian mushrooms such as the reishi are powerful enough to be regarded as a food for longevity. In fact, Chinese herbalists consider the reishi one of the most beneficial medicines available. Reishi, shiitake, and maitake mushrooms contain a large variety of biologically active healing ingredients and properties that stimulate the immune system. Such ingredients are what give them their healing reputation and explain their anticancer effects.

Reishi mushrooms have been shown useful in the prevention and treatment of stomach ulcers, while shiitake mushrooms have been shown to have an antimicrobial effect, and maitake mushrooms have been documented as a cholesterol-lowering food. All three of these Asian mushrooms have been studied for their role in the prevention and treatment of cancer.

Nutritious and Delicious

Most mushrooms, including the button-type mushrooms widely available in North America, are also rich in vitamins, fibre, and amino acids. Despite their meaty and satisfying taste, however, mushrooms are low in fat, cholesterol, and calories. Mushrooms are also one of the few foods that offer a rich source of the trace mineral, germanium, which improves oxygenation in the body’s cells and enhances immunity.

Do not pick or eat wild mushrooms–only a well-trained eye can differentiate between those that are safe, toxic, or even potentially deadly.

Store mushrooms unwashed in a paper bag in the refrigerator. Do not run mushrooms under water, as they will absorb dirt. The best way to clean them is with a mushroom brush or by wiping them with a damp cloth. Since mushrooms contain natural glutamic acid (the natural version of MSG), they add a wonderful flavour to any recipe when cooked.

Healing Mushrooms

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) is pronounced RAY-she. It is the most studied and commonly used medicinal mushroom.

Maitake (Grifola frondosa) is pronounced my-TAH-key. It is known as “king of the mushrooms” because of its large size and many health benefits.

Shiitake (Lentinus edodes) is pronounced she-TAH-key. It is high in protein and makes a good meat substitute.

Recipe

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