Food for Thought: Health Benefits of Mushrooms
- Ever wonder how certain foods affect your body?
- Do you want to know which ingredients can help support your health?
- Are you looking for new creative recipes?
Welcome to our Food for Thought blog series that will aim to address these questions and more each month! Tune in for expert nutritional tips from Masha Fox-Rabinovich, outpatient dietitian and diabetes educator at Washington Adventist Hospital, and savvy cooking techniques from Randall Smith, executive chef for Adventist HealthCare.
This month, it’s all about mushrooms!
Mushrooms are unique veggies in that they are fungi, not plants, Masha explains. Even though there are many different types that vary nutritionally, they all share the following characteristics that make them a wonderful food to include in your diet!
- Fibers (both soluble and insoluble fibers): Beneficial for blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels, digestion, and heart health. Additionally, fibers can reduce your risk for certain cancers, among other benefits.
- Beta-glucans: These are special types of fiber molecules known for boosting the immune system.
- Copper: A trace mineral that is essential for red blood cell production, bone health and nervous system function.
- Selenium: A mineral antioxidant that protects the body’s cells from oxidative damage, supporting heart health, the immune system, proper thyroid function, and even helps with depression.
- Potassium: A mineral required for fluid balance and maintaining a healthy blood pressure, muscle and nerve function, and heart health.
- Vitamin D2: Mushrooms are the only plant food source of vitamin D. Vitamin D plays an essential role in many reactions in the body. Most notably, it helps the body absorb calcium. It promotes healthy bones and muscle, nerve, and immune function. Vitamin D deficiency has been connected to heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, and other serious medical problems. Ask your doctor to check your vitamin D levels!
- B vitamins: Particularly pantothenic acid, riboflavin, and niacin, B vitamins are essential for energy metabolism (the breakdown of carbohydrates, proteins and fats) and nervous system health.
In addition to being nutrient-dense, mushrooms can be very filling and they have umami taste. Umami is one of the five basic tastes (the other four are sweet, salty, bitter, and sour), which is best described as savory and flavorful. Eating umami-rich whole foods such as mushrooms can help reduce portion sizes and salt use.
Tune in this Friday for tips on cooking with mushrooms! What foods are you curious about? We’d like to hear from you. Please share your questions in the comments section below.