5 of the healthiest mushrooms you can eat, according to a dietician

Mushrooms, which are botanically classified as fungi, are rich in health-promoting compounds such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fiber and antioxidants.

Studies show that eating mushrooms regularly can improve the quality of your diet, protect against heart disease, support immune health, and even extend your lifespan.

While all edible mushrooms are healthy, some stand out for their impressive nutritional profile and positive health effects.

Here are 5 of the healthiest mushrooms you can eat.

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oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus species) are a group of edible mushrooms cultivated worldwide. They are nutritious, highly productive and easy to grow, making them one of the most popular and cultivated edible mushrooms.

Oyster mushrooms have an oyster-like shape, a mild umami flavor and a meaty texture. They are commonly enjoyed in recipes such as pasta, soups and meat dishes. Mushrooms can be purchased in grocery stores and are also commonly foraged by mushroom hunters as they grow in forests in many areas of the world.

Oyster mushrooms are low in calories and carbohydrates, but high in B vitamins such as niacin, pantothenic acid, folate and choline, as well as minerals such as potassium.

In addition to nutrients, oyster mushrooms are a rich source of antioxidants, such as the phenolic compounds gallic acid, p-coumaric acid, chlorogenic acid and naringenin, and the amino acid ergothioneine, all of which have powerful protective properties cellular They also provide beta-glucans, a soluble fiber that can help maintain healthy blood sugar and lipid levels.

A 2020 review of eight studies found that eating oyster mushrooms helped lower levels of blood sugar, triglycerides, and LDL (“bad” cholesterol), all of which could help protect against heart disease. heart

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Shiitake (Lentinus edodes) is an edible mushroom used for culinary and medicinal purposes for thousands of years. Originally from East Asia, shiitake mushrooms are cultivated worldwide and are commonly enjoyed in dishes such as stir-fries and soups. Shiitakes have a rich earthy flavor and meaty texture and are an excellent source of nutrients such as choline, copper, selenium and zinc.

Shiitake mushrooms are a great choice for pregnant and breastfeeding women as they are full of choline, a nutrient that is in high demand during these stages of life. For example, one cup of cooked shiitake mushrooms provides 116 milligrams (mg) of choline, covering 25% and 21% of the daily choline needs during pregnancy and lactation, respectively. Choline plays an important role in fetal growth and development, as well as metabolism, cell health and function, and neurotransmitter synthesis.

Shiitake mushrooms are also rich in immune and anti-inflammatory compounds. A 2015 study involving 52 people found that consuming 5 to 10 grams (g) of dried shiitake mushrooms daily for four weeks improved immune health by increasing levels of natural killer cells (NK cells) , which help protect against disease and illness, and led to reductions in inflammatory proteins such as C-reactive protein (CRP).

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Grifola leafy, commonly known as maitake or hen of the woods, is a nutritious mushroom that is a popular target for mushroom hunters and gatherers. Maitake is native to China, but also grows in other areas of the world, such as in the forests of North America. These mushrooms can weigh up to 50 pounds and grow in fan-shaped clusters at the base of trees. These clusters sometimes resemble the tail feathers of a hen, hence the name hen of the woods.

Maitake mushrooms have a rich, savory flavor and meaty texture that pairs well with vegetable, poultry and meat-based dishes. They are highly nutritious, providing B vitamins such as folate, niacin and riboflavin and minerals such as copper, which are needed for energy production, neurotransmitter synthesis and red blood cell production.

Studies suggest that maitake mushrooms have anti-cancer, immune-supporting, anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory properties. Maitake also contains compounds such as beta-glucans and amino acids, which may protect against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and support healthy aging.

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button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) they are the most consumed mushrooms in the world. Their classic umami taste and firm texture make them a popular choice for dishes like salads, pizzas and omelettes.

Mushrooms are highly nutritious and provide vitamins, minerals and fiber. They are especially rich in selenium, a mineral needed for the production of selenoproteins, which are specialized proteins needed for important functions such as thyroid hormone production. Selenoproteins also function as antioxidants, protecting cells from oxidative damage that could otherwise lead to disease.

A 3-ounce serving of mushrooms provides 9.3 micrograms (mcg) of selenium, covering about 17% of the recommended daily value (DV). Selenium has powerful cell-protective properties, and animal research results suggest that eating more selenium-rich mushrooms may help reduce the risk of health conditions related to oxidative damage, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

In addition, certain types of mushrooms can help increase levels of vitamin D, a nutrient that plays a critical role in bone health, immune function, and growth and development. Studies show that consuming mushrooms exposed to UV light can effectively increase blood levels of vitamin D to a degree similar to vitamin D supplements.

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Hericium erinaceus, commonly known as lion’s mane, is a unique-looking mushroom prized for its adaptogenic properties. Adaptogens are substances that increase the body’s resistance to stress, including physical, biological and chemical stressors. Adaptogens also protect the body from stress-related damage and support normal functioning during times of stress.

Research suggests that consuming lion’s mane mushrooms can help reduce stress and improve cognitive function. A small 2023 study of 41 adults found that after supplementing with 1.8 grams of lion’s mane per day for 28 days, participants reported significantly lower subjective stress scores compared to a placebo treatment and their initial stress levels. The study also found that a single dose of lion’s mane significantly increased performance speed on cognitive tests.

Lion’s mane has also been shown to have antioxidant, anticancer, and neuroprotective properties, likely due to its high concentration of phenolic acids, polysaccharides, and terpenoids, all of which have powerful cell-protective qualities.

Lion’s mane has a salty, seafood-like flavor and tender texture that’s delicious in pasta and cereal dishes. It gets its name from its white, hair-like body that resembles a lion’s mane. Lion’s mane can be purchased at specialty grocers and online and is also a popular mushroom among pickers.

When taken in supplement form in specific doses, certain mushrooms, such as lion’s mane, turkey tail, reishi, and cordyceps, have been shown to positively affect health.

For example, adaptogenic mushrooms such as lion’s mane and reishi can help protect the body from the effects of physical and mental stress, improve physical performance under stressful conditions, and benefit cognitive function. Other mushrooms are known for their immune support benefits and have even been used as alternative treatments for certain medical conditions, such as some cancers.

A 2023 review of 26 studies found that medicinal mushroom supplements, such as those containing specific components of turkey tail and shiitake mushrooms, may have the following effects in people with certain cancers, including breast cancer and colorectal cancer:

  • Prevent the spread of cancer
  • Prolong overall survival
  • Reduce side effects related to chemotherapy
  • Improve immune function
  • Improve the quality of life

Although many mushrooms used in supplements have a strong safety record and have not been associated with serious health risks, taking concentrated doses of mushrooms is not safe or appropriate for everyone. Some mushrooms have the potential to interact with common medications, trigger allergies, and increase the risk of symptoms in people with certain health conditions.

If you’re interested in supplementing with mushrooms, it’s important to check with your healthcare provider first, especially if you have underlying health conditions or take one or more medications.

Mushrooms are easy to prepare and can be enjoyed in a variety of recipes. Most people prefer cooked mushrooms, but some types, such as button mushrooms, can be eaten raw in dishes such as salads.

Here are some ways to incorporate mushrooms into your diet:

  • Add sliced ​​mushrooms to soups, stews and sauces
  • Use them in egg dishes, such as omelets, frittatas and quiches
  • Try them in your favorite pasta and cereal recipes
  • Add them to burgers, meatloaf and meatballs
  • Serve sautéed mushrooms as a tasty side dish
  • Top homemade pizza with your favorite mushrooms
  • Use sauteed mushrooms as a savory garnish for avocado toast

Mushrooms can be added to most savory dishes and can be mixed into baked goods such as breads.

Mushrooms vary in taste and texture, so you may need to experiment with different types and cooking methods to find a mushroom that suits your preferences.

Mushrooms are fungi that offer a variety of health benefits. Not only are mushrooms a source of essential nutrients, such as selenium and B vitamins, but eating certain types can promote heart health, reduce inflammation, and support cognitive function.

Oyster mushrooms, shiitake, maitake, button mushrooms, and lion’s mane are just a few types of mushrooms known to positively impact overall health.

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