Mushrooms have been used for over a thousand years for food and medicinal purposes. They are flavorful and “meaty” while also being highly nutritious and beneficial to your health.
Mushrooms are an excellent source of vitamin D, and the only vegan food source for D. This is especially helpful in the winter when we get less sunlight. In addition to being important for your immune system, vitamin D is vital for bone health and to help reduce cancer risk.
Mushrooms, especially crimini, are also a great source of zinc which is a vital nutrient for immunity.
Mushrooms contain selenium, a powerful antioxidant which helps prevent cancer, heart disease, cognitive decline, and thyroid disease. They are also high in glutathione and ergothioneine, which together help fight aging and age-related diseases.
Lower Blood Pressure
Mushrooms are rich in potassium, which counteracts the effect of excess sodium in your body to keep your blood pressure under control. Potassium is also necessary for electrolyte balance and muscle contraction and is helpful for recovery after exercise.
Mushrooms provide prebiotic carbohydrates which serve as food for our good gut bacteria, known as probiotics. A healthy but microbiome is important for a healthy immune system as well as proper digestive function.
Mushrooms are great sources of the B vitamin riboflavin for energy production and metabolizing fat, niacin for metabolizing proteins, carbs, and fats, as well as pantothenic acid for helping with hormone production and nervous system function.
Readily available varieties of mushrooms include button, crimini, oyster, portobello and shiitake. They are good sources of protein and their meaty texture make them a great substitute for meat in casseroles and sauces, on pizza, or they can be sauteed with garlic and herbs and served as a side dish. Portobello mushrooms make great burgers and can also be stuffed. Varieties can be mixed and stir fried or roasted with other vegetables, and they are great with pasta or in soups.
Although mushrooms are actually fungi and not technically plants, they are also not meat and are an important addition to vegan or mostly plant-based diets.