Mushrooming has been shown to provide numerous health benefits

There are several reasons why you might want to add mushrooms to your daily menu. Now there’s even more reason!

Mushrooms bring a rich, earthy flavor to food without adding any extra fat, calories or salt. They’re also packed with nutrients, including fiber, protein, B vitamins and minerals such as iron, potassium and zinc. And they contain powerful antioxidants called polyphenols, which may help protect against heart diseases and certain cancers.

  1. Reduce the risk of cancer

According to research published in Cancer Prevention Research, consuming just 18 grams of mushroom per week could help prevent cancer by up to 45%. Mushrooming has been shown to be effective at preventing cancer because it contains ergothioneine, which helps protect cells against oxidative stress.

Ergothioneine has been shown to be beneficial for lowering the risks of certain types of cancers. However, adding any type of mushrooms to your daily diet will lower the risks of developing these cancers.

  1. Lower sodium intake

Adding mushrooms to your diet may help lower your salt consumption. Mushrooms contain potassium, which helps regulate water levels in the body. Potassium also lowers your risk for hypertension (high BP).

White buttons mushrooms are naturally low in salt. They provide savory flavor that helps reduce the amount of salt needed when making a dish. A study at the University of California, Davis showed that replacing half of the meat with mushrooms could help reduce salt intake without sacrificing taste.

  1. Promote lower cholesterol

Shiitake (or maitake) mushroom consumption has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity, decrease LDL (“bad”) cholesterols, and improve HDL (“good”) cholesterols.

  1. Protect brain health

Scientists continue to study the effects that mushroom consumption has on people who suffer from mild cognitive impairments. These impairments cause memory and language difficulties. They’re often precursors to Alzheimer’s disease.

Eating at least two cups of mushrooms per week was associated with a 50 percent reduced risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Those who eat only one cup of mushrooms see some benefits too.

  1. Provide a source of vitamin D

If you want to get enough vitamin D from your food, mushrooms might be the way to go. Mushrooms are the only kind of produce that contains vitamin D.

Certain mushrooms exposed to UV light can boost their levels of vitamins D. Portabellas and creminis are among those mushrooms that produce the highest amounts of the nutrient after being exposed to ultraviolet rays or sunshine. To achieve the recommended daily allowance, simply chop three mushrooms (or one large portabella) and expose them to the sun for about fifteen minutes. Alternatively, eat a serving of maitakes, which provides the same effect.

  1. Stimulate a healthier gut

To keep your digestive system healthy, one way to do so is by stimulating the growth of good bacteria in your digestive tract with the use of preĀ­biotics, such as mushroom supplements.

Research has shown that mushroom polysaccharide extracts promote the growth of healthy gut microbes. When taken orally, these compounds pass through the stomach intact and reach the large intestine where they help to support beneficial bacteria.

  1. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables

Mushrooms are full of macronutrients that help keep your immune system strong. According to the MushroomCouncil, these macronutrients are:

  • Selenium,which helps your body make antioxidant enzymes to prevent cell damage. Choose cremini or portabella mushrooms for the most benefit.
  • Vitamin D,which assists with cell growth, boosts immune function and reduces inflammation. Maitake mushrooms offer an easy way to add vitamin D to your diet.
  • Vitamin B6, which plays an important role in forming red blood cells, protein and DNA, is found in shiitake mushroom.

If you want to be sure you’re consuming the best foods for your overall health, contact your doctor.