Mushrooms… How Good Are They?

Mushrooms – Those little one legged plants are getting some attention on the digital by-ways recently on YOU-TUBE , TED Talks and even on NPR radio.

I am so excited after listening  reading about the extensive research being done on these phenomenal health saving plants that I want to share my excitement with you.

Recently, I listened to Paul Stamets,  a well known mycologist, speak at National College of Natural Medicine and since have become inspired by his intense love for this species of plant – fungi.  It turns out that they are extremely helpful in the environment as they act like the liver which acts as a biochemical filter. This means mushrooms can take a toxic substance and convert it to a non toxic chemical – just like the liver does.  He calls them “soil magicians” for the wondrous ways they work environmentally.

What is even more important is the way mushrooms can help the body heal. They provide immune support in the body and have shown their power in healing cancer. Stamets also states that they are known for their strong antibiotic and anti-viral effect.

Mushroom researcher and cultivator Jeff Chilton talks about polysaccharides found in mushrooms: “These compounds have been the primary focus of research due to their ability to inhibit tumors in laboratory test animals. Mushroom polysaccharides act by enhancing host defenses rather than directly killing tumor cells. For this reason they are called host defense potentiators (HDP).

A very specific variety called “shiitake” is one to highlight  I consume this particular species  regularly in my diet.  Here are a few facts for you:

  1. Shiitakes have four to ten times the flavor of common white button mushrooms.
  2.  In addition to their robust flavor  shiitakes provide high levels of protein (18%), potassium, niacin and B vitamins, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.
  3. They have natural antiviral and immunity-boosting properties and are used nutritionally to fight viruses.
  4. They  lower cholesterol and regulate blood pressure.
  5. Lentinan,  an immunostimulant  contained in shiitakes, has been used to treat cancer, AIDS, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibrocystic breast disease.
  6.  Researchers S. Suzuki and Oshima found that a raw shiitake eaten daily for one week lowered serum cholesterol by 12%.

This plant is the truest examples of Hippocrates statement:  “let food be your medicine and let medicine be your food” .   Be proactive and preventative by including mushrooms at least 3-4 times a week in your diet. Using shiitake mushrooms in salads, sautéed with veggies or scrambled eggs are some easy ways to improve your immune system – the guardian of health.

Listen to NPR interview on medicinal mushrooms:



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