Did you know there are over 140,000 mushroom species in the world? Scientists are only familiar with about 10%, leaving much wonder about what the other 90% are all about. The most nutritious and known mushrooms are cordyceps, reishi, maitake and shiitake; they provide amazing health benefits. You can also find these mushrooms in a supplement store in the immune support or cardiovascular health section. Most mushrooms contain high sources of fiber, protein, iron, zinc, selenium, vitamin D, and B vitamins. The nutrients keep our heart strong, which supports a healthy blood pressure and balanced cholesterol. Mushrooms also supply the nutrients needed for optimal hormone function and production. This can mean keeping unwanted weight off and less painful PMS and menopause symptoms. Lastly, all mushrooms are celebrated for their abilities to fight cancer cells. By now, I hope you are as excited learning about these “magical” mushrooms as I am! These are the ABC’s about the health benefits from the greatest mushrooms you can buy and how to eat them.
A. Maitake: This mushroom is a type of adaptogen, which means it helps your body to restore its balance during physical or mental difficulties. Adaptogens are excellent at keeping your immune system strong and preventing illness. Some recent studies suggest that a component of maitake potentially prevents and treats breast cancer by killing cancer cells and tumors. Since most mushrooms are mild in flavor, they can easily be added to your meals such as stir fry, salad, pasta, pizza, omelets, or soup. Cook maitake mushrooms into your next bone broth soup for an absolutely top-of-the-line health food meal. This will support nearly every organ in your body, assisting you in increasing your life span. You may sauté the mushrooms to make them more tender or just let them cook down in the broth.
B. Reishi: Again, we have here another incredible food for fighting and preventing cancer. What is really remarkable is this mushrooms ability to not only destroy cancer cells, but keep the rest of your cells healthy and strong. This prevents secondary infections that often strike when a women’s immune system is already weakened. One of the best and safest ways to consume reishi is in the form of tea. There are a number of tea products on the market now that you may try, including a mushroom hot cacao mix…yum!
C. Shiitake: This mushroom is a little more commonly found in your local food market. Shiitake contains a high amount of B vitamins that are needed for optimal nerve function. Nerve damage may lead to things such as tingling and numbness in the hands and feet. In addition, B vitamins support healthy adrenals which boost energy and provide sharper memory and focus. The stem of the shiitake mushroom is harder and stringier than the softer cap; cut off the stem and slice the cap into thin strips. These strips can be sautéed and scattered over top of a green leafy, spicy arugula salad. Instead of throwing the stems away, store them in the freezer to add to soup stocks and bone broths; they still provide a lot of nutritional value and flavor.
When storing fresh mushrooms, keep them in a brown bag in the freezer. This will significantly increase their shelf life. If you have an autoimmune disease or have a family history, talk to your doctor about adding mushrooms to your diet since they may overreact the immune system. It is not uncommon for a woman to be allergic to mushrooms, so exercise caution when trying them for the first time; only try a small serving.