5 Cool Ways Mushrooms Help Boost Human Health

Mushrooms Are Medicine! 5 Incredible Ways This Superfood Boosts Human Health

Are mushrooms a go-to in your kitchen? Extremely versatile, flavourful, and an excellent meat substitute, it’s no wonder they’re a culinary staple. What makes them even more appealing is that they pack a massive nutritional punch and are vital to keeping our bodies healthy and functioning correctly. Mushrooms are medicine! The health benefits seem endless, but we’ve narrowed the list significantly for space. Enjoy our list of 5 Cool Ways Mushrooms Help Boost Human Health.  

Adding Mushrooms To Your Meals Will Lead To These 5 Health Benefits

Vitamin D Superpowers

Did you know that mushrooms are the only food in the produce aisle containing vitamin D? This essential vitamin is typically produced by the sun and keeps us strong by helping our bones absorb calcium. Unfortunately, most of us don’t get enough vitamin D; our daily intake is far below the recommended amount. The Mushroom Council explains that mushrooms are unique from other foods because they can naturally increase their vitamin D levels through exposure to sunlight. As a result, mushroom farmers let UV light hit their crops during the growing process to increase vitamin D production. Varieties like crimini and portabella have higher levels of the plant sterol ergosterol, which converts to vitamin D when exposed to light. For example, a raw crimini mushroom grown under some light has 128% of the daily recommended value of vitamin D. We’re still huge proponents of getting vitamin D from the great outdoors, but why not get a little more by adding some mushrooms to your stir-fry, too?

mushrooms contain vitamins

Immune Boosting

There is no shortage of mushroom tinctures and capsules available at your local health food store, which you can use for daily immune support. Seriously, you’ll need some time to go through it all! These tinctures and capsules often contain five to seven different species of mushrooms, ranging from chaga, lion’s mane, and cordyceps to reishi, turkey tail, and more. Don’t feel like taking a tincture or capsule every day? Good nutrition plays a vital role in building our immune systems, and you can reap all the same benefits by enjoying mushrooms in your meals. Mushrooms are an excellent addition to your dinner plate because they’re low in calories and sodium and are free of fat, cholesterol, and gluten. They contain vitamin B6, copper, zinc, selenium, beta-glucans, and more, protecting the body from infection against bacteria and free radicals. Incorporating these delicious gems into your weekly meal plan will help keep you healthy through the seasons and more than satisfied at dinner time.

mushrooms boost immune health

Boost Gut Health

Dieticians are all about gut health, and for good reason. A healthy gut breaks down our foods and absorbs the nutrients so the body functions properly, improving overall health and mood. There are many ways to maintain gut health, and experts say eating mushrooms stimulates the growth of healthy bacteria in our bodies. According to UCLA Health, polysaccharides are the most abundant carbohydrate in mushrooms and pass through the stomach unchanged. As a result, they reach the colon and encourage healthy bacteria growth there. Mushrooms are high in fibre and contain prebiotics essential to a properly functioning gut. Reishi, chaga, coriolus, maitake, and lion’s mane mushrooms are excellent options to get the job done.

mushrooms boost gut health

Better Brains

We all have a lot on our minds, from obligations to family and friends to job performance, exercising, maintaining a home, and everything in between. Mushrooms can help clear the fog and keep our brains in working order. UCLA Health points to a study in Singapore that found that people who ate two cups of mushrooms a week were 50% less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment (MCI). MCI is considered an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease and causes issues with memory and language. Researchers offered study participants a wide range of mushrooms, including golden, oyster, shiitake, and white buttons. But when it comes to brain health, the lion’s mane mushroom is a shining star. With roots in Chinese medicine, this mushroom has potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties, increasing blood flow to the brain. As a result, lion’s mane mushrooms help improve focus and clarity and can help grow and repair damaged nerves. Preliminary studies show they might even prevent depression and anxiety.

boost brain power

Cancer Prevention

Regularly including mushrooms in your diet may help prevent your risk of developing cancer. Research by Pennsylvania State University finds that people who eat just two medium-sized mushrooms a day, or about ⅛ of a cup, have a 45% lower risk of cancer compared to those who don’t eat them. The paper was published in Advances in Nutrition and looked at cancer studies from 1966 to 2020. The driving force behind this theory is that mushrooms contain ergothioneine, an amino acid and antioxidant that helps protect the body’s cells from damage. Shiitake, oyster, maitake, and king oyster mushrooms have the highest levels of ergothioneine. The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) says the study by Penn State is exciting but that further research is needed to determine whether mushrooms help reduce the risk of all cancers or just some, in addition to proper dosage, mushroom type, and whether or not eating them raw or cooked makes a difference. In any case, the WCRF says the research proves that nutrition (or lack thereof) has an impact on our risk of developing certain forms of cancer.

mushrooms help prevent cancer


The Mushroom Council (mushroomcouncil.com)

7 Health Benefits of Mushrooms (uclahealth.org)

The Best Mushrooms for Gut Health (guthealthydietician.com)

5 Incredible Benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushrooms (foragehyperfoods.com)

World Cancer Research Fund – Should we eat mushrooms to prevent cancer? (wcrf-uk.org)

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Catherine Sherriffs

Editor at Garden Culture Magazine

Catherine is a Canadian award-winning journalist who worked as a reporter and news anchor in Montreal’s radio and television scene for 10 years. A graduate of Concordia University, she left the hustle and bustle of the business after starting a family. Now, she’s the editor and a writer for Garden Culture Magazine while also enjoying being a mom to her three young kids. Her interests include great food, gardening, fitness, animals, and anything outdoors.