With an earthy taste ranging from mild to pungent, and the strangest appearance of any food you’ll find at your local supermarket, mushrooms are easily overlooked as a superfood. They are, however, incredibly good for you. More people today, from health-conscious consumers to professional health food researchers, are turning their attention to the potential power of medicinal mushrooms.
Why are organic mushrooms so beneficial?
Mushrooms are in a class of their own – literally. Neither fruit nor vegetables, the fantastic fungi grow on forest floors, in caves, and even in backyards in some areas of Australia. Over the centuries, fungi have developed complex defence systems to shield themselves from predators, the environment, and disease. As a result, they also contain compounds that may help to boost the human body’s defence mechanisms.
Whilst there are many different varieties of mushrooms, in general, this type of food is a good source of B vitamins, vitamin D, and important minerals like zinc, potassium, and selenium. All types of mushrooms also contain important compounds like beta-glucans, which are known to fight inflammation and to support the immune system, and they are rich in antioxidants. Some organic mushrooms have even more beneficial compounds than others, which is why many types of mushrooms are considered to be some of the best superfoods you can add to your diet, such as maitake mushrooms and reishi mushrooms.
Here’s a look at some of the major organic mushroom benefits
Boosting immune health
One of the most important benefits of mushrooms is their ability to strengthen the immune system. With a strong immune system, you’re less likely to get sick, and when you do, your body will be able to recover faster. As we age and as the body deals with stress, the immune system can become weak, which is why eating foods that can boost immune health is so important.
Mushrooms contain compounds that specialise in immune enhancement like lentinan, a polysaccharide found in shiitake mushrooms that has been shown to have antitumor properties and to extend life in cancer patients. Reishi mushrooms have been shown to increase the body’s production of natural killer cells – the cells that hone in on and destroy cancers and viral infections.
Better brain health
There’s a reason medicinal mushrooms are associated with longevity and healthy ageing – some types of fungi have proven their worth as brain boosters in medical studies. Lion’s mane, in particular, is connected with cognitive well-being. One study in Japan involving elderly men and women linked lion’s mane with improved cognitive function. Research has revealed that this type of mushroom contains a compound which activates a small protein called the ‘nerve growth factor’, or NGF. The body uses NGF to grow and maintain neurons in the brain!
Mushrooms are an excellent food for improving the health of your gut. As a prebiotic, they help to support the good bacteria in your gut. Mushrooms are also known to balance the microbiome, which can improve digestion.
Concentrated source of antioxidants
One of the best ways to promote overall health is to eat a diet that’s high in antioxidants. This means consuming lots of fruits and vegetables, and fungi. Mushrooms like reishi, maitake, porcini, shiitake, oyster, and lion’s mane are loaded with cell-protective antioxidants. These compounds can help the body deal with oxidative stress, which can then have a cascade of positive effects on total wellness. The antioxidants in organic mushrooms may help to slow aging and protect the body from chronic illness.
One type of fungi in particular – cordyceps – is known to help with stamina and athletic performance. This mushroom has been shown in studies to increase exercise performance in elderly test subjects. Containing adenosine, it may help to boost endurance and reduce fatigue from exercise, making it attractive to long-distance runners and other athletes.
What about growing organic mushrooms?
You can grow your own organic mushrooms. WIth a few basic gardening tools and a little space, it's possible to grow varieties like Portobello and oyster mushrooms in your home indoor or outdoor garden. If you don’t have much of a green thumb, look for dried and fresh mushrooms at your local market. Mushrooms add a unique flavour profile to soups and casseroles. Because of their rich taste, you can even use mushrooms as a healthy meat substitute in pasta dishes, sandwiches and stews.
Adding organic mushrooms to your diet
You don’t have to eat portabella mushroom burgers and shiitake mushroom pasta day in and day out to enjoy the health benefits of this superfood. In powder, capsule, or tincture form, you can get all the incredible benefits without having to add mushrooms to your meals.
- Use medicinal mushroom powder in your healthy smoothies
- Drink mushroom coffee as a healthy, caffeine-free alternative to coffee and tea
- Supplement with capsules of organic mushrooms
When sourcing your mushrooms, be sure to choose only organic mushrooms from a quality provider. Because of all the studies pointing to the benefits of adding medicinal mushrooms to your diet, there are a lot of suppliers of mushroom products. Not all of them offer the same standard of quality. To make sure you’re getting the highest amount of nutritional benefits, choose an Australian-based provider and shop local for fresh organic mushrooms.
At Superfoods Australia, we offer a variety of 100% organic mushroom extract powders. Choose the variety you want or opt for a blend of super mushrooms. When it comes to this unique superfood, there are so many ways to benefit!