Diana Nelson

Discover The Wonderful World of Mushrooms: The Hidden Gems of The Forest Floor

Mushrooms are extremely popular for a reason. Various species each with its own flavour and an incredible number of health benefits.


Mushrooms have the ability of living organisms to divide themselves along gender lines: there are male and female mushrooms. Their DNA somehow resembles the human chromosome set. Fungi even have a concept of sexual maturity, when they are capable of giving birth together. However, only certain species of mushrooms are capable of having a ‘family life’.

Mushrooms – Nutrition facts

Mushrooms have the ability of living organisms to divide themselves along gender lines: there are male and female mushrooms. Their DNA somehow resembles the human chromosome set. Fungi even have a concept of sexual maturity, when they are capable of giving birth together. However, only certain species of mushrooms are capable of having a ‘family life’.


Mushrooms – Good news

Mushrooms are widely known for their great taste and amazing health benefits. Packed with a ton of essential vitamins and minerals, they can be an excellent addition to your diet that will spice up your dishes with their flavour.

1Decrease the risk of cancer

review of 17 cancer studies from 1966 to 2020 shows that eating just 18 grams of mushrooms (equal to about a 1/8 cup or two medium mushrooms) a day may lower your risk of cancer by as much as 45%. Mushrooms are a powerful source of ergothioneine, amino acid and antioxidant that prevents or slow cellular damage.

2Boost energy

B vitamins are essential for us to maintain energy. In particular, porcini (white) and oyster mushrooms contain a lot of vitamins B2 and B5. Mushrooms are also rich in copper, which is important for maintaining energy balance in the body.

3Protect brain health

Researchers continue to study the effects of eating mushrooms on mild cognitive impairment (MCI). This impairment causes memory and language difficulties and is often a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease.

In a study in Singapore, participants who ate more than two cups of mushrooms a week had a 50% lower risk of developing MCI. Even those who ate only one cup noticed some benefits. The mushrooms eaten by participants included golden, oyster, shiitake and white button mushrooms.

4Improve gut health

The microbiome in your gut is home to organisms and bacteria that play a large role in your health and mood. Using prebiotics, such as mushrooms, can promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut.

Research shows that mushroom polysaccharides, their most abundant carbohydrate, stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria. While many foods are broken down by stomach acid, the polysaccharides found in mushrooms pass through the stomach unchanged and can reach the colon to encourage bacteria growth there.

5Provide a valuable source of vitamin D

Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium to maintain and build strong bones. Many people rely on supplements or sunshine to get vitamin D, but if you’re willing to get this nutrient through your diet, mushrooms may be the answer. They are the only type of product that is a source of vitamin D.

Like humans, certain mushrooms exposed to UV light or sunlight can increase their vitamin D amounts. White button, portabello and cremini mushrooms provide the most vitamin D after exposure to UV light or sunlight. To get the recommended daily amount of vitamin D through mushrooms, you can slice three mushrooms (or one portabella) and leave them in sunlight for at least 15 minutes before eating them. Consuming a little more than one cup of maitake mushrooms will also provide enough vitamin D to meet your daily needs without sun exposure.

6Can control your weight

Mushrooms have high nutritional value and virtually no calories. This is ideal if you want to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. With few calories, you get plenty of nutrients and feel full for a long time.

7Serve as a great meat alternative

If you need to replace animal proteins with vegetable proteins in your diet, then mushrooms can be a great alternative to meat.

Protein from fresh mushrooms or roasted or cooked mushrooms is 70% absorbed. The maximum concentration of protein is found in dried products, 88% of protein can be absorbed from dried mushrooms. Powdered dried mushrooms are the most digestible source of vegetable protein. You can get a valuable concentrated protein from a mushroom by drying, and crushing the caps.

8Help to fight infections

Mushrooms have the capacity to make our immunity stronger by multiplying antibodies that fight infections.

In the study, the participants were divided into two groups. The first group followed their usual diet, while the second group added a cup of white mushrooms to their daily meals. After just one week, the group that ate mushrooms experienced a 50% increase in immunoglobulin A (IgA), a type of antibody protein that plays a key role in the immune system. IgA helps the body defend against illness and infection. These results suggest that adding mushrooms to your diet may help boost your immune system and protect against illness.

Mushrooms – Bad news

The risk of experiencing side effects from mushrooms depends on the type and the place where you get them from. In general, mushrooms that you can find at your local grocery store are safe to eat. However, it is not recommended to pick wild mushrooms unless you are an expert in identifying edible mushrooms, as there are thousands of varieties of mushrooms, and some of them can be poisonous.

Be careful – not all the mushrooms are edible

It is not easy for non-specialists to distinguish between wild mushrooms that can and cannot be eaten. Eating wild mushrooms can lead to serious illness and even death. Be aware of this fact when picking up mushrooms on your own. Use Google Lens not to mess up with the type of species, this app will help you to choose safe mushrooms with one click.

Avoid mushrooms if you suffer from autoimmune diseases

As the beta-glucans, present in mushrooms, stimulate immune function, people with autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, lupus, asthma and multiple sclerosis should avoid eating them.

Keep your distance if you have digestive problems

You should not eat mushrooms at all if you have pancreatitis, or if you have pancreatic gland problems or enzyme deficiencies. Because mushrooms require enough enzymes to be digested and processed normally.

Fun & curious facts about mushrooms

  • An immortality mushroom grows in China. The Chinese call it Reishi and they use it in infusions or liqueurs. The life-prolonging effects of this product are not scientifically proven, but from a marketing perspective, it appears to work.

  • One of the most famous mushrooms, the lingzhi mushroom, is traditionally used to prolong longevity in Chinese health practices.

  • Some species of mushrooms can form symbiotic relationships with plants and trees, helping them with growth and obtaining nutrients.

  • Mushrooms play an important role in the ecosystem by breaking down organic matter and returning nutrients to the soil.

Mushrooms in the Blue Zones

Mushrooms, in particular, shiitake mushrooms are very popular in Okinawa. What makes shiitake mushrooms so special? They contain more than 100 different compounds with immune-protecting properties. One of these compounds is eritadenine, which has also been shown to help lower cholesterol. Additionally, shiitake mushrooms contain RNA (Ribonucleic acid is one of the three basic macromolecules found in the cells of all living organisms), which benefits the immune system and has antiviral effects. It also helps with skin issues because RNA is essential for cells to replicate themselves.

Types of mushrooms sold in regular shops

The most common mushroom types found in grocery stores are:

1. Shiitake: shiitake mushrooms are one of the most popular mushrooms worldwide. They are loved for their rich, savoury taste and diverse health benefits;

2. Portobello: provides a number of essential nutrients but doesn’t contain many calories, making them a nutritious addition to any diet;

3. Crimini: these mushrooms are rich in antioxidants, fibre, and potassium. They even have some protein;

4. Button or White mushrooms: are rich in vitamin C and selenium. Both of these nutrients have properties that help to strengthen the immune system;

5. Oyster: these mushrooms are a popular type of mushroom linked to several health benefits. They are highly nutritious, may promote heart, and immune system health as well as encourage healthy blood sugar control;

6. Enoki: also known as winter mushrooms or golden needle mushrooms, enoki mushrooms are featured in many types of cuisines and are commonly cultivated in regions throughout North America, Europe, and Asia;

7. Beech: beech mushroom provides a great source of B vitamins, as well as potassium, zinc, and copper. They are low in calories and fat and are high in dietary fibre and protein;

8. Maitake: rich in vitamin D, it helps with everything from cancer treatment to bone health.

Mushrooms. Experiment by our expert

We introduce one of our Healthypedia personal testers. Michael Freeman is a big health enthusiast, in a great shape in his 50, and metabolically healthy! Michael uses a monitor which measures reaction of his body on food, exercises, stress, you name it. Here is his feedback and result.
Mushrooms. Experiment by our expert Nutrition
Blood glucose

Technically it’s not a pure mushrooms test because I used olive oil to fry them lightly. Sorry. But a teaspoon of oil doesn’t change the outcome in any significant way. 9 out of 10 for mushrooms is the result I expected. Low carbs and high water content don’t raise blood glucose and can even decrease it. Mushrooms are on my weekly grocery shopping list as MUST.

Healthypedia - Michael Freeman
Michael Freeman Health and Longevity Enthusiast, 50

Mushroom cost-efficiency in Great Britain

Organic chestnut mushrooms in a 250g pack will cost you £1.80. And 1kg of these mushrooms will cost £7.20.

But 40g dried porcini mushrooms will cost you £3.35. And 100g of them will cost you £8.38.

Let’s sum mushrooms up

Mushrooms are a product that not only can diversify your diet but also enrich it with unique nutrients and biologically active substances. By including them in your diet you will receive savoury meals brimming with a bunch of health benefits. They are perfect energy boosters, gut health stimulators and even vitamin D sources. But make sure you are getting them in a grocery store or in a place where they are harvested safely.

Not enough? Here are some more from our colleagues!

In this video, Dr Eric Berg will explain and show why mushrooms are so beneficial for health and can act as medicines. Dr Berg specializes in Healthy Ketosis and Intermittent Fasting. He is the director of Dr Berg’s Nutritionals and a best-selling author.

Healthypedia FAQ

Eating mushrooms say twice a week would be great. An ideal option is to make a warm salad with mushrooms.

When choosing your mushrooms, make sure they feel firm, aren’t moist when touching, and are mould-free.

To cook mushrooms to perfection, heat a pan over medium-high heat and add the mushrooms. As they cook, their liquid will slowly evaporate and they will caramelize. Be sure to keep an eye on the pan to prevent the mushrooms from burning. If the heat is too low, the mushrooms may cook in their own liquid rather than caramelizing. For the best results, it is important to find the right balance between high and low heat.

The secret to mushroom storage is that they stay fresh longer if you take them out of their container. Wrap them in paper towels placed in open plastic bags (paper bags are even better) and keep them in the fridge. They can be stored in a paper bag inside the fridge for about five days. Brush the dirt off and rinse them lightly when you’re ready to use them.

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