Potential Benefits of Medicinal Mushrooms
Mushrooms are often subject to mixed opinions. On the one hand, mushrooms have enjoyed the nutritional spotlight for the last few years thanks to their active compounds, rich nutrition, good taste, and wide applications.
On the other hand, many people feel uneasy toward medicinal mushrooms and feel hesitant to eat them.
Regardless of how you see mushrooms, you should read on. Today, we’ll break down the potential benefits of medicinal mushrooms and what that means for you.
What Are The Different Medicinal Kinds of Mushrooms?
As you’re probably aware, there are plenty of mushroom varieties out there. But perhaps the seven most prominent are:
- Cordyceps, which supposedly aids energy levels, ATP production, and muscle recovery (1, 2)
- Shiitake, which supposedly improves cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure and improving circulation (3)
- Lion’s mane, which serves as a nootropic agent that enhances concentration, memory, and cognition (4)
- Chaga, which can reduce inflammation and can slow down aging (5)
- Reishi, which supposedly brings relaxation, reduces anxiety, and aids with sleep (6, 7)
- Turkey tail, which offers antioxidants, can strengthen our immunity and has cancer-fighting properties (8, 9)
- Maitake, which has less scientific backing but also shows promise for blood glucose control and immune system health (10, 11)
What Nutrients do Medicinal Mushrooms Offer?
- B vitamins
- Vitamin C
- Small amounts of vitamin D
- Ergothioneine – an amino acid, which is mainly found in fungi
These nutrients alone are incredibly beneficial for us. For example, vitamin C is essential for our immunity, and vitamin D plays essential hormonal and bone-related functions (14, 15). But, interestingly, it doesn’t end there.
While having these nutrients offers benefits to us, the primary functions of medicinal mushrooms relate to other bioactive compounds. Specifically:
- Triterpenoids – a group of compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in the body. They might lower cholesterol levels, offer cancer-fighting properties, and keep the liver healthy (16).
- Beta-glucans – a group of polysaccharides (dietary fibers) found in the cell walls of certain fungi. These can aid digestion, promote cardiovascular health, and offer antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects (17).
- Ergosterol – a precursor to vitamin D2 that resides on the cell membrane of fungi. It supposedly has cancer-fighting properties and can work as an antioxidant in the body (18).
Three Unique Benefits of Including Medicinal Mushrooms To Your Diet
- Cancer Prevention and Lower Oxidative Stress
One of the most notable benefits of including medicinal mushrooms in your diet has to do with their cancer-fighting and antioxidant properties (5, 8, 9). Specifically, Chaga and Turkey Tail appear to be two fungi with profound effects in this area.
- Immune Support and Detoxification
Maintaining strong immunity and clearing the body of various toxins are two things that have significant long-term health implications. The good news is, consuming medicinal mushrooms can help with both. Most notably, this means consuming Shiitake, Chaga, Turkey Tail, and Maitake (3, 5, 8, 10).
- Reduction In Anxiety and Improvements In Cognitive Function
Beyond the physical benefits of medicinal mushrooms, we can also expect benefits related to the mind. Specifically, these mushrooms can sharpen our cognitive function, reduce anxiety, and allow us to sleep better.