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Fresh Living Network

10 ways to keep healthy with mushrooms

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Love your mushrooms? Well, your body does too! That's because there is a wealth of health benefits to eating them.

Ongoing international research around fresh cultivated mushrooms is increasingly showing that they are indispensable when it comes to looking after your health. Even better, they’re also readily available, very affordable and super-versatile.

Here’s what these little treasures can do for you…

1. Reduce the incidence of heart attacks

Excessive salt intake is associated with high blood pressure (or hypertension), which can damage the arteries and lead to heart disease, stroke, and other health problems. Fresh mushrooms are one of the best low-sodium food choices we can make as they contain only 14mg of sodium per 100g! When considering the fact that a low salt diet allows between 400-1000mg of sodium per day – their low sodium content is even more impressive!

2. Control your weight

A 2010 study by the South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association (SAMFA) confirmed fresh mushrooms as a formidable ally to aid weight loss. They have a high nutrient density compared to their kilojoule content (one cup of raw mushrooms contain less than 1kj) and provide essential nutrients without hugely increasing calorie intake. They also reduce the consumption of sodium, saturated fat or other compounds linked to poor health. 

3. Ally in the fight against breast cancer 

Around the globe, stretching from Australia to California, new breast cancer studies seem to confirm the dietary link: Mushrooms contain phytochemicals that are found to specifically suppress breast & prostate cancer making them important partners in the battle to win this fight. They also contain a fatty acid, conjugated linoleic acid, that has the ability to inhibit two enzymes called aromatase and 5-alpha-reductase that are involved in these cancers. 

4. Prevent prostate cancer 

Selenium has a cancer-fighting action especially when it comes to warding off prostate cancer. Mushrooms contain selenium in quantities much higher than any other plant food. Research indicates that an increased intake of selenium decreases the incident of prostate cancer by up to 60%. One serving of portabellini (100gm) provides almost a third of the daily reccommended intake for selenium. White button mushrooms are also rich in the nutrient.

5. Slow down ageing 

Freshly cultivated mushrooms contain important anti-ageing antioxidants such as ergothioneine that fight free radicals. Wheat germ has always been considered an essential source for antioxidants, but mushrooms contain 12 times more! And when compared to those expensive creams, mushrooms, being readily available and affordable, may be a better long-term anti-ageing investment!

6. Fight flu 

Vitamin D increases our ability to fight infections by increasing the production of antimicrobial peptides that can destroy viruses, bacteria and fungi. Mushrooms are the only vegetable that naturally contain vitamin D with 100g of white button mushrooms delivering 4% of the daily requirement.  

7. High in vitamins and minerals 

Mushrooms are also packed with B vitamins: thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6) and folate (especially important during the early stages of pregnancy). They also contain essential minerals potassium, selenium, phosphorous and copper as well as small, but nutritionally important, amounts of iron. 

8. Lower blood pressure 

Recommended lifestyle changes to control your blood pressure include attaining and keeping a healthy weight, cutting back on salt and eating more foods rich in potassium. 

Fresh mushrooms are high in potassium. In fact, most people may be surprised to learn that while orange juice is touted as one of the highest potassium foods, one medium portabella mushroom or five white button mushrooms have more potassium than an orange!

9. Increase red blood cell production 

Mushrooms provide a significant amount of copper - one of the essential minerals that help our body produce red blood cells. A cup of stir-fried white button mushrooms provides 0.3mg of copper, which is about a third of the recommended daily intake for adults. 

10. The king of umami

While many ingredients have umami, there is one that stands alone as the king of umami: fresh mushrooms! Mushrooms not only deliver plenty of umami on their own, they actually intensify the umami of the other ingredients, an effect called “synergy”. This means that by adding mushrooms to just about any savoury dish, the flavours of everything else in the dish will be enhanced! 

So there you have it! Fresh mushrooms are the ultimate trump card – delicious and good for you. Now all you have to do is make sure that you throw a handful into every dish you serve!

Here are a few recipes to help bring mushrooms into your diet.

*Courtesy of Riana Greenblo Communications

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