Did you know that mushrooms have a multitude of health benefits? There is an entire world of fungi that many people don’t know much about. Of course there are poisonous mushrooms and hallucinogenic mushrooms, but there are also a lot of mushrooms that have numerous health benefits to humans that won’t kill you or send you down the rabbit hole of an Alice in Wonderland-esque trip. Today we will explore six mushrooms whose medicinal power you should know about.
Reishi is known as the mushroom of immortality. It has immune modulating effects, antiviral properties, and can help control blood sugar levels. Reishi is also good for allergies, as it down-regulates histamine and has anti-inflammatory properties. It can even help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well! In Traditional Chinese Medicine, reishi is said to bring balance to the energy systems of the body. Many people absolutely feel a sense of calm when they regularly take reishi, as it can help lower anxiety. While you can cook reishi mushrooms, they aren’t a very popular mushroom to cook with. Many people prepare reishi as a tea or consume it in supplemental form as a tincture or in capsules.
Shiitake is another mushroom that can help balance cholesterol levels. It also improves circulation, boosts the immune system, and has antiviral and antibacterial effects. You can utilize shiitake in the kitchen in a variety of ways. Shiitake mushrooms are great in an omelet, soups, or simply sautéed with mixed veggies.
Chaga is a mushroom that has a balancing effect on the nervous system, GI tract, cardiovascular system, and the endocrine system. It helps purify the blood and supports the liver. Chaga also fights inflammation and assists in lowering cholesterol levels that are too high. Like reishi, most people consume chaga as a tea or taken as a supplement.
Turkey Tail mushroom is great for improving gut bacterial balance because it contains a polysaccharide that acts as a prebiotic, which is essentially fuel for your good gut bacteria. Turkey tail also has a lot of benefits to the immune system because the compounds these mushrooms contain have the ability to regenerate white blood cells and stimulate the activity and creation of T-cells, macrophages, and natural killer (NK) cells. Some people choose to cook with turkey tail mushrooms and others just take it as a supplement.
Like many mushrooms, lion’s mane contains antioxidants that are beneficial to the immune system. But lion’s mane stands out in regards to its benefits for cognitive function. It fosters the production of a bioprotein nerve growth factor (NFG) and myelin, which insulates nerve fibers. This makes it beneficial to brain health. Because of this, lion’s mane can help improve cognition, memory, and focus. You can cook with lion’s mane or take it in supplemental form to utilize it’s cognitive benefits.
Oyster mushrooms are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and other minerals. They can benefit heart health and are useful for blood sugar regulation. Also, like all of the other mushrooms listed above, oyster mushrooms support the immune system in beneficial ways. Oyster mushrooms specifically have been shown to improve the symptoms of recurrent respiratory tract infections. Oyster mushrooms are commonly cooked with and are very versatile in the kitchen. You can cook and add them to pasta dishes, add them to sauces and gravy, use them in egg dishes, or simply sauté or roast them as a side dish.