I tend to think of most superfoods as being dark green, bright red, orange or yellow, but this particular superfood is actually comes in a dull white, tan or brown color.
Mushrooms deserve “Superfood” status for lots of reasons—many scientists are just in the beginning stages of discovering some of the many amazing things they can do.
While particular varieties have abilities unique to their own type, mushrooms in general contain over twenty vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, along with some potent fat burning, immune-enhancing and cancer-fighting phyto-chemicals.
In Asia, the Chinese and Japanese have been using different types of mushrooms as powerful medicine for the last 3,000 years. And mushrooms were used by the Pharaohs in Egypt, the Greek warriors, the Romans, the Aztecs and the Mayans.
The two most common mushrooms that we use, the white ‘button’ mushroom and the ‘Crimini’ or brown mushroom contain a particular chemical that inhibits excess estrogen production.
In women, excess estrogen is responsible for easy weight gain (esp in hips, thighs and stomach), loss of interest in sex, and can lead to a susceptibility to certain estrogen related cancers like breast and ovarian cancer.
In men, excess estrogen causes weight gain, loss of sex drive and ambition, and the dreaded “manboobs”, along with certain cancers.
Excess estrogen is very dangerous to health, and a major factor not only in weight gain, but also in cancer and tumor development.
The “aromatase inhibitors” in mushrooms also help men reverse age-related decline in testosterone, and help them convert free testosterone into the more potent androgenic hormone, DHT, which aids in building lean muscle and fat burning.
This also benefits women in a similar fashion, in that it helps build lean, muscular bodies. (No ladies, do not worry, you will NOT grow hair on your chest and turn into big burly men.)You will just get leaner, svelte, and firm.
Testosterone is definitely boosts libido for both men AND women.
Other more exotic mushrooms, including the maitake, shiitake, enokitake and oyster mushrooms, contain powerful medicine-like qualities that stimulate the immune system to effectively help it fight off bacteria, viruses, and even cancer.
You can easily build up your immune system simply by eating a variety of mushrooms.
Mushrooms also help those with allergies and calm allergic reactions as well.
Mushrooms are highly effective athletic performance booster as well as helping with muscle growth and recovery post workout.
In studies done on thoroughbred race horses, Cordyceps mushrooms boosted running speed, and also acted as a calming agent, increasing alert focus and attention. These benefits translate to human athletes as well, helping both speed and concentration.
While you can get some of the benefits of mushrooms by taking an expensive supplement, it’s more beneficial to eat them as a whole food.
Sauté some along with some chopped, fresh garlic in grass fed butter, seasoned with sea salt and black pepper. Or throw them in whenever you are cooking eggs, vegetables, soup or stews. The subtle, earthy flavor enhances the flavor of many recipes.
Mushrooms also provide copper–an important mineral for energy metabolism–B vitamins, and selenium.
If you like to eat your mushrooms raw, make sure they are organically grown, since they absorb toxins from the air and soil.
And unless you are an expert I don’t recommend going out in the woods and hunting for them yourself. There are too many varieties of mushrooms that are highly toxic or deadly. Your local farmers’ market is a good source of mushrooms in the spring and fall.
Till next time, Stay Healthy and Lean!
Catherine (Cat) Ebeling RN BSN, is a back to basics diet and nutrition specialist. In addition to her advanced degree in nursing from a major medical school, she has spent the last 30 years intensely studying diet, health and nutrition. She also has a book titled “The Fat Burning Kitchen, Your 24 Hour Diet Transformation” that has sold over 60,000 copies worldwide, and has helped thousands of people transform their lives, lose weight and improve their health.
Her mission is to help others prevent disease and live their best life ever.
Nutrition made Easy. Simple.Smart.Nutrition.
Charles Bankhead, Mushrooms Play a Role in Breast Cancer Prevention and Treatment, WebMD Medical News, December, 1999
Joseph Mercola, The “Antioxidant Superstar” Chinese People Eat Daily, November 2011. Mercola.com
Charles Mateljon, Crimini Mushrooms, World’s Healthiest Foods, WHfoods.org.