By Elena Sheppard
Let’s talk about mushrooms, not “magic” mushrooms, or “special” mushrooms, just good old fashioned put them on your hamburger, or in your salad, or on the grill, mushrooms. Mushrooms are packed with health benefits and are easy to incorporate into just about any meal (breakfast omelettes, anyone?). Let’s discuss.
So why exactly are mushrooms so good for us? Let’s break it down. First of all, mushrooms are a great source of vitamin D and are one of the only fruits or vegetables (to be fair, mushrooms are actually fungi) to contain this highly necessary vitamin. Just like us humans, mushrooms produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. As a result, mushrooms can provide important amounts of vitamin D to the human diet.
There is also evidence that mushrooms help to boost the immune system. Shiitake mushrooms, Reishi mushrooms, and Maitake mushrooms are all known to have health advantages. Shiitake mushrooms in particular are great for regulating gut health; in addition to helping out the general immune system, Reishi mushrooms have also been found to combat cancerous tumors; meanwhile, Maitake mushrooms are used to combat a variety of ailments.
Other mushroom super powers? They help promote skin and nervous system health. They’re also rich in potassium and selenium — a mineral known for its antioxidant properties and known for helping to prevent bladder cancer — as well as vitamin B which helps support a healthy metabolism. In fact, the type of B12 found in mushrooms is the same as what is found in meat, making mushrooms a great meat substitute for all the vegetarians out there. With so many health benefits, some are even taking to calling mushrooms the “hidden superfood.”
As for where to get the very best mushrooms, shopping at the grocery store or farmer’s market is always an option, but growing your own mushrooms isn’t so hard either, as long as you stick to all the necessary health guidelines. All that mushrooms really require to flourish is a cool dark spot to grow (under a sink or in a basement works). Mushrooms grow from spores, not seeds, and while that may make it sound like things are a bit more complicated, they really aren’t especially if you take on your homegrown mushroom project with a kit. Back to the Roots has our very own mushroom growing kit, in case you want to start home harvesting this “hidden superfood.”
Whatever your mushroom persuasion, know the health odds are in your favor. Chowing down on some mushrooms is straight up good for you. The hallucinogenic kinds…well that’s not for us to say!