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Mushrooms - Surprising Facts for Overall Well-Being

Written by: John Henry | Sports and Active Lifestyles Writer

Mushrooms, although popular in certain forms, are usually seen as illicit, poisonous food or just fungus making the healthy properties found in them muddled in misinformation.


Portobello mushrooms are arguably one of the most popular forms of mushrooms in America. Used in many recipes normally, this mushroom provides flavor and a hearty addition that helps feeling full while not weighing that person down like carbs or a diet of red meat would produce.

Other than this type of mushroom, there are not many people who are informed on the other variations for those looking to expand their realm of health knowledge, diet and overall well-being. Knowing at least these variants of mushrooms will point them in the right direction.

One of the least commonly used mushrooms is called Lion’s Mane mushroom (hericium erinaceus). The properties of this mushroom range from reinforcing brain health and other physical ailments. Two compounds found in it called hericenones and erinacines are linked with the growth of brain cells/structural integrity of the brain and stronger memories. Both animal and human studies have confirmed this results also.

More benefits of this mushroom are its ability to help fight/manage diabetes and reduction in heart disease risk. Lion’s mane mushroom blocks enzymes called alpha-glucosidase which makes it easier to digest carbs in the lower-intestine. By blocking these enzymes, it lowers blood sugar, as high blood sugar is part of the cause of diabetes. For reducing heart disease risks, the mushroom has shown to lower and stop the oxidation of cholesterol that cakes itself on the inside of arteries and causes issues. A big side effect, however, is once the person stops taking the mushroom, all benefits stop. More studies on humans still need to be conducted on it to find the full range of effects and benefits.

Another mushroom that is beneficial for humans is called Porcini (boletus edulis.) This mushroom has been found to reduce inflammation and weight loss among other benefits. Porcini mushrooms contain properties that have shown to reduce inflammation related to arthritis and even asthma. It also contains protein and fiber that are good for weight loss, appetite control and certain hunger-oriented hormones.

More common mushrooms are not left out of the health benefit conversation either. White button mushrooms are another of the more popular fungus bought, but still offer surprisingly helpful benefits. White button mushrooms (agaricus bisporus) have properties that fight prostate and breast cancer by suppressing a compound called aromatase which leads to cancer and other cancerous cells with its antioxidant properties according to Portobello mushrooms have a lot of the same healthy benefits other mushrooms do also. Along with being used as a meat substitute for its fleshy and tender plant material, they are also high in L-ergothioneine (ergo) which is also high in antioxidants that have the potential to fight against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Mushrooms in Grocery Store

One scientist by the name of Paul Stamets who is a mycologist (fungal scientist) who advocates for the medicinal use of fungi, an author and entrepreneur is a source of information on these.

Along with selling his mushroom products and supplements, Stamets also makes videos of him finding different kinds of fungi and identifying them to the viewer. His website and research also has information that keeps his audience informed on the different fungi and properties they have. More Info Here

One issue of finding these mushrooms is the availability. Although grocery stores do sell some of these uncommon mushrooms, many of them are harder to find. Online shopping, though it may not be immediate, offers the best route to buy a lot of these. Websites like Oregon Mushrooms, Local Harvest and Pacific Rim Mushrooms offer fair prices for hard to find mushrooms and other ingredients.

For those who would rather go and buy mushrooms personally, and those living close to campus, almost all grocery stores have a variety of mushrooms. Though this variety may be limited, all mushrooms in the marketplace share a lot of the same properties and benefits. Another source is the Morgantown Farmers Market and other farmers markets would also be good places to find some common and uncommon mushrooms fresh.

Picking mushrooms is another way to obtain some of these. Some tips to be safe are to throw out or separate any that give doubts or are unknown, try to pick “capped” mushrooms, cross reference sources and do not skip any steps in identifying and cleaning.

Mushrooms are some of the most diverse and healthy foods that humans can buy readily available. Uncommon mushrooms offer a lot of disease and degenerative fighting properties, but the average person does not need to venture or look far to find fungi that will benefit their health.

About the Author

John Henry John Henry Thomas is a WVUGO staff writer that writes articles on adventure/sightseeing and student well-being. He is currently a sophomore at WVU going for his undergraduate degree in journalism with a minor in legal studies.

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