I’m seeing and hearing people talking about mushrooms everywhere these days.
Mushrooms are certainly having a moment!
For the fourth year in a row, mushrooms have been listed as a top trend in the food industry. The New York Times officially named mushrooms “the ingredient of the year ” for 2022.
Although often considered a vegetable, mushrooms are actually fungi. They’re found naturally, foraged in moist forests, or grown under special conditions to keep up with consumer demand.
Packed with flavor, nutrients, completely vegan and good for the planet and human body, mushrooms are a true superfood.
More chefs are experimenting with different varieties in their dishes.
Several documentaries discuss the potential of using psychedelic mushrooms as a treatment for a range of mental health issues. It’s no wonder why mushrooms are front and center.
Between their various health benefits, easy sustainability, versatility in dishes and potential as an alternative treatment for mental health conditions, it’s time to explore the benefits of eating this savory fungus.
With so many varieties and textures, there are endless ways to add mushrooms into recipes. Or as a flavorful substitution for other ingredients.
Research reveals many health benefits of eating mushrooms.
It’s really no surprise they’ve become such a sought-after food. They contain a significant amount of ergothioneine, an amino acid and antioxidant that prevents or slows cellular damage.
A review of 17 cancer studies from 1966 to 2020 found that eating just two mushrooms a day can lower your risk of cancer by 45%.
Researchers are also looking at the impact eating mushrooms may have on mild cognitive impairment. Especially those presenting as memory and language difficulties, which is often an early symptom of Alzheimer’s disease.
In a study out of Singapore, participants who ate more than 2 cups of mushrooms per week had a 50% lower risk of developing mild cognitive impairment. Even those who only consumed one cup still saw benefits.
Mushrooms provide the only source of Vitamin D found in produce.
Vitamin D plays a major role in immune and bone health due to its role in helping the body absorb calcium.
While a sufficient amount of Vitamin D is essential for the human body, it’s one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the world.
Just like humans, mushrooms increase their vitamin D levels when exposed to sunlight or UV light. Consuming 3 sliced mushrooms, or one portabella, that have been left out in the sun for 15 minutes will give you the daily recommended amount of Vitamin D.
Wait, what? Now I’m going to start sun bathing my mushrooms before cooking.
Mushrooms are low in fat, calories and cholesterol.
Due to mushroom’s inherent meaty texture, they are great substitutes or additions to dishes that benefit from a savory element. They can easily add the umami taste that usually comes from meat or fermented foods.
Shiitakes in particular contain compounds that inhibit the production of cholesterol. They block cholesterol from being absorbed and lower the amount of cholesterol in the blood.
Mushrooms are also a source of prebiotics that are beneficial for the growth of good bacteria in your gut. And you know much I champion a healthy microbiome because it plays a major role in our health and mood.
Unlike many foods that break down with stomach acid and are rapidly absorbed in the small intestine, research shows that the most abundant carbohydrates in mushrooms pass through the stomach unchanged.
They’re not absorbed in the small intestine. They can reach the colon where they act as prebiotics, feeding our good bacteria.
Mushrooms rank high in sustainability.
A study by The Mushroom Council found that the production of a pound of mushrooms requires only 1.8 gallons of water and 1.0 kilowatt hours of energy. It generates only 0.7 pounds of CO2 equivalent emissions.
The annual average yield of mushrooms is 7.1 pounds per square foot. Up to 1 million pounds of mushrooms can be grown on just one acre of land. What’s more, they usually grow in beds of composted agricultural materials. Win-win, for sure.
In addition, mushrooms are always in season because they can be grown year-round. That makes them a highly accessible, sustainable, and a nutritious addition to anyone’s diet.
Overall, the versatility of mushrooms in shape and texture as well as their savory/umami flavor make them great additions to any meal.
Extensive research shows mushrooms can help improve mental health conditions.
With mental health conditions increasing worldwide, especially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an abundance of research done on alternative treatments for individuals whose conditions don’t respond to typical medications.
Psychedelic mushrooms, or mushrooms containing a chemical compound called psilocybin, show real potential as an alternative treatment for serious mental health conditions, including PTSD and depression. This mode of treatment is becoming more widely accepted by mental health professionals, patients, and government agencies.
Small clinical trials have found that one or two doses of psilocybin, given in a therapeutic setting, can make a drastic and long-lasting impact in people suffering from treatment resistant depression which does not respond well to antidepressants.
Psilocybin, which the brain converts into psilocin, has psychoactive properties which have shown promise in treating cluster headaches, anxiety, anorexia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and various forms of substance abuse.
Classic psychedelics, such as psilocybin and LSD, activate nerve cells in the brain. These are the same receptor that the brain’s own serotonin activates.
Psychedelics disrupt the typical organization of the brain.
This helps patients suffering from depression and anxiety to have more flexible thinking and control negative, fearful thoughts.
Matthew Johnson, a professor in psychedelics and consciousness at Johns Hopkins Medicine said, “They have a dramatic effect on the way brain systems synchronize or move and groove together. When someone’s on psilocybin, we see an overall increase in connectivity between areas of the brain that don’t normally communicate well.”
Johnson also said, “You also see the opposite of that – local networks in the brain that normally interact with each other quite suddenly communicate less.”
The future of psychedelics for treatment purposes is growing. More research is establishing greater confidence in their high safety profile which will allow for more rigorous double-blinded clinical trials in the future.
Mushrooms contain the same nutritional profile whether eaten raw or cooked.
When it comes to the humble mushroom, there are many interesting mushroom textures and flavors to try.
Consider choosing white buttons, creminis, portobellos, dense and meaty, shiitakes, savory, maitakes, earthy, o rbeech, oyster and lion’s mane when available.
Mushrooms taste good whether eaten raw, grilled, roasted, sautéed, stir-fried, or blended.
Blending is a technique of chopping or mincing fresh mushrooms to match the consistency of ground meat. Then you can blend them into the beef, poultry, seafood, or plant proteins you’re cooking with. You can use this technique to make burgers, taco meat, meatloaf, pasta sauce, chili, or anything you would traditionally cook with a ground protein.
Mushrooms’ umami flavor blends with other ingredients to make food more tasty, juicier, and even meatier. The blending technique can reduce both the total fat, calories, and sodium of your dishes if you’re looking to cut back.
Roasting or grilling mushrooms with high heat and a little fat or water develops savory caramelization, making them even more delicious and bringing more umami flavor to your dishes.
How long do mushrooms remain fresh?
Select mushrooms that are firm with a fresh, smooth appearance.
The surfaces of the mushroom should appear plump.
They should be dry but not dried out.
According to the Mushroom Council, a closed veil under the mushroom cap indicates a delicate flavor, while an open veil and exposed gills mean a richer flavor.
How to store mushrooms.
Store mushrooms in their original packaging or in a porous paper bag to keep them fresh for as long as possible.
Some mushrooms may keep for up to one week in the refrigerator.
If they start smelling ammonia-like or develop a moist, soggy surface, they’re past their prime and should be tossed.
Cooked mushrooms will keep in the freezer for up to one month. Raw mushrooms should not be frozen because freezing destroys the texture.
How to clean mushrooms.
Brush off any debris, like dirt, from mushrooms with your fingers or a damp paper towel. You can rinse mushrooms briefly under running water and pat dry with a paper towel.
Typically, the stem is fully edible. But, if the mushroom stem is tough, trim it before cooking. Always trim shiitakes stems before use.
You can remove the portobello’s gills if you prefer. However, they offer great flavor and ability to soak up sauces, dressings and marinades.
For more tips on how to wash mushrooms, including specific store-bought, cultivated, and wild-foraged varieties, click here.
Add mushrooms to your favorite recipes to nourish your microbiome.
You already know that nourishing your microbiome makes weight loss easier.
Let’s create a plan unique for you that does just that. It’s one of the most important steps you can take since the food you eat is a major factor in improving and strengthening your gut health, whatever it’s condition today.
So, please take me up on my offer for your FREE Strategy Call. Then you can see for yourself how it’s possible to jump start weight loss by intentionally training your focus on what matters most.
This exploration can help you reach your weight loss goals with a lot less stress and drama.
It’s totally possible to make 2022 your year to create the healthiest you. No matter your age, stage or past disappointments.
Jump start your fresh start. A year from now you will thank yourself you reached out to me today.
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