Eastern cultures have been aware of mushroom-health-benefits for thousands of years. Western cultures have been slow to accept medicinal mushrooms as a viable natural option to prevent or aid in the cure of disease. Mushroom-health-benefits don’t cure disease but provide a powerful stimulus to the immune system. Mushrooms are a food and not a drug.
Mushrooms are fungi and there are over 1,500,000 species of fungi on Earth. Of this number up to 22,000 are thought to be mushrooms. Some 700 species are eaten as food. About fifty species are known to be poisonous. It is important that every mushroom intended for eating be accurately identified.
Mushroom-health-benefits exist in all dietary mushrooms. Common dietary mushrooms such as the button mushroom and the oyster mushroom are healthy foods. A culinary favorite is the portobello such as the baby portobello mushrooms shown here. All of these are a source of B vitamins and contain small amounts of essential amino acids. They are also free of cholesterol.
The common commercially grown mushroom is more than 90 percent water, less than 3 percent protein, less than 5 percent carbohydrate, less than 1 percent fat, and about 1 percent mineral salts and vitamins. The health impact of dietary mushrooms is “minor league” compared to the healing power of the so called medicinal mushrooms.
Medicinal mushrooms have the ability to modulate the immune system and have curative properties. They contain beta-glucans that act to normalize the immune system and organ function. These beta-glucans stimulate an immune response boosting the body’s existing defense system to prevent and fight disease. Each medicinal mushroom contains a unique beta-glucan.
The mycelium (root system) of the mushroom is often used in making mushroom supplements because it is richer in important nutrients than the mushroom fruit-body. There are also good supplements on the market that take advantage of the synergistic effect of combining extracts from three or more of these medicinal mushrooms.
The top five healing mushrooms are thought to be the maitake, reishi, shiitake, agaricus blazei (ABM), and the cordyceps sinensis. All of these mushrooms are edible but the reishi is bitter to the taste. It is sometimes used as a tea like beverage.
While medicinal mushrooms are a food they can lower blood pressure and blood sugar, which is good unless you already have low blood pressure and/or are hypoglycemic.
You should always discuss all supplements with your physician before taking them. Nutritional supplements do not cure or prevent illness and disease. They only give the body the extra nutrition it needs to take care of itself! A healthy lifestyle starts with good nutrition.
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