Mushroom nutrition doesn't get a lot of airtime and people even tend to think of mushrooms as an afterthought. Most people probably even think that mushrooms are empty calories without much benefit, but that's so far from the truth.
Not only are they packed with vitamins and minerals, but they are proven to actually ward off serious health problems like cancer and diabetes, and mushroom nutrition helps people to lose weight and keep it off. Plus, there are so many different types of mushrooms with a rich, intricate flavors and textures.
One of my dreams in life is to go mushroom hunting out in a quiet forest. I know that sounds wacky, but the idea of collecting pounds of morels or -dare I say it... - truffles is just too tempting for words. One day I'll do it.
[Side note: keep in mind that you shouldn't eat wild mushrooms until you know for 100% fact that you've properly identified them. Only a select few varieties are edible and many of the rest are actually poisonous. There are even poisonous mushrooms that look almost exactly like the edible versions and only a seasoned mushroom hunter can tell the difference. So, if you have the same dreams of lining your stomach with hand-picked mushrooms, make sure you go with an expert.]
We often classify mushrooms along with vegetables, but they're actually fungi. Just like vegetables though, mushrooms are high in fiber, low in calories and fat, and made with absolutely no cholesterol. Eating them helps to lower your cholesterol levels, lose weight, and boosts your immune system.
If we had to single out one nutrient in mushrooms, it would be selenium. The easiest way to get the selenium is through eating animals, so things like mushrooms and Brazil nuts give you a vegan boost of the mineral. Selenium helps to rid your body of free radicals and has been proven to help prevent prostate cancer.
Another important part of mushroom nutrition is that they are the only vegetable source of vitamin D. During those cold, dark winter days, a handful of mushrooms a day can help you maintain your vitamin D levels and keep your energy up.
Mushrooms also have great calcium, iron, and copper, but a great standout in mushroom nutrition is the potassium level. Most of us equate potassium with bananas, but mushrooms actually have more potassium than a banana or glass of OJ.
Eating mushrooms, along with some of the other main players in the GOMBS diet can actually boost your immunity so much that you can ward off serious illnesses like diabetes, breast cancer, and prostate cancer.
Mushrooms play a big role in the GOMBS diet, Dr. Joel Fuhrman's anti-cancer diet that asks us to pay special attention to:
Beans and Berries
Seeds and Nuts
Dark leafy greens (kale, collards, bok choy) and cruciferous greens (broccoli, spinach) are some of the healthiest foods on the planet, and one of the reasons is because they prevent plaque from sticking to the walls of your arteries, keeping things moving and prevent heart disease. Onions, beans, and berries are packed with antioxidants that help push free radicals out of your body. Seeds and nuts reduce our cholesterol levels (which is ironic because most people think nuts=fat=you get fat. Not so.) and work like an assistant to absorbing more nutrients in our bodies.
Mushrooms help to balance your hormones and lower toxic estrogens in the body and they prevent tumors from growing, helping to lower your risk for developing cancer. The great part is that studies show that all you need is about 10 grams of mushrooms each day to reduce your risk of cancer. Do you know how much 10 grams is? It's one mushroom!
What's even cooler is that if you eat the mushrooms with the greens, there's an even greater reduction in the risk of developing cancer- an 89% reduction over people who don't eat mushrooms. I'd definitely recommend reading Eat for Health if you have a history of or are dealing with cancer.
There are so many different types of mushrooms, each with intricate layers of flavor and interesting textures, but they can often be quite expensive. The good news is you get the same benefits of mushroom nutrition when you eat even the most common button mushrooms. White mushrooms have been proven to help reduce your chances of developing breast and/or prostate cancer.
You can easily add mushrooms to your everyday diet by either eating them raw, grilling them, or sauteeing them. You get extra points if you can add the GOMBS together into one dish. Perhaps some sauteed onions with mushrooms, black beans, kale, and topped with walnut pieces? Add some berries for dessert and you win the GOMBS lottery.
Everything I love to eat in the kitchen I always at least contemplate growing in my garden. Mushrooms hasn't escaped my imagination. You can actually order mushrooms spores from local growers and learn to grow your own mushrooms. Most of the time that involves using an old, rotting log and implanting the spores onto the log to allow them to grow.
You could also look into this fun mushroom kit from Back to the Roots that you can order from Amazon. I got it one year from my secret Santa and had so much fun growing the oyster mushrooms. You usually get about two harvests from each box, one on either side. It would be a fun project to do with kids. Amazon has other grow-it-yourself kits, but this is the only one I've tried.