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Are Mushrooms Healthy? 10 Benefits + Risks

| Leestijd 8 Minuten

Are mushrooms healthy? Absolutely! Culinary and medicinal mushrooms offer a wealth of nutritional goodness. However, like any food, they might not suit everyone—some people may experience allergic reactions. In this article, we dive into 10 amazing health benefits of mushrooms, alongside potential risks to be aware of.

What is the difference between culinary and medicinal mushrooms?

turkey tail as an example of mushrooms that are healthy

Both culinary and medicinal mushrooms belong to fungi, the scientific name for mushrooms. The difference between culinary and medicinal mushrooms is mainly in their use and application.

For instance, culinary mushrooms are mainly used as food. They are grown for use in dishes. Medicinal mushrooms are used for their potential health benefits and therapeutic properties.

Culinary mushrooms: examples

Examples of culinary mushrooms include white mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, shiitake, Lion’s Mane, and portobello mushrooms. They can be used in soups, stews, stir-fry recipes, salads and sauces.

Medicinal mushrooms: examples

Examples of medicinal mushrooms include Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps, Reishi, Turkey Tail and Chaga. Lion’s Mane is both a culinary and a medicinal mushroom.

Medicinal mushrooms are renowned for their high amounts of polysaccharides, terpenoids, antioxidants, and other nutrients, all with potential benefits for health. They’re recognised for bolstering the immune system, alleviating inflammation, and enhancing cognitive functions.

Medicinal mushrooms today are often processed into supplements in the form of capsules, as you see them in our shop.

10 Health benefits of mushrooms

an athlete showing that mushrooms are healthy for the body

1. Mushrooms are a source of nutrients

Both culinary and medicinal mushrooms contain a variety of nutrients, including protein, fibre, vitamins, and minerals. This is why mushrooms can be so healthy.

Medicinal mushrooms, such as Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps, Turkey Tail, Chaga and Reishi, contain specific bioactive compounds associated with immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. These are processed into supplements using special extraction processes to increase the concentration of these bioactive compounds.

2. Mushrooms can boost immunity

Medicinal mushrooms, such as Chaga and Reishi, contain properties that can support and strengthen the immune system. Thus, they can help fight diseases and infections.

3. Mushrooms can help reduce stress

Some medicinal mushrooms, such as Reishi and Lion’s Mane, are considered adaptogens. This means they can make your body as well as your mind stronger against stress.

Medicinal mushrooms are also being researched for their anti-inflammatory properties, which could potentially be beneficial in reducing stress levels. Indeed, inflammation can play a role in stress and stress-related disorders.

4. Mushrooms can prevent cardiovascular disease

According to some studies, consuming mushrooms regularly can help lower bad LDL cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

5. Mushrooms can regulate blood sugar levels

Culinary and medicinal mushrooms may also be able to regulate blood sugar due to their effects on various aspects of metabolism and blood sugar balance.

For instance, certain nutrients in medicinal mushrooms, such as polysaccharides, could improve glucose metabolism by regulating glucose production and release in the liver.

6. Mushrooms can reduce inflammation

Mushrooms, including mushrooms, Reishi, Lion’s Mane and Chaga, contain compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties. This can help reduce inflammation in the body and lower the risk of chronic diseases.

7. Mushrooms can help you lose weight

Both culinary and medicinal mushrooms are healthy, low in calories and low in fat. However, they are rich in fibre, which can help maintain a healthy weight by providing a prolonged feeling of satiety.

8. Mushrooms can be good for your gut

The fiber and enzymes in mushrooms can support digestion and promote gut health. The medicinal mushroom Turkey Tail is particularly well known for this. This, in turn, can improve nutrient absorption and help prevent digestive problems.

9. Mushrooms can be good for your skin and hair

Mushrooms contain several nutrients, such as biotin and copper, which are essential for healthy skin, hair and nails. In Mongolia, people use shampoo containing the medicinal mushroom Chaga for a full head of hair. Research suggests that Chaga works even better than modern medicines for hair loss.

10. Mushrooms can boost your energy and focus

Thanks to their nutrients, mushrooms can contribute to an overall sense of well-being, energy and vitality, which promotes an active lifestyle. Cordyceps supplements are best known as mushroom supplements for increased energy.

Possible risk factors of mushrooms

an example of mushrooms that are not healthy

Are mushrooms healthy? Initially, we would answer a resounding “yes!” to that. But, as with everything, it depends on several factors: the kind of mushrooms you eat or take, whether you are allergic and whether you buy organically grown mushrooms. This applies to culinary mushrooms as well as medicinal mushrooms.

Here are some potential risks:

  • Toxic mushrooms. The biggest danger of mushrooms is the risk of poisoning by eating poisonous species, such as the fly agaric or the tuberous mushroom.
  • Allergic reactions. People can be allergic to certain types of mushrooms, which can lead to symptoms such as skin rashes, itching, swelling, breathing problems or anaphylaxis in severe allergic reactions.
  • Toxins and contaminants. Even edible mushrooms can contain toxins or contaminants if they grow in polluted areas or have been exposed to contaminants during cultivation, which can be harmful to health. This is why it is important to choose organic, tested mushroom supplements.
  • Digestive problems. Some people may experience digestive problems after eating mushrooms, such as stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea, especially if they consume hard-to-digest mushrooms or if they eat too much of them.
  • Drug interactions. Medicinal mushrooms may have interactions with medicines, so consult your doctor if you are taking medication.

Are mushrooms healthy?

To make sure your medicinal mushrooms are healthy for you, it’s important to only buy organic mushroom supplements from brands that work with rigorous controls, such as MushPeak.

We are the only mushroom webshop in Europe that has its supplements extensively tested by external third-party labs. You can find the lab results on our product pages. This way, you can be sure that you are buying premium quality mushroom supplements.

Discover our mushrooms!

Read more about medicinal mushrooms

Disclaimer

Supplements should not be used as a replacement for a diverse diet, a healthy lifestyle, or as a treatment for any medical condition. Keep this product out of the reach of children. If you are ill, pregnant, or in doubt, always consult with your healthcare provider. The information provided on this website is intended for general informational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. While traditional Chinese medicine has a history spanning thousands of years and has been tested on numerous individuals, MushPeak does not make claims indicating the proven medicinal properties of herbs or mushrooms, in accordance with current EU legislation. Detailed information about mushrooms is available from publicly accessible sources on the Internet. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

References

  1. Venturella G., Ferraro V., Cirlincione F., & Gargano M.L. (2021). Medicinal Mushrooms: Bioactive Compounds, Uses, and Clinical Trials. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 22(2):634. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22020634
  2. Spelman K., Sutherland, E., & Bagade, A. (2017). Neurological Activity of Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus). Journal of Restorative Medicine. 6(1). https://doi.org/10.14200/jrm.2017.6.0108
  3. Lee C.T., Huang K.S., Shaw J.F., Chen J.R., Kuo W.S., Shen G., Grumezescu A.M., Holban A.M., Wang Y.T., Wang J.S., Hsiang Y.P., Lin Y.M., Hsu H.H., & Yang C.H. (2020). Trends in the Immunomodulatory Effects of Cordyceps militaris: Total Extracts, Polysaccharides and Cordycepin. Front. Pharmacol. 11:575704. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2020.575704
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