I couldn’t wait for the fall and winter mushroom season when my grandfather would forage through the forests of Lesvos Island looking for mushrooms for my grandmother; she loved them, and so do I. She would lightly flour them and pan-fry them to perfection. However, not all mushrooms are edible, and many times she wouldn’t let me eat them for that reason.
Mushrooms are a kind of fungi and not all mushrooms are edible. Some can make you sick or even kill you if you ingest them. However, there are more than six hundred edible varieties of mushrooms in the world. Some of the more popular varieties of edible mushrooms include button, portobello, cremini, oyster, and porcini.
Of course, some people cannot stand the taste of mushrooms. If you happen to like mushrooms or can at least tolerate them, you are lucky. Including mushrooms as a regular part of your diet can do a lot to boost your general health:
A Low-Calorie Source of Protein
Many vegans rely heavily on mushrooms as a source of protein. If you are trying to reduce the amount of meat in your diet for health reasons, mushrooms can make a very tasty alternative. Mushrooms do not contain as much protein as meat. However, they still contain a significant amount of protein, are low in fat, and have quite a meaty taste. Additionally, mushrooms are filling. Thus, a diet that includes plenty of mushrooms can help anyone wishing to manage their weight or maintain a healthy BMI.
Mushrooms are a major source of antioxidants, including ergothioneine and glutathione. These antioxidants can help slow down the aging process. They may also help to protect the health of your liver, heart, eyes, and brain. If you want to stay youthful-looking and protect the health of some of your major organs, it is a great idea to eat mushrooms regularly.
Eating just a couple of servings of mushrooms per week can help to prevent cognitive decline. This is because ergothioneine and glutathione protect the brain against the damage done by oxidative stress. Thus, regularly eating mushrooms may boost your memory. You can also eat them to help protect yourself against or help improve serious cognitive conditions such as Alzheimer’s.
Immune System Health
Adding mushrooms to your diet is a clever idea if you want to maintain a healthy immune system. Mushrooms contain plenty of selenium. Selenium is another powerful antioxidant that helps to prevent cell damage and disease. It is also thought to bolster the immune system. The more selenium you have in your bloodstream, the stronger your immune response will be when you are exposed to a pathogen.
What makes mushrooms heart healthy? Mushrooms are packed with antioxidants, vitamin D, anti-inflammatory compounds, and other bioactive chemicals. Because of their significant nutritional value, mushrooms can help reduce the hardening of the arteries, hypertension, and high cholesterol. Thus, eating lots of mushrooms can help to protect you against heart disease and stroke.
Strong Bones and Muscles
Some mushrooms contain loads of vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for healthy bones and muscles. Mushrooms also contain copper and zinc. Both minerals are vital to healthy bone production. Eat plenty of mushrooms to maintain healthy bones. Stuff yourself with them if you suffer from a bone-related illness such as osteoporosis.
Mushrooms have a probiotic property because they contain β and α-glucans, chitin, hemicellulose, xylans, mannans, and galectins. These probiotic carbohydrates stimulate the growth of healthy microbiota in the gut, leading to better digestion and overall health. Mushrooms are also a reliable source of fiber. Thus, eating mushrooms can help to keep your bowels regular.
Do you often find you lack energy and feel fatigued? If so, consider eating more mushrooms. Mushrooms inhibit the production of lactic acid in the blood. They also increase glycogen storage in the muscles and liver. You are likely to notice restored energy levels if you eat mushrooms at least twice a week.
Mushrooms are a smart food choice for anyone concerned about or suffering from cancer. Eating mushrooms can improve cancer survival odds and reduce the severity of side effects associated with chemotherapy. Reishi mushrooms are considered particularly beneficial both in inhibiting tumor growth and protecting against certain types of cancer. Reishi mushrooms are too bitter to eat. For that reason, they are best consumed in the form of a hot tea beverage.
Mushrooms are rich in phenolic compounds, polysaccharides, fatty acids, carotenoids, and other antioxidants. The anti-oxidants in mushrooms also give them an anti-inflammatory effect. Thus, mushrooms are a great food for exercise recovery. They can also help to treat certain health conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease.
Do you want to eat more mushrooms for their anti-inflammatory effects? If so, the best varieties to consume are reishi, shitake, and cremini. Remember that reishi mushrooms should be consumed as hot tea. Do not make the mistake of cooking them, as their flavor is unpalatable.
Use A Wide Variety of Mushrooms
Though they are all from the same family, each type of mushroom has distinct nutritional qualities. For example, portobello mushrooms are packed with B vitamins, whereas oyster mushrooms contain higher levels of beta-glucans, which have anti-inflammatory properties. Hence, it is prudent to eat a wide variety of mushrooms to maximize the health benefits associated with consuming them.
How Many Mushrooms Can You Eat?
It would be difficult to eat so many edible mushrooms that you poisoned yourself. For instance, you would need to consume ninety cups of portobello mushrooms for the vitamin B6 they contain to cause nerve toxicity.
It is safe to eat mushrooms daily. Aim to eat at least one hundred grams of mushrooms each day to enjoy the maximum health benefits they provide.
Another wonderful thing about mushrooms is that they are extremely versatile. I rely on them as my go-to side dish on Keto, especially with steak, roast beef, and roasted chicken. You can add mushrooms to many dishes including stir-fries, homemade veggie burgers, salads, omelets, Keto pizza, pasta sauces, curries, soups, and stews like my Greek Chicken Coq Au Vin recipe. If you fancy a decadent treat, you can even make divine garlic butter mushrooms. You can put mushrooms in most savory meals to add flavor and nutritional value.
Hopefully, what you have read inspires you to get cooking and include more mushrooms in your Greek Keto diet. That way, you can enjoy the nutritional benefits that mushrooms offer, have fun getting creative in the kitchen, and delight in the great meals that you cook for yourself and your loved ones. Try my Cream of Mushroom soup using a variety of mushrooms.