Recently there has been an exceptional increase in research regarding mushrooms and their influence on our health.
Mushrooms are in fact not a plant and actually belong the biological group known as fungi.
This many of us know. But what you may not know is that mushrooms have their own immune system, and they’re more closely related in DNA to humans than to plants!! Due to their own separate biological kingdom, it’s not shocking that mushrooms have unique physiological actions in health.
So far many animal studies are showing extremely promising results. Eating white button mushrooms improves the function of Natural Killer (NK) Cells and other immune responses (in mice studies). Other studies have also shown mushroom extracts to decrease inflammation, rectify dysbiosis (overgrowth of harmful gut bacteria), fight infection, and even boost our natural cancer fighting immune responses.
Human studies have also been equally as exciting. Mushrooms have been shown to increase our production of salivary Immunoglobulin A (IgA) in healthy humans. This is important because IgA is an antibody that plays a critical role in immune function.
Due to the findings showing mushrooms therapeutic effects of mushrooms as an enhancement of natural immunity, researchers are now looking into the use of mushroom extracts in cancer research.
Mushrooms stole the spotlight recently in cancer research when multiple international studies linked women who eat mushrooms to a 50-60% lower risk of breast cancer compared to those with no mushrooms in their diet. An Australian study showed that women who ate only 10g of mushrooms each day had a 65% lower risk of breast cancer – that’s only half a button mushroom!
Although it’s not clear exactly how mushrooms lower the risk of breast cancer, it’s believed that compounds they contain suppress the enzyme called aromatase, which has been shown to increase the proliferation of breast cancer. This enzyme converts the hormone androgen into estrogen, which promotes breast cancer development, especially in postmenopausal women.
This funny word is the reason we love mushrooms, it is their rich savoury flavour that comes mainly from their natural free glutamates. Glutamate is an amino acid, and we have glutamate receptors in our stomach and intestines. There is new research that showsthese receptors may be helping to control hunger and help us avoid overeating. Eating foods high in glutamate gives us a sense of “healthy satisfaction” and will therefore make us less likely to over eat.
Not only are mushrooms low in kilojoules, they also help to reduce our total food consumption by manipulating our appetite. In controlled studies measuring satiety in meals where meat was replaced with mushrooms, participants reported feeling much fuller and more satisfied with the mushroom meals, even though it had 100 fewer calories than its meat alternative. In total those eating the mushroom dishes ate a total of 379 fewer calories each day over four days.
A follow-on study showed that those who regularly ate mushrooms had a significant reduction in their waist measurements. In this study a portion of each dinnertime meal was replaced with mushrooms. After a year the mushroom consumers lost an average of 7cm around their waist – that’s about three belt holes! And in contrast, the control group had a wider waist circumference. Mushrooms eaters also on average had about 120 fewer daily calories, which backs up results shown in the first study.
The form of fibre that is found in mushrooms is mostly chitins and glucans. It is looking as if glucans in mushrooms may act in a similar way to statins to lower cholesterol. Research has shown mushrooms inhibiting the same enzyme that is targeted by this common medication. Other research is also suggesting that glucans in mushrooms help to lower both blood cholesterol and blood glucose. Talk about an excellent example of ‘food as medicine’!
Research on the ability of mushrooms to reduce disease risk is looking very promising, specifically breast cancer risk, lowering blood lipids & blood sugar, and making meals more satisfying and decreasing likelihood of overeating.
This high protein nutrient dense veggie really is a super food!
Immunity Boosting: Studies show that mushrooms enhance our natural immunity response. They are also one of the highest antioxidant foods on the market.
Cancer Protective: Mushrooms contain compounds (glucans) that are linked to lowering the risk of a range of cancers, specifically breast cancer) Eating only one button mushroom daily can half your risk of developing breast cancer. Due to promising new research, scientists are putting a big focus on mushroom extracts to further examine their anti-cancer abilities.
Low GI: So they help to keep blood sugar nice and stable.
High in Vitamin D: Mushrooms that have been exposed to sunlight therefore generate this vitamin in the same process that we do when we spend time in the sun. Only one serving of mushrooms gives you all of your daily vitamin D requirements.
Blood Pressure Regulating: Due to its high potassium and low sodium content.
Perfect for Weight Control: Low in kilojoules & contain very little carbohydrates. Research also shows mushrooms help appetite control by filling you up quicker and encouraging you to eat less during the day.
Cholesterol Lowering: Umami, a fibre present in mushrooms can lower cholesterol in a similar way to statin medications.