What is your first association when you hear the word “mushroom”? Oftentimes, the perception of mushrooms is linked to something hidden, mysterious, magic, uncertain and also scary (disease related) ~ this perception being rooted in various folk tales and cultural traditions.
Did you know that mushrooms are neither plants nor animals? They have their own kingdom called the Fungi kingdom and they are truly special beings that have been inhabiting this planet way before humanity. There is a lot we do not know about the fungi ~ it is estimated there are 2 to 4 mln species of mushrooms on the planet, out of which only 4% have been documented and researched to date!
Some other curiosities you may not know about fungi:
the oldest and widest organism on Earth is a fungus in the Blue Mountains of Oregon
they are crucial recyclers of the environment, being able to break down matter including plastic and petroleum products
they are a powerhouse of fiber, protein, fatty acids, vitamins, nutrients and essential minerals
they can be incredibly medicinal and healing
Most people probably have enjoyed some button mushrooms on a pizza or shiitake in a stir-fry, and despite the familiarity of these mushrooms, many of you may not be aware of their properties and health benefits.
For instance, some oysters mushrooms contain up to 30% protein and shiitake contain up to 35% dietary fiber which can help maintain an optimal gut microbial balance. Also shiitake mushrooms can help prevent cancer, offer immune support, fight viral and bacterial infections, help with cardiovascular support and cholesterol reduction, and balance liver health.
Isn’t this fascinating?
And there are so many more gifts that different kinds of mushrooms are offering us. Mushrooms’ healing properties range from immunity boosting to brain cell protection and nervous system regeneration to supporting and balancing all bodily functions.
As Hippocrates put it “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” ~ considering mushrooms as both food and medicine, I encourage you to incorporate them more into your diet through cooking, also consume them in the form of extract powder, tea or tincture whenever possible to absorb more bioavailable compounds.