Beyond The Button

The world of mushrooms

The Amazing Benefits of Mushrooms

At least 2,006 edible mushrooms exist across 99 countries, many of which provide amazing benefits to the heart, body and mind. So, why is our focus limited to varieties like portobello and button? With a growing interest in fungi from new documentaries like Fantastic Fungi on Netflix and expanding farmers’ markets, many people are looking to venture into the wonderful world of mycology.

Mushrooms are more like humans than you think!

Did you know that fungi are more closely related to animals than plants, sharing roughly 85% of the same RNA and almost 50% of the same DNA as humans? You might also be surprised to learn that fungi are used in over 40% of pharmaceuticals available on the market today, including penicillin, immunosuppressants, and anti-cholesterol medications.

It’s no wonder that these nutritional and nutraceutical bits of nature are a powerhouse of health benefits! In fact, just 18 grams a day is enough to lower the risk of cancer by 45%!

And it doesn’t end there!

Just look at the amazing advantages of these varieties:

 

Lion’s Mane

Main Benefits: Healthy brain function, enhanced cognition, neuron regeneration, and protection against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

  • Lion’s Mane has been shown to improve memory, boost concentration and protect the nervous system
  • Its name comes from the mushroom resembling the cascading mane of a lion, though some varieties look like puffy pom-poms, and some say they even resemble a brain — which is totally appropriate, because… 
  • It has the ability to promote the growth and development of new brain cells, regenerate neurons in the body and protect existing brain cells! This makes Lion’s Mane a brain-boosting mushroom that’s great for cognition and memory.

Reishi

Main Benefits: Stress reduction, immune system support, and improved sleep.

  • Reishi is known in some areas as “the mushroom of immortality”. In Chinese culture, this mushroom is known as Ling Zhi and is depicted in many Chinese works of art.
  • Found in varying climates throughout the world (but mostly in tropical, sub-tropical and temperate climates that contain deciduous hardwood trees), Reishi still remains elusive. Only two or three out of 10,000 mature hardwood trees contain Reishi, though oak and maple are the most common.
  • Modern uses of Reishi include cardiovascular support, a healthy stress response, improved energy and stamina, overall wellness and immune health.
  • The Reishi fungi is known to stimulate nerve growth, promoting neuron communication in the brain. In fact studies have proven that Reishi mushrooms can help protect the brain against seizures.

     

    Cordyceps

     Main Benefits: Improved lung capacity and increased energy.

    • Surprisingly, Cordyceps is a parasitic fungi that grows on the larvae of insects. 
    • For centuries, the remains of the insect and fungi have been hand-collected, dried and utilized as Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat fatigue, sickness, kidney disease and low sex drive.
    • In multiple studies, a daily supplement of Cordyceps showed an increase in exercise performance in healthy adults. 
    • Cordyceps tea is a great way to reap the benefits of this remarkably therapeutic mushroom. You can also consume Cordyceps through fruit bodies in soups, as a tincture, in capsule form, or by eating them raw.

    Chaga

    Main Benefits: Rich in antioxidants for anti-aging, immune support, liver support, brain support, and contains anti-cancer properties.

    • Chaga looks like a chunk of charcoal or a clod of dirt clinging to a tree, but in fact, it’s a superfood that grows only on Birch trees in colder climates.  
    • A rather difficult mushroom to cultivate, almost all Chaga is foraged in the wild, by hand. 
    • Its health benefits include boosting the immune system and reducing inflammation. 
    • This mushroom is bitter to eat, and most people grind it into a fine powder and drink it as a tea. 
    • AND, if you’re a coffee lover, you’ll be happy to hear that flavor is very similar to coffee. I enjoy adding a little coconut creamer and natural sweetener for a healthy immune-boosting alternative to coffee.

     

    Maitake

    Main Benefits: Immune system activation.

    • Maitake are known as “The King of Mushrooms” and they are found growing at the base of oak, maple or elm trees. They can grow to be up to 100 pounds!
    • In Japanese, Maitake means “dancing mushroom” as their movement in a gentle breeze resembles coral dancing in the current. Their health benefits are so revered that Buddhist nuns and hunters danced for joy upon finding them in the wild. 
    • Studies show that maitake can fight the growth and reproduction of cancerous cells, especially breast cancer. It’s also touted for its ability to help support healthy blood sugar levels and the immune system.
    • The Maitake mushroom has an earthy, peppery flavor, making it great for creamy pasta dishes, or on top of a juicy steak.

    Pink Oyster Mushroom 

    Main Benefits: Nutrient and antioxidant-rich, heart-healthy, gut optimization, and anti-inflammatory with potential anti-tumor properties.

    • This mushroom wins the best looking mushroom award! Its gorgeous rose-pink hue is simply stunning! 
    • Oyster mushrooms are a great meat substitute in vegan cooking, due to their high protein content and meaty texture. 
    • It’s known to lower cholesterol, benefit the heart, and strengthen the immune system.
    • In addition to its health benefits – the mycelium, or root of the oyster mushroom, can break down toxins and contaminants like oil and man-made plastics! They are some of nature’s best decomposers!
    • This is one of the easiest mushrooms to grow at home on your kitchen countertop! You can find at-home grow kits online for less than $20.

    Pioppino

    Main Benefits: Anti-fungal, anti-cancer, disease and aging-protectant, known for its potential to slow down the negative effects of osteoporosis.

    • This mushroom is also known as Black Poplar due to its tendency to grow under or on the decaying stumps of Poplar trees.
    • A popular Asian and Southern European ingredient, Pioppinos are firm in texture, provides a mildly nutty flavor when cooked, and pairs great with rice, risotto, and meat dishes!
    • They’re rich in copper, fiber, and vitamin B5, and also contain potassium, biotin, folate, iron, selenium, vitamin B2 and B3. Additionally, they have anti-fungal and antibiotic properties.
    • When presented with the option choose pioppino mushrooms, as they offer more health benefits than button mushrooms.

    Chestnut

    Main Benefits: Immune support, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and great for cell and blood health.

    • This cute little mushroom has a shaggy, almost polka-dotted cap! 
    • Chestnut mushrooms have been found to be anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibiotic and anti-tumor.  
    • This is one of my favorite mushrooms to cook and eat! The texture is crunchy and the flavor is beautifully nutty and rich. 
    • Because this is a firmer mushroom, this is a great mushroom for a stir fry, or in an omelette.

    And you’re able to grow many of these in your own home!

    I’m excited to share my own mushroom-growing journey with you and show you some of the incredible ways you can use these delicious gourmet varieties in recipes that will boost your heart, body and mind!