Mushrooms on the Brain
Although mushrooms being a “fungus” may turn some people off, this adaptogenic superfood is loaded with nutritional value. They are low in calories + are the only item in the produce aisle that contain vitamin D. There are more than 2,000 species of edible mushrooms + even the most common consumed species have medicinal properties! They pack a boost of brain power, immune support, gut-healing, ++ many other benefits. Here’s our go-to guide on all things mushrooms:
NUTRITIONAL VALUE //
- Vitamin D: Sunshine is the only natural way to absorb Vitamin D + we spend a lot [probably too much] of time indoors. Unless you eat fortified milk or a lot of fish, it’s pretty difficult to get this essential vitamin in your diet.
- Fiber: Mushrooms contain about a gram of beta-glucan per cup. This specific type of fiber is beneficial for managing blood sugar + cholesterol.
- Antioxidants: All mushrooms are high in antioxidants.
- Low calorie: A cup of mushrooms has only 20 calories!!
- Supports brain health by stimulating your brain’s neurons to regrow + stay sharp with cognitive functions like short-term memory + visual recognition. A NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine study found that consuming 2+ servings of mushrooms per week can reduce the risk of mild cognitive impairment [the stage right before dementia], which means eating your mushrooms now could help your golden age self down the road stay bright + sharp!
- Antioxidants + anti-inflammatory properties. Ergothioneine, the main component found in certain mushrooms that provides potent anti-inflammatory qualities is also responsible for overall enhancing our antixoidant systems.
- Strengthen immune system + boost stamina, ++ even *prime* your cells to fight off possible future infections. By dilating the main artery that supplies oxygenated blood to your entire circulatory system, blood flow is increased up to 40% + therefore enhancing endurance.
- Balances everything out, including hormones, blood sugar levels, + our gut-health. Mushrooms support healthy tissues // hormones for a balanced flow, + are even thought to protect against breast cancer! They increase insulin production helping prevent or control diseases like diabetes. By nourishing the liver + supporting detoxification, mushrooms also improve overall digestion!
Have you ever heard of the fifth element of our taste buds? Sure, there’s sweet, salty, bitter + sour, but mushrooms give us a unique savory ++ earthy taste called umami when cooked. Our favorite way to eat these superfoods is sauteing them in olive oil + garlic. Most produce aisles supply a plethora of mushroom types. The recommended portion size is a third of a cup [about half a dinner plate] ++ at least two servings weekly to reap the benefits.
There are naturally occurring glutamates in shiitake mushrooms, so many Vietnamese cooks use vegan mushroom seasoning [mushroom powder//essence, salt, vitamin B + calcium] as a flavor enhancer + to increase the umami in a dish. Vegetarian Việt Nam by Stauch features a wonderful mushroom powder recipe you can make right at home. By grinding up 1 ounce of dried shiitake mushrooms [first break off the stems + save those in the freezer for future vegetable stock recipes], you have a solid base. Then add salt + whatever other spices you need, ++ add ½ to 1 teaspoon of the powder to boost the richness//earthiness of any dish. Here are some cooking ideas:
- Pasta sauces, risottos, + soups
- Stir-fried greens
- Popcorn seasoning [add seaweed powder + chili flakes to your powder for this one, trust us ; )]
- Marinades [especially soy sauce marinades with garlic, rosemary, + parsley]
- Salad dressings [pairs well in sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, + ginger dressings]
- Dusted on top of roasting root veggies//squashes
- Lion’s Mane: This one has a long history in Chinese medicine. It contains up to 20% protein, specifically a small protein known as the *nerve growth factor* that is necessary for growth, maintenance, + survival for our brain’s neurons! It can be enjoyed as a gourmet dish, or you can obtain these benefits by trying a Lion’s Mane supplement.
- Porcini: Often found in risottos//soups, these Italian goodies possess antioxidant properties + contain ergosterol to help make Vitamin D3. They’re also an awesome source of potassium to keep the brain, heart, + muscles functioning at their best.
- Portobello: These yummy mushrooms also contain selenium + are packed with Vitamin B, which helps break down carbs + boosts energy production. They’re often used as a veggie burger + steak substitute.
- Shiitake: Commonly used in Asian cuisines, these guys are a good source of soluble fiber + contain beta-glucans//lentinan as well to strengthen the immune system.
- White Bottom: These are commonly found in salad bars // supermarkets [aka *crimini mushrooms*], ++ contain a mineral called selenium that is important for cognitive function + a healthy immune system.
Whether you saute mushrooms with other veggies, fold them into an omelette, or dice + mix them in with homemade burgers, the options are endless to sneak more of these earthy ++ savory goodies into your diet. You can even try popular mushroom beverages like mushroom coffee, tea, + hot chocolate!
Let us know in the comments what your favorite dish to add mushrooms in is! : )