Mushrooms are such a versatile food. They are an excellent ingredient on a pizza, are absolutely delicious sauteed and spread over a hot dog and scrumptious when tossed with a plate of aglio olio linguine (don’t forget the squeeze of lemon!). These babies can also absorb all the delicious flavours in a yummy stew.
Mushrooms are loved by vegans and vegetarians as they are frequently used in dishes as a meat substitute because of the texture and bulk they provide to a meal. Besides being a great tasting addition to our meals, mushrooms are also immensely nutritious.
The Nutritional Benefits of Mushrooms
The fungi are touted for their ability to strengthen a poor immune system and help a body fight against infections. If, however, your immune system is overactive, mushrooms can purportedly help calm things down by preventing or reducing allergic reactions or symptoms that are caused by autoimmune diseases.
Interestingly, mushrooms have for a long time been used for their medicinal properties in Asian cultures. For example, the Chinese, Japanese and Koreans have been known to use mushrooms to treat health issues that range from bronchitis and arthritis to certain cancers.
Mushrooms contain a multitude of essential vitamins and minerals: vitamin B (riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid) promotes healthy red blood cells, regulates hormone production and boosts skin health; beta-glucans (found in mushrooms such as oyster and shiitake) help to build a healthy immune system; selenium is an antioxidant that prevents and repairs damage to cells; and potassium supports the nervous system function and regulates blood pressure.
But did you know that mushrooms can also benefit us when it comes to our quest for better skin, hair and figure? Let’s check out the 10 beauty benefits that this awesome fungus can deliver.
An Acne Treatment
Rich in antioxidants and vitamin D, mushrooms can help to treat and heal acne. In fact, extracts of mushroom are frequently included in skincare that is designed to combat acne. The reishi mushroom, In particular, receives a lot of positive attention in the skincare arena. Known as an “elixir of immortality”, the mushroom’s high polysaccharide content gives it immense hydrating, healing and regenerating properties.
Supports Weight Loss
Mushrooms contain a good amount of protein, are filling and low in calories, which makes them a healthy and delicious inclusion to your meals (and an excellent substitute for meat) if you intend to lose some extra pounds. A grilled portobello mushroom burger, anybody?
Promotes Better Sleep
We all know the benefits of sleep. A full night of uninterrupted sleep can do wonders for one’s emotional and physical well-being. Your eyebags are gone, there’s colour in your cheeks and there’s a bounce in your step. There is little doubt that sleep helps you look good on the outside! As it turns out, mushrooms can give you a boost in that area too. In fact, the reishi mushroom has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to help promote better sleep.
Slows the Signs of Ageing
Thanks to the presence of kojic acid, certain mushrooms in the fungi family also have anti-ageing properties. In fact, from serums to creams to lotions, kojic acid is already popular as an ingredient in anti-ageing skincare products. The acid is said to help even out skin tones as well as treat and reduce the number of age spots and hyperpigmentation on your complexion.
Furthermore, the polysaccharides found in mushrooms also hydrate the skin and provide a nice plumping effect, reducing the appearance of fine lines.
If skin lightening is of particular interest to you, kojic acid has the added effect of cutting down skin’s melanin production. This natural alternative to chemical treatments actually has the effect of lightening new skin cells that are being generated.
Curbs Hair Loss
One common reason for hair loss is an iron deficiency. Mushrooms just happen to be a rich source of this essential mineral, which can help to strengthen hair follicles and hopefully reduce or prevent further hair loss. Mushrooms are also high in copper, which helps your body to better absorb iron from your diet. Copper is also a vital mineral when it comes to melanin production, and can help to delay the appearance of grey hairs.
Gets Rid of Dandruff
Selenium is important when it comes to healthy hair and thankfully, mushrooms are full of this vital mineral. Selenium not only supports hair growth, but it is also useful in taking care of those irritating and unpleasant specks on your hair and shoulders that we know as dandruff. How? By killing Malassezia (a type of fungus that causes dandruff) that is found on the scalp.
Fights Skin Inflammation
Last but certainly not least, mushroom’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can combat the damage caused by free radicals and help to treat and soothe a myriad of inflammation-related skin problems. Look for skin products that contain the extract of mushrooms as topical applications has been shown to fight inflammation caused by skin conditions such as eczema and rosacea.