Can mushrooms improve immunity, reduce heart disease, and even fight and reverse cancer? They can do all this and more, according to countless patients and a growing body of medical research.
Mushrooms have been used for thousands of years by traditional Eastern healers, but Western medicine has only recently begun to recognize their power. Now, even the National Institutes of Health and the pharmaceutical industry are acknowledging the astonishing properties that mushrooms
Much of the focus on mushroom health benefits and healing has been reserved for exotic and lesser-known mushrooms such as reishi, turkey tail, lion’s mane, and others. But the 900 million pounds of mushrooms Americans consume each year are mostly of the Agaricus bisporus variety, which includes regular white mushrooms (button, closed cup, open cup, and large flat) and brown mushrooms (also called chestnut, champignon marron, crimini, and portobello).
Exciting new research shows that the common Agaricus bisporus mushrooms have extraordinary curative powers, as well.
Common Mushrooms Are Uncommonly Powerful
Button mushrooms — the world’s most frequently eaten mushroom — have grown wild and been eaten by humans since the times of the early hunter-gatherers. Traditional civilizations thought that mushrooms had special powers.
Ancient Egyptians believed mushrooms could grant immortality, and thus only the pharaohs were deemed worthy of eating or even touching them. In ancient Rome, mushrooms were often referred to as “food for the gods.” In Russia, China, and Mexico, and other world cultures, folklore held that mushrooms conferred superhuman strength.
Science Validates the Health Benefits of Everyday Mushrooms
Now, finally, the modest Agaricus bisporus mushrooms are attracting the well-deserved attention and praise of medical science. In her recent report, “Mushrooms — the New Superfood,” leading nutritionist Jane Clarke summarizes major scientific studies from around the world that highlight the extraordinary nutritional value and the potential of mushroom health benefits.
To begin with, health experts and nutritionists refer to Agaricus bisporus mushrooms as nature’s nutritional supplement. That’s because mushrooms are loaded with the nutrients our bodies need to generate energy and repair cells — including digestive enzymes, a spectrum of B vitamins, protein, and vitamin D2.
The impact of mushrooms on immunity is remarkable. Their curative powers have been shown to improve eyesight…hearing…circulation…impotency…migraine headaches…tumors…and infections.
Furthermore, mushrooms contain biologically active substances shown to help prevent cancerous cells from forming or recurring. Eating mushrooms regularly over long periods of time has been proven to actually decrease the number of cancerous cells in the body.
Studies at the Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope in Duarte, California, suggest that white button mushrooms contain an important cancer-fighting substance called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA minimizes the effects of the enzyme aromatase, which reduces risks posed by high estrogen levels.
High estrogen has been implicated in many serious health conditions, including breast cancer. Experts are fascinated by the presence of CLA in mushrooms, because this type of fatty acid is otherwise found exclusively in animal foods such as milk, cheese, and meats.
In the Beckman Institute study, white mushrooms showed more promise for reducing cancer risk from high estrogen than any of the 7 vegetables tested — onion, celery, carrot, pepper, broccoli, spinach, and mushroom. White mushrooms contained the most effective aromatase inhibitor. Additional experiments at the City of Hope Medical Center showed that white button mushrooms play a positive, chemo-preventive role against prostate cancer.
Mushrooms also offer incredible protection against inflammation. Chronic inflammation increases the risks of many health problems, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers. Research shows that eating whole fresh mushrooms, mushroom extracts, and powdered/dried mushrooms can help block the production of pro-inflammatory molecules.
In some studies of inflammation reduction, crimini mushrooms have outperformed other exotic mushroom superstars, such as shiitake and maitake. The anti-inflammatory studies of mushrooms have usually been conducted on laboratory animals, and the results have been consistent and clear: including crimini mushrooms in the diet can help prevent overproduction of pro-inflammatory molecules.
Crimini mushrooms have also been studied for their capacity to boost heart health. Extracts of crimini have proven to prevent the binding of certain immune cells to the lining of the aorta.
Reducing this binding lowers the risk of aorta damage and blood flow problems.
Agaricus bisporus mushrooms are also a prime natural source of the powerful antioxidant L-Ergothioneine — which scavenges free radicals and protects against DNA damage. Mushrooms have proven to provide more L-Ergothioneine than either wheat germ or chicken liver, the two foods previously believed to be better sources.
Studies at Pennsylvania State University found that just a handful of white button mushrooms provides about 12 times more L-Ergothioneine than wheat germ, and 4 times more than chicken liver.
Researchers from Pennsylvania State advocated that based on these findings, white mushrooms should be promoted to superfood status.
New Research Breakthroughs on the Horizon
We’re fortunate that mushrooms are finally emerging from the shadows and into the limelight of clinical laboratories around the globe. It’s clear that research has barely begun to reveal the full range of remarkable mushroom health benefits, that may be offered by going to the grocery store.
Emerging evidence from exciting new studies suggests that mushrooms may also help to:
• Boost energy, eliminate fatigue, and balance the effects of stress
• Promote healthy skin and hair
• Cleanse the liver and flush out toxins
• Improve brain cell function and promote memory and concentration
Common mushrooms may have much to offer you in your quest for ultimate health. Eating fresh mushrooms is a great first step toward reaping their astounding benefits. In addition, a wide variety of mushroom-based compound supplements are becoming available in the natural medicine community and through many online retailers. Research suggests that safe, small doses of these supplements can deliver powerful benefits.
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