Evolutionarily speaking, fungi are more closely related to humans than plants. This fact may be why many of the components that help mushrooms defend themselves against their enemies also support your body’s defense mechanisms and are increasingly being seen as a legitimate means to enhance your health and well-being.
The ancient Egyptians believed eating mushrooms brought long life. And mushrooms have been used for thousands of years in cultures around the world, particularly in Asian countries.
Now, modern scientists are discovering some fascinating healing properties of mushrooms. And more than a hundred species of mushrooms are currently being studied across around the world today for their potential health benefits.
The Extraordinary Health Benefits of Mushrooms
More than 2,000 species of edible mushrooms exist on the planet. Some of the more common medicinal mushrooms:
- Chaga (Inonotus obliquus)
- Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)
- Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor, Coriolus versicolor)
- Shiitake (Lentinula edodes)
- Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus)
- Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis)
But even the commonly consumed button mushrooms are medicinal mushrooms!
The health benefits of mushrooms that have been identified by extensive scientific research. They are a great source of increasing antioxidant activity.
All available evidence indicates that, at high levels, free radicals damage various structures in your body’s cells. This cellular damage contributes to an increase in your risk for developing many health problems, including those related to aging. This is why decreasing or inactivating free radicals can lead to huge benefits for your health.
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Dietary antioxidants, such as vitamin C, vitamin A, selenium, beta-carotene, and others, counter the adverse health effects of free radicals. Promisingly, many mushrooms also contain powerful ingredients that have been found to neutralize free radicals.
For instance, extracts of the medicinal and dietary mushroom Reishi have been shown to reduce free radical activity. Known in China as the “spirit plant,” Reishi is believed to relax and fortify both mind and body.
Another medicinal mushroom, chaga, is also known for its antioxidant properties — indeed, according to a report in the International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, a Chaga polysaccharide has been found to possess “strong antioxidant activity for scavenging free radicals.”
Similarly, the journal Carbohydrate Polymers reports that polysaccharides present in the fungus Cordyceps have been shown to “improve the antioxidation activity in immunosuppressed mice (and to) significantly increase… total antioxidant capacity.”
The great news is that Cordyceps not only helps to neutralize harmful free radicals, it also enhances the activity of your body’s innate antioxidant systems.
And what about the common “table mushrooms” like button, crimini, portobello, or oyster? There is considerable evidence that all edible mushrooms, even the most common grocery store varieties, have potent health-boosting properties. But the most powerful may be the medicinal mushrooms described in this article.