EATING MUSHROOMS: Are There Health Benefits Or Risks?

Those little umbrella-shaped fungi may look like they do not have much room for a lot of nutrients but in the real sense, it has just enough room to contain the most important nutrients that one needs (which you may not get from many popular crop plants) in the human body. Eating mushrooms is one of the best ways to achieve exceptionally physical and mental health, here’s how:

  1. Skin – According to a 2017 study mushrooms have been found to contain a high concentration of ergothioneine and glutathione and these are powerful antioxidants that when combined fight the signs of aging such as lines and wrinkles and protects the body from the visible effects of stress. The much-acclaimed benefits of mushrooms to the skin is the reason why it is widely used in serums, facials for skin whitening and antioxidant.


2. Brain – Mushrooms that contain the abovementioned antioxidants have the qualities to protect the brain and reduce the risk of neurological illnesses as you grow older. The same antioxidants also help to keep Parkinson’s syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease at bay according to research. Consumption of at least five mushrooms per day eliminates the risk of neurological disease.


3. Mental health – mushrooms have ample mental health benefits. In a 2019 study, a group of researchers in Singapore found that the consumption of mushrooms every week reduces the possibility of mild cognitive decline and boosts your memory.


4. Bones – did you know that some packs of mushrooms at the grocery stores have the labeling “UVB”? well, these particular mushrooms have been exposed to sunlight in contrast, to those that are grown in the dark. This is deliberately done so as to convert the ergosterol present in the mushroom directly to vitamin D. so eating 3 ounces of these UVB mushrooms helps to meet up your daily vitamin D requirement needed for your general wellbeing and Calcium that would boost the health of your bones and delay the onset of osteoporosis, degradation of bones ad joint pain.


5. Heart – mushrooms can be used in place of salt for its richness in glutamate ribonucleotides which reduces the risk of blood pressure or heart disease. Only 5mg of sodium can be gotten from a cup of mushrooms. If used in place of meat in dishes, it is the most perfect way to cut down on calories, fat, and cholesterol in your meals.


6. Energy production – vitamin B types such as Thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5) and folate (B9) contained in mushrooms helps the body to utilize the energy from the meals we eat and also produce red blood cells for the carrying of oxygen all through the body.


7. Prevents inflammation – the ergothioneine found in mushrooms help to prevent inflammation. Reishi is a specific kind of mushroom common in Asia which is best for the prevention of inflammation, fighting off diseases and allergies and reducing the growth of a tumor.


8. Helps in absorbing iron and treatment of anemia – mushrooms contain copper which helps in the proper absorption and utilization of iron from meals. Copper and iron help to prevent anemia together, they also give us healthy bones and enhances the functionality of our red blood cells. Symptoms of anemia such as fatigue, headaches, reduced neural friction, and digestive problems are all eliminated with adequate consumption of mushrooms.


9. Enhance immunity – vitamin A, B-complex, and vitamin C and ergothioneine, a sulfur-containing amino acid helps to provide immunity to several diseases in the body and eradicate free radicals. The mushroom’s natural antibiotic nature helps in preventing fungal infections and the growth of microbes.


10. Fights cancer – The mushroom has the ability to eliminate oxidants and free radicals in our body and so reduces the risk of cancer. The selenium in mushrooms helps the liver enzymes to perform optimally and detoxify some cancer-causing materials in the body. The vitamin D in mushrooms also controls the growth cycle of cells and stops the growth of cancer cells in the body.


11. Helps achieve weight loss – mushrooms have low carbohydrate content and more of proteins and dietary fibers. They also have an insignificant quantity of fat or cholesterol. Mushrooms have Beta-glucans and chitin which are two kinds of dietary fibers that make you feel fuller and decrease appetite, which is what makes it highly beneficial for weight loss.

Nutritional value per 100 grams of mushrooms

Calories 22g
Total fat 0.3g
Sodium 5mg
Potassium 318mg
Protein 3.1g
Total carbohydrate 3.3g
Vitamin D 0.01%
Vitamin C 3%
Iron 2%
Vitamin B6 5%

Are there any risks in eating mushrooms?

The risk of eating mushrooms lies in the fact that not all mushrooms are safe to eat and it may be difficult for a layman to tell the difference between consumable mushrooms and wild (unsafe) mushrooms. Even consumable mushrooms might have some serious side effects when contaminated or consumed by one who has allergies to them.  So here are the risks in eating mushrooms:

  1. Food poisoning – mushrooms can be contaminated with the bacteria Campylobacter Jejuni which can be sometimes found in commercially grown mushrooms. If not properly washed or cooked, it can lead to food poisoning. When such a mushroom is consumed, symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramps may occur. The likely cause of this bacterial contamination is improper pasteurization or cross-contamination from other foods that are animal-derived.
  2. Death – wild mushrooms resemble edible mushrooms such as chanterelles or button mushrooms but are toxic and can lead to death when consumed. These deadly mushrooms include amanitas, false morel, and “little brown mushrooms”. People have some form of autoimmune diseases like lupus, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis should avoid wild mushrooms as the beta-glucans in them can stimulate immune functions.
  3. Psychosis – a type of mushroom known as the “magic mushrooms” or psilocybin can cause psychosis. Its symptoms are usually a series of mental effects such as hallucinations, irrational behaviors, distorted perceptions of sounds, and sight. These symptoms can occur 20 minutes after consumption. Physical effects or symptoms include weakness of muscle, drowsiness, nausea, ataxia, and vomiting. Magic mushrooms are considered illegal in the United States.
  4. Allergic reactions – mushrooms produce spores which have high tendencies to trigger allergic reactions in some people. Mushrooms release mold spores into the air, mold allergies can lead to respiratory infections, lung disease, or asthma.


In all, the benefits of eating mushrooms are numerous, though comes with a few risks. To avoid these risks involved, it is better to ensure that you are picking or buying consumable mushrooms. If you cannot distinguish edible mushrooms from wild mushrooms, it is best you purchase from the grocery stores only. Ensure also that you do not have allergies to them before consumption.


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