6 Super Mushrooms To Rock Your World
Written by: Drew Canole
Mushrooms contain some of the most potent natural medicines on the planet. They are naturally low in sodium, fat, cholesterol and calories and have high amounts of antioxidants and fiber. They contain antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antioxidant and antitumor properties. Many mushrooms have been shown to stop or even destroy cancer cells in their tracks.
Here are half a dozen super mushrooms to expand your mushroom world! Since they absorb everything around them, good or bad, they are important to eat organic whenever possible.
Shiitake (Lentinula edodes)
Shiitake mushrooms have been used for over 6,000 years for their medicinal and nutritional properties. In Asia they are a symbol of longevity. Because they respond well to thunderstorms, some farmers used to play thunderstorm music and flash flashlights or tap logs with hammers nearby the mushrooms to help encourage them to grow.
Shiitake are perhaps one of the easier super mushrooms to find in U.S. supermarkets.
The most well documented benefits of shiitake mushrooms are on the immune system. They act like an adaptogen, able to either boost immune activity or prevent excessive immune activity, depending on the body’s needs.
Shiitake mushrooms are thought to be a powerful aphrodisiac and may help sexual function. Studies also show that adding shiitake mushroom to one’s diet may help prevent weight gain.
Antiviral, antibacterial, antitumor and antifungal properties: Some studies suggest that shiitake can help protect against cardiovascular disease. This may be due to their antioxidant power in the cardiovascular system.
Animal studies done at the National University of Singapore showed that tumors either stopped growing or shrunk significantly in mice with human colon-carcinoma cells.
How to eat them:
Shiitake is a meaty rich-flavored mushroom and can be eaten raw or cooked in various dishes. For better flavor, they can first be briefly soaked in water or sauted.
Lions Mane mushrooms look kind of wacky, with cascading tendrils that resemble a lion’s mane. They have been used for thousands of years in Asia and are said to give one “nerves of steel and the memory of a lion.” It is thought Buddhist monks also used Lions Mane to enhance brain power and their ability to concentrate during meditation.
Lions Mane is said to be the top super mushroom for the brain and nervous system. In fact animal studies have been done to test its ability to aid nerve regeneration, with promising results. It is believed to be helpful for those with epilepsy or other seizure related disorders and Alzheimer’s disease.
Lions mane was discovered by Dr. Hirokazu Kawagishi in Japan to stimulate Nerve Growth Factor, which is the protein that enhances and repairs neurological disorders. It is responsible for brain tissue regeneration and memory.
Lion’s mane is also thought to help with elevating one’s mood.
In Chinese medicine, lions mane is used to help stomach and digestive issues like ulcers and gastritis.
Antioxidant properties: Lions mane contains high amounts of antioxidants, which are made available when the mushrooms are heated. They are also full of polysaccharides and polypeptides that work to enhance the immune system.
How to eat them:
Using powdered extracts of Lion’s Mane is the most effective way to receive all the medicinal benefits from the mushroom. The powder is also available in capsule form. It can be taken like a pill, added to hot drinks, shakes, or smoothies. It is also available in tincture form. Depending on where you live, you might be able to find whole dried mushrooms that you can use for tea, or fresh mushrooms that you can steam.
Lions mane has a firm texture and can easily be used as a meat replacement.
Maitake, “the dancing mushroom”, is native to the mountains of Japan. According to legend, it was once so rare that people would dance for joy when they found it, as it was worth its own weight in silver. In Italy they call it “the unmarried woman” while in America we call it “hen of the woods”. This is probably because it looks like a fluffed up chicken sitting at the base of trees.
Maitake is thought to help reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes because it regulates blood sugar levels. Diabetes is responsible for numerous other health issues like neuropathy, kidney disease, weight problems and retina degeneration. In one study, diabetic mice who took maitake powder had decreased blood sugar levels while no change happened in the control group.
A small study in Japan showed that maitake can help with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS can cause infertility, irregular periods and other complications. Taking maitake regularly helped those with PCOS have an ovulation rate of 77%. Although taking certain medications can create the same or better outcomes, they also come with undesirable side effects. Maitake has none.
Anti-cancer and antiviral properties: Maitake can be a powerful immune system booster. Several studies point to maitake as stimulating apoptosis, or “programmed suicide”, of cancer cells as well as stopping the proliferation of blood that feeds tumors.
How to eat them:
You can find dried maitake mushrooms sold online or in most asian stores. Certain elements of maitake are common in supplement form. You can also cook raw mushrooms yourself with organic butter (or ghee), or throw them in soups and salads.
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)
Reishi mushrooms were used for food and medicine as far back as the reign of the first Chinese emperor. The Chinese even believed in a ‘Reishi Goddess’ that bestowed health, youth, and longevity. Historically it was only given to royalty. Even today it is one of the most respected mushrooms in China, Japan, Korea, and other Asian countries.
Reishi has been said to be a “fix-it-all” mushroom for issues such as diabetes, heart problems asthma, ulcers, fatigue, insomnia, high cholesterol, etc.
An ingredient in reishi called triterpenes may help with common allergies by blocking histamine release and helping the body use oxygen.
Reishi mushrooms are also known as adaptogens, and can aid all the organs of the body in creating homeostasis (balance). It is also thought to ‘fine tune’ the immune system.
Antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties: Certain enzymes in reishi mushrooms help to rid the body of toxins and free radicals, as well as help the liver. Out of 204 mushrooms tested in Spain for their antimicrobial properties against certain bacterias, reishi ranked at the top of the list. An antimicrobial is something that kills microorganisms in the body.
Although reishi has yet to be proved as a treatment for cancer, researchers agree it is at least a beneficial supplement for those enduring chemotherapy and radiation.
How to eat them:
Reishi mushrooms are traditionally prepared as teas or infusions. They can also be found in capsules and tinctures. Recently they’ve become an ingredient in energy drinks and certain coffee blends. They are difficult to eat raw because their skin is so tough.
Cordyceps (Cordyceps militaris)
Cordyceps originated in Tibet and have long been known as a rare and exotic medicinal mushroom.
Cordyceps are used to improve energy levels when recovering from sickness and as a remedy for fatigue and weakness. They contain all 18 essential amino acids along with numerous vitamins and even protein. They are also used to improve respiratory function, heart function, kidney disease and immune function.
People of North Sikkim in India take cordyceps with a cup of milk to increase their sexual desire. Several studies point to cordyceps as being beneficial to testosterone levels.
Antioxidant and antiviral properties: Studies have shown cordyceps as a good free radical scavenger. In a group of studies done in Japan, cordyceps proved to aid in preventing hepatitis C virus, a virus that results in chronic liver disease.
In a study with 50 lung cancer patients, researchers found that taking cordyceps along with chemotherapy reduced tumor sizes by 46%.
How to eat them:
Cordyceps can be eaten whole or cooked with any meal. They can be also taken in tea, as a capsule, powder or tincture.
Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor)
Also known as “cloud mushroom” turkey tail is a colorful mushroom that grows in maroon, blue and green. In Asian culture, this mushroom’s curving cloud-like shapes symbolize longevity and health, spiritual attunement and infinity.
Turkey tail is used to treat infections, chronic fatigue, pain, to combat respiratory ailments, poor digestion, urinary infections, liver ailments, etc.
Antiviral and antioxidant properties: Eating turkey tail stimulates natural killer cells in the body, which then find virally-infected cells and destroys them. These antiviral compounds are especially good at killing HPC and hepatitis C viruses, which cause cervical and liver cancers. Turkey tail and other medicinal mushrooms are believed to lessen the odds of getting cancer because they beat cancer-causing viruses to the punch. Who knew mushrooms were such powerhouses?
Turkey tail has an incredible influence on the immune system. Ending in 2011, the National Institute of Health funded a $2 million clinical study to find out the effects of turkey tail on the immune system, specifically in women with breast cancer. The polysaccharide complex PSP in turkey tail proved to significantly enhance immune system function in 70-90% of cancer patients.
How to eat them:
Turkey tail can be used as a tincture, extract, in tea, or even chewed like gum.
I sure hope you are ready to rush to the grocery store! Mushrooms are incredible and by most people, not well understood. Expand your horizons, my friend and buy some of these awesome mushrooms! Your health will love you for it. To get you started, I’ve gathered a few stellar recipes that use the above-mentioned mushrooms for you to try. Let me know what you think! 🙂
Green Bean and Shiitake Mushroom Stir-Fry
- 1 lb french green beans, trimmed
- 1 Tbs. organic unrefined coconut oil
- ½ large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cups shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 1 garlic clove, minced (more if you’d like)
- 2” knob ginger root, freshly grated
- A little oyster sauce diluted in 2 tablespoons water
- Steam green beans by boiling a cup of water in a pan or wok, adding the green beans and covering for 5 minutes. Drain the beans and wipe out the pan.
- Heat coconut oil. Add onions and mushrooms and stir fry for 3 minutes. Turn down the heat and add green beans, garlic, and ginger and stir for 30 seconds.
- Add oyster sauce and cook for one more minute.
Lemon and Lions Mane Brain Booster
- 1 chopped up lions mane mushroom
- 1 freshly juice lemon
- 2 tablespoons organic coconut oil
- ¾ cup of chopped cherry tomatoes
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon ground flax
- Himalayan pink salt to taste
- Heat the mushrooms in the coconut oil until they begin to brown. Usually about 5-7 minutes.
- Add cherry tomatoes, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, paprika, and lemon juice. Cook for another few minutes until tomatoes are soft.
- Add parsley, ground flax, and Himalayan pink salt.
Maitake and Asparagus Garden Stir Fry
- 1 cup sliced maitake mushrooms
- 2-3 cloves minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon organic coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon liquid amino acids*
- 1 sliced medium carrot
- 1 cup sweet organic corn
- 20 asparagus cut into 2 inch pieces
- ½ cup water
- 1 tablespoon juice/squeezed ginger root juice
- Soak maitake for 20 minutes and save the water.
- Sautee maitake and garlic in oil for a few minutes.
- Add water and liquid aminos, cover.
- Simmer for 6-8 minutes.
- Add carrots, corn, and asparagus and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Pour ginger juice over veggies and saute for another minute.
- Serve and enjoy!
Drew Canole is a rockstar in the world of fitness, nutrition and mindset, with a huge heart for others and doing his part to transform the world, one person at a time.
As the founder and CEO of Fitlife.TV, he is committed to sharing educational, inspirational and entertaining videos and articles about health, fitness, healing and longevity. He is also a best selling author and the founder of Organifi, an organic, incredibly delicious greens powder, chock-full of superfoods to make juicing easy no matter your busy schedule.
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