Health Benefits of Morel Mushrooms
This wild variety of fungi won’t look the least bit appetizing on your plate. However, the morel mushroom is said to be one of the tastiest types of mushroom on the planet, as well as being fully loaded with nutritious and medicinal properties while low in fat and calories. This makes them a welcome addition to meal times, during which they can be added to a variety of dishes, including French cuisines.
Morel mushrooms are hard to seek out but can be found most easily in the spring. Dried versions are also available in specialist stores throughout the year. They tend to crop up near the ‘drip-line’ of trees – usually sycamore, aspen, and coniferous trees, along roadsides and gardens, situated mostly in Northern and Western North America. Their appearance is of a honeycomb texture, and they range from yellow to dark brown, their size two to four inches long.
Morel mushrooms are a great source of vitamin D, a supplement not easily found in foods, which is an essential source for bone mineralisation, protection and stimulation for the immune system, and for fighting against various cancers. Wheat, dairy products, or even plant-based foods, do not contain nearly as much vitamin D as mushrooms. Because of the low levels of vitamin D in everyday foods, the primary source of this nutritional element for humans is sunlight, as the exposure of rays triggers a process in your skin which produces this vitamin. Even this method of acquiring the supplement can be insufficient, so anything to enhance our vitamin D levels is invaluable.
Morel mushrooms also contain a significantly high number of antioxidants and can prevent health problems such like heart disease, improving cardiovascular health because of their high levels of vitamin E, potassium, and copper. The amount of iron present in a cup of raw morel mushrooms will provide eight milligrams of iron, which is the daily recommended allowance for men, and almost half for women. Iron is essential for diets as they help prevent anaemia, and help to maintain growth and energy. Morel mushrooms also contain high amounts of selenium and niacin, which can aid in fighting cancers such as that of the prostate.
Although these mushrooms are difficult to find, the task is not impossible. What is certain is that you must identify them properly and not capture it’s similar, yet poisonous counterpart by mistake. The appearance of false morels is a more wrinkled texture, as opposed to the honeycomb appearance, and slicing open a false morel reveals ‘cottony’ and more solid innards, unlike the hollowness of the safe morel. For this reason, experience is essential when hunting for these so, at the very least, obtaining extensive research into its appearance and locations is necessary.
You should also never eat them raw, as cooking them will eliminate all the properties that cause negative or allergic reactions in humans. It’s also wise to try small amounts first and waiting a while before eating more if you’ve never had them before. Cooking them with pasta, omelettes, casseroles or even stuffing the mushroom itself makes for a welcome addition to meal times.
Mushrooms for Beautiful Skin
Various studies have long proven the many health benefits of mushrooms. Not only do these delicious, meaty veggies help maintain healthy cholesterol levels; they also increase Vitamin D levels and improve our overall nutritional intake, and help keep our skin in tip-top condition and much of it has to do with their potent antioxidant effects.
Our modern day diet tends to comprise many foods which cause skin to age prematurely. Sugar is, perhaps, the biggest culprit. When we consume too many processed carbohydrates, our glucose levels spike, which leads not only to insulin resistance (and, possibly, Type II diabetes), but also plays havoc with our skin, causing collagen fibres to cross-link and skin to take on a saggy, dull, lined appearance.
Another culprit is the amount of environmental toxins we expose our skin to every day. Common skincare products, advertised as bestowing anti-ageing effects, can contain many chemicals which together form a toxic concoction that leads to premature ageing. Many commercial sunscreens, for instance, claim to keep harmful UV rays away from the skin, yet they contain chemicals which, in combination with these rays, can do more harm than good. Therefore, when it comes to sunscreens, it is best to use physical blocks, which completely repel the sun’s rays.
For youthful skin that is free of sagging and lines, we need to approach ageing from an internal perspective, questioning the chemical content of the products we apply to our skin, and adopting a diet that is high in antioxidants (which fight the free radicals that cause our skin to age). It is also vital to avoid known toxins (including cigarettes and illicit substances), taking necessary steps to curb any harmful addiction, since drugs and tobacco contain an inordinate number of chemicals that age skin considerably before its time. If you are in recovery from addiction, now is a better time than ever to consume antioxidant-rich foods such as mushrooms, to improve your overall nutrition and help your body detoxify from harmful substances.
Some of the beneficial effects of mushroom for our skin include their anti-inflammatory properties. Much research by eminent skin specialists such as Dr. Nicholas Perricone have pointed to the role of inflammation in skin ageing. To keep harmful inflammation processes at bay, it is vital to fill your pantry with antioxidant- rich mushrooms. Mushrooms fight free radicals, which cause fine lines, wrinkles, dullness and loss of firmness. Additionally, make sure you drink enough water (to flush out toxins) and load up on Omega-3 essential fatty acids – these can be found in fatty fish (such as tuna and salmon) and walnuts. Omega-3s repair skin’s protective barrier, locking in much-needed moisture.
In addition to being powerful inflammation busters, mushrooms are also rich in Vitamin D and selenium, which protect skin against the pigmentation caused by sun exposure. The secret to mushrooms’ ability to prevent dark spots is kojic acid, which controls the production of melanin.
Mushrooms are also a wonderful source of a specific polysaccharide that has similar properties to hyaluronic acid, plumping and firming skin and ensuring it has enough moisture. If you have acne, you can even try applying mushrooms topically; their Vitamin D content has been found to reduce skin lesions and calm infections, making them an ideal solution for those who prefer natural methods to treat skin conditions.
As a bonus, mushrooms are also an ideal food for beautiful hair. They are an excellent source of iron, a vital mineral which plays an important role in red blood cell formation. Anemia is one of the most common reasons for hair loss so if you suddenly find that you are losing more hair than usual, pay a visit to the doctor to check your red blood cells levels. If your iron levels are low, stock up on mushrooms, which are also rich in selenium – an antioxidant which kills a fungus called Malassezia (which, when present on the scalp, can cause hair loss).
Mushrooms are delicious, affordable and ultra-healthy. Some of their additional benefits include reducing cholesterol and aiding with weight loss (since they are low-calorie and low-carb all at once, yet high in fibre). They are easy to prepare – check out our recipes section for tasty ideas the whole family will enjoy. When you begin to approach beauty from an internal perspective, the pursuit of beautiful skin suddenly becomes effortless, simple, and more affordable than it ever was.
Achieve Your Weight Loss Goals with Magnificent Mushrooms!
As recently as a few years back, the media was abuzz with the apparent success of stringent low-carb diets, which may have helped celebrities shed pounds, but which often forbade the consumption of life-giving fruits and vegetables. Many recent studies have done plenty to burst the zero-/low-carb bubble, their findings indicating that the best way to lose weight and keep it off, is by consuming a high-fruit and –vegetable diet.
Mushrooms can play an important role in this type of diet, because they are low-calorie, they have a very low GI-score and they wield a host of health benefits. Mushrooms are very high in antioxidants, scavenging the free radicals that can cause everything from heart disease to cancer. Indeed, it can be argued that the ultimate aim shouldn’t just be about keeping slim, if not feeling healthy and vital for the rest of our lives. A diet which is extremely strict and makes no room for vegetables can ultimately lead to serious problems like digestive diseases and cancer, which is why we should always make room for these foods in our lives. These are some of the ways mushrooms can be part of a realistic, long-term weight loss and maintenance diet:
- Turning the food pyramid upside down: Many of the most devastating illnesses in America and Canada are food- and lifestyle- related. These include heart disease and cancer. Obesity, caused in no small part by the inordinate amounts of sugar we shunt into our system on a daily basis. Refined sugar and high fructose syrup (which is used to sweeten sodas and typical cakes and cookies) are causative factors for cancer and heart disease. Numerous studies have shown that the ideal heart healthy diet is the Mediterranean diet (comprising a host of seasonal fruits and vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, Omega-3 rich foods like fatty fish, healthy olive oil, etc.). Scientists at the University of California conducted a study showing that when it comes to weight loss, the Mediterranean diet is also the way to go. They compared the amount of weight lost by persons following vegetarian, mainly plant-based and omnivorous diet, and found that those following a vegetarian diet lost the most amount of weight. Scientists reminded readers that this does not mean that one can lose weight by consuming all kinds of fruits and vegetables. Rather, the focus should be on produce that scores low on the GI-index. Top foods to consume include mushrooms, green vegetables, strawberries and grapefruit.
- Substituting red meat with mushrooms: An interesting study showed that substituting red meat with mushrooms can improve weight loss. In the study, a group of obese men in their late 40s, substituted red meat with one cup of delicious mushrooms. Another group (the control group) consumed meat regularly. At the end of a 12-month period, the group that had consumed the mushrooms lost an average of seven pounds and had a lower waist circumference, than the meat eaters. It is vital to note that having a large waist circumference is one of the characteristics usually present in metabolic syndrome (a series of factors which, when taken together, increase the chance of heart disease and stroke). In addition to showing improvements in their body composition, the mushroom eaters also showed an improved ability to maintain the weight they had lost.
- Mushrooms the low calorie super food: Despite being almost meaty in their flavour and appearance, mushrooms are surprisingly low-calorie. The famous Dr. Oz has referred to mushroom as ‘the ultimate weight loss food’, since they are low calorie yet high in fiber all at once. One cup of mushrooms has only 15 or so calories and approximately 2 grams of fiber; it is no wonder that those who substitute meat with this delicious bounty lose weight; a small steak can have in the region of 300 calories.
- Mushrooms and blood sugar levels: Mushrooms have been shown to be a particularly useful vegetable for weight loss, since they contain components that help stabilize blood sugar levels. When glucose is kept at a stable level, we do not encounter powerful cravings for sugary, unhealthy foods, which are the ultimate culprit when it comes to weight gain.
If all this hasn’t convinced you to add a few precious mushrooms to your life, their important health benefits may just do the trick. Mushrooms are an incredibly nutritious food. They keep inflammation at bay, strengthen the immunity and are rich in Vitamin B, iron and zinc (which promote strong, healthy nails and shiny hair). Their high antioxidant content will also help skin cells functioning at an optimal level, which will keep you looking young. Mushrooms are also highly affordable, making them a food your whole family should enjoy as often as they appeal…
Mushrooms to the Rescue for Mental Health
As well as being a great source of vitamin D, mushrooms have been found to play a role in helping with weight management, improved nutrition, and even helping to fortify immune system function. By adding a handful of dry wild mushrooms to your cooking, you will not only impress your friends with your culinary expertise, you will also help your bones to absorb calcium by supplementing your vitamin D levels. Who would have thought that eating mushrooms really could make you a fun guy? People who have a healthy intake of vitamin D throughout the year are more likely to have increased energy levels, more enthusiasm and a lesser inclination to hibernate the winter away in bed.
Fungal fortification for people suffering from eating disorders
Research carried out by the Vitamin D Council has shown that vitamin D deficiency might play a role in anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, two common eating disorders. Sufferers of anorexia regularly consider themselves to be overweight despite actually being emaciated. The main symptoms of bulimia are binge eating and then purging the body of food by making yourself sick or taking laxatives. Sufferers of bulimia may also have a distorted self-image when it comes to size and weight, though to look at sufferers of bulimia can appear to have a normal weight. Both bulimia and anorexia are classed as addiction-type illnesses.
Mood disorders caused by vitamin D deficiency can only worsen the quality of life of an eating disorder sufferer due to an increased tendency towards depression. Eating mushrooms as part of a balanced diet and alongside vitamin D supplements is a great way of boosting positive feelings and preventing depression.
Happy mushrooms mean fewer SAD people
Readers in the northern United States and Canada know what is meant by the acronym SAD when it comes to this time of year. Seasonal Affective Disorder can present as feeling depressed, having lower energy levels, sleeping more in the winter months and being less enthusiastic and less productive. As the days get shorter and darker and the little light we do get becomes dimmer, our bodies absorb less and less vitamin D from the sun’s rays, which can result in feelings of depression.
The good news is that by eating mushrooms, which are very high in vitamin D it is possible to limit the effects of seasonal depression. Research has shown that eating wild mushrooms over their bland, cultivated counterparts is preferable due to higher vitamin levels in the product. If you have ever cooked with wild mushrooms you will know that there really is no comparison between the two when it comes to flavor and texture. Hearty winter stews and broths have the effect of making us feel happy because they are hot, filling and nutritious. Adding a good source of vitamin D into the mix will improve this concoction on every level, as mushrooms have the propensity to compliment any meat or vegetable dish.
Into the unknown
There are thousands of different types of mushrooms out there, most of which have not yet been researched and many of which we know absolutely nothing about. Part of the mystery surrounding fungi boils down to the fact that certain types are deadly poisonous. Despite this fear factor, many people revere the hallucinogenic properties of certain fungi. The humble mushroom is a much sought after source of umami, the mysterious fifth taste, which along with sweet, sour, bitter and salty completes our current lexicon of flavor. Described as a pleasant savoury taste; the word is borrowed from the Japanese, a people whose diet is high in umami rich products such as soy and fermented fish sauces. Mushrooms have been revered throughout history for having medicinal properties, particularly in Chinese and Japanese traditional medicine.
As an increasing amount of research goes into the health properties of mushrooms, our fungal friends seem to find more and more ways of surprising us with interesting ways of improving our general health. As the only non-animal product which can provide a high source of the all-essential vitamin D, mushrooms are an ingredient to stock up on in their fresh and dried forms.
An ingredient that is as tasty as it is healthy, we could all do with eating more mushrooms.