Support overall wellbeing by adding more mushrooms to your diet.
Mushrooms are a versatile ingredient in the kitchen, from pizzas to bulking out meat dishes. They also provide numerous health benefits. Mushrooms are full of micronutrients and fibre, with very little calories or fat. Medicinal mushrooms have been used in traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years to promote wellbeing and longevity.
Culinary mushrooms are used fresh, while medicinal mushrooms tend to be best dried and used as a powder. While all mushrooms offer nutritional benefits, medicinal mushrooms stand out due to their higher concentration of compounds, which makes them more potent in their healing properties.
Learn more about five popular mushrooms, what benefits they can offer and how to add them to your diet.
One of the best studied herbal medicines on the planet, Reishi mushroom is now considered a superfood. It supports the immune system, reduces inflammation, nurtures calmness and may help stop the growth and spread of cancer cells. Reishi is also an adaptogen, meaning it supports the body during times of stress, anxiety and depression, and it can promote restorative sleep and even sharpen mental focus.
Reishi mushrooms have long been used in Eastern medicine to stimulate the immune system due to the high levels of beta-D glucan, a soluble fibre, which supports immune function.
Research shows that Reishi have anticancer potential by reducing tumour growth, easing the side effects of chemotherapy and intensifying the benefits of antioxidants to encourage the body’s own immune response.
Using Reishi alongside conventional cancer treatment has proven beneficial. It’s always best to discuss any alternative treatments with your oncologist if undergoing treatment for cancer.
How to Enjoy
Reishi mushroom is most effectively used as a powder. Either in capsule form or by adding it to your diet such as a teaspoon to a cup of tea, your favourite brownie recipe, granola, porridge, smoothies or this Golden Milk Nightcap.
The earthy flavour of reishi pairs perfectly with a cup of coffee or hot cocoa.
Shiitake mushrooms are very popular around the world and most commonly used in Asian cuisine, both fresh and dried. They offer a rich, savoury taste with very low calories and a variety of health benefits. They are also a good source of lentinan, a specific beta glucan, which not only supports the immune system, but healthy cholesterol levels and a healthy heart.
How to Enjoy
Dried Shiitake are easy to use, simply soak them in a jar of water for 4-6 hours. Use these as you would fresh mushrooms and use the water as stock in soups and sauces.
In powder form, add a spoonful to your soups, sauces, risotto or any buckwheat noodle dish, for some umami flavour (meaning ‘deliciousness’ in Japanese and considered the 5th taste category after sweet, salty, sour and bitter). Looking to expand your menu, try this amazing Japanese style dumpling Shiitake Gyoza with Stir-fried Pak Choy.
The Oyster mushroom has a delicate nutty flavour but a firm and meaty texture that adds depth to savoury dishes. Oyster mushrooms are a rich source of protein, Niacin (vitamin B3), riboflavin (vitamin B2), and minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc, manganese and selenium, along with fibre and antioxidants. They are low in calories, fat free, cholesterol free, gluten free and very low in sodium. Studies show Oyster mushrooms also contain cancer fighting properties.
Sustainable farming methods are used to grow oyster mushrooms, therefore providing a plant-based protein that is the perfect meat substitute for vegetarians.
How to Enjoy
Oyster mushrooms are versatile and easy to use. With a delicate flavour, it’s best to keep your dish simple, so their flavour is not lost. Use oyster mushrooms in scrambled eggs or frittata, soups, casseroles, stir fries, on pizza or in cheese toasties. For a quick side dish, crumb and fry in olive oil or butter with a bit of garlic or tamari.
White Button Mushroom
Don’t overlook this humble mushroom. It may not be the most potent variety, but it’s easy to get and super versatile to use. Plus, they are low in calories and carbohydrates, cholesterol free, sodium free, fat free, and full of vitamins. Button mushrooms are a good source of selenium, a trace mineral that is lacking in New Zealand soils. It’s important for cognitive function, a robust immune system and prostate health.
How to Enjoy
With a pleasant, mild and earthy flavour, they can be added to just about anything: egg dishes, Italian dishes, risottos, quesadillas, pasta salads, soups or spaghetti. Button mushrooms are perfect for turning simple vegetarian dishes into savoury and satisfying meals. Try this Spaghetti Bolognese or Lentil Chilli for a quick week night meal.
Portabella Mushrooms are widely available and also known to support the immune system and fight off cancer cells. They offer plant-based protein and plenty of antioxidants and phytonutrients. Portabellas have a rich source of selenium, copper and niacin (vitamin B6) and an excellent source of riboflavin (Vitamin B2), a vitamin important to energy production.
How to Enjoy
Portabellas are perfect for using as a vegetarian burger or a steak substitute. Grill with a splash of olive oil, garlic powder and sea salt for a satisfying burger or side dish. Impress your vegan friends with these Tofu Edamame Mushroom Burgers.
Mushrooms can be a powerful addition to your wellness regime. Using both culinary and medicinal mushrooms offer a variety of health benefits and support sustainable food choices too. Check with a qualified health practitioner about which mushrooms and what doses may be best for your personal health goals.