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The Miraculous Mushroom

Your Health Matters - with Janet Zappala

For a while there, it seemed that kale was at the top of the superfood kingdom…on nearly every menu and making its way into practically everything. Even fast food eatery Chick-fil-A rolled out a superfood kale salad. The ubiquitous McDonald’s also incorporated the healthy green, offering a kale breakfast bowl.

Now in 2020, it seems there’s a new star on the horizon – mushroom powder – and here are the fungi facts.

Mushrooms date back to the ancient Egyptians. Personally, I enjoy most mushrooms, and cook with them quite often, but I only recently stumbled upon mushroom powders (mushrooms that have been dehydrated, then ground) when on a trip to a local health food store. Anything that boosts the immune system catches my eye, so I grabbed Om Immune Certified 100% Organic Mushroom Powder. Certified organic is extremely important when consuming mushrooms, because they can pass along dangerous heavy metals and other toxins. You also want to make sure they haven’t been grown in areas with pollution and other industrial toxins. 

The powder that I selected is grown in the United States where policies have been put into place to help protect consumers from potential health dangers.

When it comes to the potential health benefits of mushroom powder, the list is impressive as they contain digestive enzymes, fiber, prebiotics, proteins, polyphenols and flavonoids, just to name a few. All are derived from the various types of mushrooms used. 

At the top of the list is turkey tail, a medicinal mushroom that contains powerful antioxidants and compounds that may help boost the immune system. There are also maitake, shitake and reishi varieties among other kinds of dietary mushrooms that offer a wide array of nutrients. Some evidence shows that maitake mushrooms can lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels.1 In Chinese medicine, shitake mushrooms are thought to boost the immune system and studies suggest some of the bioactive compounds in shitake may help protect against inflammation and even cancer,2 although many of the studies were done in test tubes and not on people.

Scientific studies also found that reishi may alter inflammation pathways in white blood cells which can help fight infections and cancer in the body, particularly in people who are ill.3 Researchers do state that reishi should be administered in combination with medical treatment and not be a replacement for it.4 They also warn that some should probably avoid reishi, including pregnant women, those who are breastfeeding and people who have a blood disorder or low blood pressure. It’s also important to mention is that mushroom powders are not regulated by the FDA.

With its many benefits, it’s no wonder mushroom powder is beginning to get a “health halo” around it. It warrants looking into and finding out if it really is good for what ails you.

Janet Zappala is a certified nutritional consultant, an Emmy-award-winning anchor and reporter, and the creator and host of Your Health Matters. 

References:
1) www.healthline.com › nutrition › shiitake-mushroom;
2) www.ecowatch.com › 5-reasons-eat-shiitake-mushrooms;
3) www.healthline.com › nutrition › reishi-mushroom-benefits
4) www.healthline.com › nutrition › reishi-mushroom-benefits

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