by Kari Collett, RDN, LDN, CLT
A to Zinc Nutrition, LLC
Mushrooms are amazing – both for cooking with and for medicinal use. There are many varieties that have been used for centuries around the globe for supporting health. Modern research shows that these ancient mushrooms do indeed provide a rich source of nutrients and other bioactive compounds. These components have several health benefits but most importantly, they support the immune system.
Mushrooms are a great source of fiber, protein, selenium, and potassium as well as B vitamins, and vitamins C, D, and E. But what makes them really powerful in supporting the immune system are bioactive compounds such as alkaloids, flavonoids, terpenes, phenolic compounds, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and polysaccharides. Specifically, the β-glucan polysaccharide found in mushrooms is especially immune stimulating.
Mushrooms can be consumed in a variety of ways. A favorite method is through cooking. Mushrooms are a welcome addition to stir-frys, soups, stews, casseroles, egg dishes, and much more. They add a lovely texture, color, and flavor that no other fruit or vegetable provides.
A favorite method of consumption at A to Zinc Nutrition is to get them from our coffee. Alphay, a well-known medicinal mushroom farming and formulating company, provides a high-quality instant coffee with a good dosing of dehydrated medicinal mushrooms in its formula. The mushrooms in the coffee enrich the coffee flavor and experience but in such a way that you would never guess there were mushrooms in it. This provides an avenue of delivery that is flavorful and enjoyable, and without the hassle of taking a supplement.
Dietary supplements, found in powder, capsule, or liquid extract form, offer the best way to take concentrated doses of medicinal mushrooms. It would be difficult to eat very large quantities of mushrooms or drink massive quantities of coffee to target very specific ailments. The therapeutic properties of mushrooms include: anti-bacterial, anti-cancer, anti-viral, anti-tumor, and anti-inflammatory just to name a few.
The top 8 mushrooms that are most effective for immune support include: chaga, cordyceps, Lion’s Mane, maitake, oyster, reishi, shiitaki, and turkey tail.
For more information or assistance with understanding how medicinal mushrooms can support your health, contact your health care provider or dietitian.