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4 Surprising Effects of Consuming Mushrooms, According to Science

If you haven't hopped aboard already, it's time to be a part of the 'shroom caboose. "Mushrooms are considered by many to be a superfood, and for good reason," says Kristin Gillespie, MS, RD, LD, advisor for Exercisewithstyle.com. "Although they are low in calories, they pack a powerful nutritional punch, containing rich amounts of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Because of their rich nutritional profile, mushrooms are responsible for a variety of health benefits."

Riffing on that, Nicole Stefanow, MS, RDN, a culinary nutritionist from the greater New York City area adds, "If you choose to do one thing for your health today, try including a serving of mushrooms." We agree. And we think we'll start with one of these healthy mushroom recipes for dinner. Below, a deep dive into all the amazing perks of eating mushrooms:

1 Mushrooms are surprisingly rich in vitamin D.

According to one review that looked at data from 2011-2012, 41.6% of adults in the United States are deficient in vitamin D. Yikes! While the best natural source of vitamin D is good ole fashioned sunshine, mushrooms are magic for the essential nutrient: "A recent study conducted in Australia found that mushrooms could provide anywhere from 50-100% of our daily vitamin D needs," says Gillespie. "Vitamin D deficiency, which is very common among Americans, is associated with fatigue, compromised bone health, decreased immune function, and increased risk of continual illness including certain types of cancer. By offering significant amounts of vitamin D, mushrooms can help combat these symptoms associated with a deficiency."

2 They help fill gaps in your diet.

Tasty and nutritious sounds like a win-win to us. "Mushrooms are a great source of many micronutrients that are often under-consumed in the typical U.S. diet," shares Stefanow. "According to a recent study, adding a serving of mushrooms can help you meet your micronutrient requirement without increasing calories, fat, or sodium."

3 They fight inflammation.

Ready to combat inflammation? Bring on the mushrooms. "Mushrooms offer anti-inflammatory properties as well. Mushrooms are rich in selenium, a nutrient that has powerful antioxidant properties that help reduce inflammation," says Gillespie. "Oyster mushrooms, as compared to different mushroom variations, offer further anti-inflammatory properties as a result of their rich beta-glucan content."

4 They support bowel health.

Good gut health is so important to overall health. Thankfully, mushrooms can assist on this front, too. "This may not come as a surprise given their significant fiber content; however, many studies have also demonstrated their effect as powerful prebiotics," says Gillespie. "Prebiotics not only help promote digestion and overall gut health, however they also promote a variety of other health benefits."

They also may help with diabetes. Krissy Carbo RD, MS, CDN, points to this study and this study on shitake mushrooms and diabetes, saying, "Studies have shown shiitake mushrooms to favorably alter gut bacteria to improve the production and release of insulin from your pancreatic beta-cells (a.k.a. the cells responsible for insulin production."

Originally published: Eat This Not That

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