Mushrooms: Nature’s Health Food!

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Those little caps are loaded with natural goodness.

I’ll be the first to admit that mushrooms, on a conceptual level, are kind of creepy. Fungi are microorganisms clumping together in damp places, parasitizing local plant life. It might be due to how many zombie movies I’ve watched, but that just kind of freaks me out. Even so, you can’t deny that mushrooms, mildly creepy as they are, are a great healthy snack.

Freshly picked and cleaned mushrooms (preferably by a licensed mycologist, as this can be a potentially hazardous endeavor) are bursting with vital nutrients like fiber, antioxidants, and plant protein, and they’re even low-calorie to boot. They’re also loaded up with essential minerals like magnesium, copper, phosphorus, and all those other healthy stones your body needs to keep its systems running cleanly.

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Studies show that a diet rich in mushrooms can lead to lowered blood pressure, courtesy of their innate potassium and antioxidants, as well as a boosted immune system. The particular blend of nutrients found in mushrooms are great for the microphages in your bloodstream, enhancing their ability to fight off invading viruses and diseases. Since all these benefits come wrapped up in a low-calorie package, high-mushroom diets also tend to lead to weight loss. Swapping out even part of your red meat consumption with mushrooms can lead to marked improvements in your BMI.

Store-bought mushrooms can be eaten cooked or raw, though the taste may take a bit of acquiring. To speed up the process, you can add mushrooms to lots of tasty foods, from pizza to hearty stews and stir-fries. You can even blend them up and use them as an ingredient in pasta sauces, and many commercial sauces already do this.