Mushrooms contain some of the most potent natural medicines on the planet. About 100 species of mushrooms are being studied for their health-promoting benefits. As a defense against bacterial invasion, fungi have developed strong antibodies, which also happen to be effective for us humans. Penicillin, streptomycin, and tetracycline all come from fungal extracts. Mushrooms also provide a number of nutrients. They are a good source of B vitamins, including riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid, which help to provide energy by breaking down proteins, fats and carbohydrates. B vitamins also play an important role in the nervous system.
Mushrooms are the leading source of the essential antioxidant selenium in the produce aisle. Antioxidants, like selenium, protect body cells from damage that might lead to chronic diseases. They help to strengthen the immune system, as well. In addition, mushrooms provide ergothioneine, a naturally occurring antioxidant that may help protect the body’s cells.
Mushrooms are hearty and filling. Preliminary research suggests increasing intake of low-energy-density foods (meaning few calories given the volume of food), specifically mushrooms, in place of high-energy-density foods, like lean ground beef, can be an effective method for reducing daily energy and fat intake while still feeling full and satiated after the meal.
Nutritional information courtesy mushroominfo.com in association with mushroomcouncil.org.
The largest living organism ever found is a honey mushroom, Armillaria ostoyae. It covers 3.4 square miles of land in the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon, and it's still growing!