Mushrooms: The Healing Fungus

Monday, January 21, 2013 @ 07:01 AM Bree West
Mushrooms: The Healing Fungus 4.89/5 (97.71%) 35 votes

Mushrooms come in many shapes and sizes and include such types as button mushrooms—which include white mushrooms, crimini mushrooms, and portobello mushrooms—and shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms. The white button mushroom is the most common type used today and has a mild flavor; the crimini mushroom is coffee colored and has a stronger flavor; and the portobello mushroom is much larger in size and has more of a meaty flavor, which is why it’s a common substitution used by vegetarians. The shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms are becoming well known for their great health and healing abilities.

Mushrooms have many phytochemicals, which science shows provide amazing anti-cancer benefits. Particularly, mushrooms have polysaccharides and beta-glucans, which are believed to help prevent and treat cancer and to aid the immune system. While all mushrooms contain these compounds, they are highest in shiitake, maitake, and resihi mushrooms.

Shiitake mushrooms have lentinan which greatly helps strengthen the immune system’s ability to fight infection and disease. It also has anti-cancer abilities, and it helps to prevent some of the damage that occurs from anti-cancer drugs. Shiitake mushrooms also have eritadenine which helps to lower cholesterol, and enzymes and vitamins that are not normally found in plants, such as eight of the essential amino acids, including linoleic acid.

Reishi mushrooms have high levels of antioxidants, help to treat viral infections such as hepatitis B, and have been shown to help reduce stress. Mushrooms are actually approved by the Japanese government for cancer treatments, as Japanese studies have shown that mushroom extracts can shrink tumors and, together with chemotherapy, the effectiveness of the cancer treatment is higher. Maitake in particular is beneficial for counteracting the negative side effects of radiation and chemotherapy, such as fatigue and nausea. So, if you are feeling ill or know someone dealing with cancer, mushrooms are a great help!

White button mushrooms are an excellent source of many minerals, such as selenium, copper, potassium, zinc, niacin, and phytochemicals. They are also an excellent source of the B vitamins, including B12. Shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms are excellent sources of selenium, vitamin C, iron, fiber, and protein.

Try to buy fresh mushrooms as much as possible, and you want them to be firm, plump, and clean. Avoid mushrooms that are wet, slimy, or wrinkled. When it comes to button mushrooms, darkening is a sign of a mushroom’s age, so choose the mushrooms that are the lightest in color. In general, white button mushrooms should be white, while the crimini and portobello can be tan. Mushrooms are best stored loosely in a closed brown paper bag and kept in the refrigerator.

Happy Dancing Mushroom Soup!


  • 2 small onions; I prefer yellow (or one large – this is yours to choose… choose, and perish!), chopped, sliced, or otherwise rendered into small bits
  • 1 (one) 3.5 oz. container of shitake mushrooms, de-stemmed, fatly sliced
  • 2 (two) 8 oz. container of baby portobella mushrooms, also fatly sliced – your choice about the stems on these, I’m pro leaving them in, but shitake stems are unbearable
  • 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. dried dill
  • 2 tsp. salt-free lemon pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups stock (I like Imagine Organic un-chicken broth, or Rapunzel makes several flavors of vegan bouillon cubes, one of which nicely flavors two cups of water, but then you need a second pot…)
  • 3 cups unsweetened plain almond milk (the very best one is Blue Diamond, and for this recipe original flavor as opposed to vanilla, fo sho.)

Get the directions at New York In Green

Bree West

About Bree West

Bree West is a holistic nutrition and exercise specialist who is exceptionally passionate about what she does! She obtained a B.S. in Exercise Science from Brigham Young University as well as a B.S. in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College. Additionally, she spent several months interning in L.A. with Athlete’s Performance (now EXOS) gaining valuable experience training athletes of all ages and sports, as well as learning how to treat and prevent pain and injuries. Bree also holds various certifications, including NASM CPT. Her main interest is combining true nutrition with proper exercise to not only help others achieve their fitness goals, but to reach and maintain optimal health! She specializes in functional strength training, athletic performance enhancement, fat loss, natural and sports nutrition (emphasizing clean, wholesome, real foods eating), injury prevention, and corporate wellness. She loves training the athlete in YOU!

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