What’s the smallest room in the world? A mushroom! Yet within one of these tiny rooms is a giant-sized serving of health. Whether it’s the usual white button variety most often sold in supermarkets, or shiitake, crimini, oyster…each and every mushroom packs a plethora of good, wholesome nutrients essential to your health.
Los Angeles, home to so many types of Asian food and alternative forms of healing, is no stranger to the uses of these edible fungi. Go to Koreatown, Little Tokyo or Chinatown–you will be hard-pressed to make a choice between any of the numerous businesses available, selling dried mushrooms for medicinal purposes.
Shiitake, for the most part, is considered extremely important when it comes to fighting or warding off cancer. It not only is able to strengthen your immune system, what with its variety of minerals like manganese, magnesium, potassium, copper, selenium, and phosphorus (common to all mushrooms), it is well-known for having a unique ability to lower both the risk of cancer and reduce effects of radiation. With shiitake’s combination of B-vitamins, Vitamin D, and fiber as well, this little fungus is valuable in the quest for longevity and overall health improvement.
Mushrooms, generally speaking, also are important when it comes to reducing cholesterol. They can be used (according to Traditional Chinese Medicine) for combatting heart disease, thanks to that fact. Oyster mushrooms, closer to home, have been found to contain a natural source of lovastatin, a pharmaceutical drug often given to those with high LDL cholesterol. (See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000877/.)
Maitake mushrooms, not as common in our neck of the woods as in Asia, are considered even more powerful. These ‘shrooms are definitely not for slicing up on your pizza. They are used medicinally in Japan, for instance, in the efforts to control/lower hypertension as well as in reducing size of cancerous tumors.
Other qualities of mushrooms include a lowering effect on blood glucose, anti-inflammatory properties, and anti-viral, anti-biotic action. Considering that penicillin is another form of fungus, albeit not a mushroom, some holistic practitioners feel that these parasitic plants have a relationship of holding such medicinal benefits as a group.
For more information, including nutritional statistics, on mushrooms, see: http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=122