The 8 most powerful medicinal mushrooms known today

Mushrooms are not only used as cooking ingredients, but also for their medicinal purposes. At least 270 mushroom species are known to have therapeutic properties. Medicinal mushrooms have been used traditionally for their ability to fight cancer, enhance immunity, and prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and type 2 diabetes – benefits that are heavily supported by scientific studies.

Listed below are eight medicinal mushrooms and how to include them in your diet:

  1. Chaga – Chaga mushrooms are a species of fungus that grows mainly on birch trees in cold northern climates. They look similar to a tree bark. Studies have shown that chaga mushrooms can potentially prevent the growth of liver cancer cells and reduce tumor size. Other studies have revealed that these mushrooms contain compounds that boost the immune system, reduce inflammation, and enhance physical endurance. Brewing chaga mushroom into a tea is the most common way to consume it. Just add around three small chunks of chaga or two teaspoons of chaga powder to two cups of boiling water. Let it steep for about three minutes, then pour into a mug. You can add stevia or raw honey to add sweetness.
  2. Reishi – Native to East Asia, reishi is considered as a natural cancer fighter as it can prevent the spread of cancer cells, boost immune killer cells, and reduce inflammation. It can also reduce the severity of allergic reactions and regulate blood sugar levels. Because of its bitter taste, reishi is most commonly taken in powder or capsule form. (Related: Medicinal mushrooms like reishi, maitake can help fight cancer.)
  3. Lion’s mane – Lion’s mane mushroom looks like the fur around a lion’s head, hence its name. It can be used to boost the immune system, prevent cancer, and ward off depression. It is also good for the brain as it can improve cognition and spatial and visual memory. It can be taken in powder or capsule form or can be added to stir-fry or soup.
  4. Shiitake – Shiitake mushrooms have a smooth, earthy taste which goes well with omelets, stir-fry, stews, casseroles, and salads. Shiitake contains compounds such as b-glucan fiber that help promote satiety and prevent fat gain. Other studies revealed that it can destroy cancer cells, reduce inflammation, and boost immunity.
  5. Cremini – Also known as button mushroom, cremini mushroom fights cancer, but in a manner different from what other medicinal mushrooms exhibit. It contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is a beneficial acid that can suppress tumor growth and boost the immune system to help destroy cancer cells. Moreover, it is rich in antioxidants and selenium, which helps prevent leaky gut. Its antioxidant content also fights oxidative stress, which can impair DNA and cause early aging. The mild flavor and meaty texture of this mushroom make it suitable for any vegetable or meat-based dish.
  6. Chanterelle – This mushroom looks similar to a yellow blooming flower and has a decadent flavor. It is packed with phytochemicals and antioxidants that fight against aging and DNA damage. It also has a potent antimicrobial activity that can help fight bad bacteria and fungi. Sautee it with bacon, olive oil, or any flavorful fat. Add garlic and onion, then puree with broth to make a creamy soup.
  7. Maitake – Found beneath oak and maple trees across North America and Japan, maitake mushroom can also prevent and treat breast cancer and suppress tumor growth. It also improves glucose levels. It can be added to dishes just like cremini and shiitake mushrooms or it can be taken as liquid or capsule supplements.
  8. Enoki – Enoki mushrooms are mildly sweet and crunchy and have long, noodle-like stalks. This mushroom type contains B-vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It contains soluble fiber beta-glucan which can help fight obesity. It can also fight cancer as it boosts immunity and nitric oxide production to kill disease cells. Enoki can be added to noodle soups, salads, and stir-fry.

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