Mushrooms have a reputation for being kind of magical, since they've long been used for nutritional, medicinal, and yes, of course, psychedelic purposes.
But the Grateful Dead-style “magic mushrooms” aren't the ones I'm talking about here.
I'm talking about the many different species of mushrooms believed to have endless health benefits.
Unlike many purported superfoods out there, there's plenty of growing research to back up a lot of the claims behind the effectiveness of ingredients found in many species of mushrooms.
Not to overwhelm you, but there are actually 14,000 identified mushroom types; and there are believed to be upwards of 150,000 species in all.
For now, let's just focus on what these babies can do for your body.
1. They Boost Your Immune System
This is one of the most well-known and well-documented benefits of mushrooms.
The research shows this superfood has antiviral properties that help strengthen your immune system over time.
2. They Can Help Fight Off Cancer And Tumors
It is believed that mushrooms have antineoplastic-- aka cancer-cell-killing -- properties that slow the growth of tumors, regulate tumor genes, and boost the effectiveness of chemotherapy.
Given those properties, mushrooms have sometimes been used as a sort of alternative cancer treatment, and there's enough research coming out now that it's becoming more commonly integrated.
3. Mushrooms Can Help You Fight Fatigue
Research has shown -- specifically in patients with breast cancer -- that a supplement of spore powder from reishi mushrooms decreased fatigue related to cancer treatment.
Pretty neat, huh?
4. They Oxygenate Your Blood
This is basically a fancier way of saying mushrooms send more oxygen to your blood, which helps just about everything in your body.
More oxygen in the blood helps your organs function better, it gives you energy, focus, and vitality.
Mushrooms such as the cordyceps fungus are even recommended as a supplement if you need a little boost before a workout.
5. They Can Fight Sleeplessness
While reishi mushrooms were shown to fight fatigue, high levels of vitamin D, selenium, and potassium in other types of mushrooms can help you catch some much-needed Z's.
Plus, since some mushrooms are known to boost energy, that can also help you to expend some of it through exercise, and therefore actually get your body nice and tired before bed.
6. They Reduce Inflammation
The common crimini mushroom is thought to block production of pro-inflammatory molecules in the body.
And trust me, inflammation is not something your body wants to deal with, as it can be a partial cause of diabetes, certain types of cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
7. Mushrooms Make You Happy
Mushrooms like shiitakes are high in B vitamins and ergosterol, which is converted in the sun to vitamin D -- both of which are known to boost your happiness.
So, depending on your desire for a particular reported benefit, be sure to do some research on which particular mushroom might be right for you (for example, shiitakes have different benefits than, say, reishi).
But for now, maybe just stick to easily accessible supplements and cooking the ones you can get in the grocery store.