Mushrooms often appear on lists of most-hated vegetables. Working in the restaurant industry, I got lots of requests to omit them from salads, pizzas and calzones. I guess there’s something about the texture or taste (or both) that turns people off. I wouldn’t know, because I’m a big fan of the friendly fungi. They add a deliciously-earthy flavor to a plethora of dishes, from vegetable stir fry to grilled steak.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
Their flavor is just one reason to love the humble mushroom. For one thing, they’re incredibly easy to grow at home. They can also be used to make lots of inedible things, like packaging and even houses. But for now, let’s focus on what they can do for your health:
1. Weight Loss
Results of a study conducted by the University of Buffalo indicate that consumption of mushrooms could be useful in regulating glucose levels, a benefit that might make it easier to lose weight and exercise longer by controlling blood sugar, especially for women. The study used a Portabella powder, but we’re fairly certain eating them whole works just as well.
2. Nutrient Absorption
Vitamin D is vital for many aspects of human health, and supplements just don’t cut it. Mushrooms just happen to be one of the few vegetables considered to be a good source of edible Vitamin D. “This essential vitamin can facilitate the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorous,” explains Organic Facts.
3. Stronger Bones
In addition to Vitamin D (which is good for bones) mushrooms also contain calcium (the very nutrient that Vitamin D helps you to absorb). This serendipitous occurrence just increases the benefits for your bones. Eating adequate amounts of calcium has been shown to reduce joint pain, lack of mobility and even osteoporosis risk.
4. Diabetes Management
Between the obesity epidemic and the proliferation of food deserts, it’s no wonder that diabetes rates have skyrocketed. Mushrooms are considered a good tool for dietary management of this condition, as they contain natural insulin and enzymes which help the body break down sugar and starch in other foods.
5. Immune Health
As we’ve mentioned many times before, food–not pills–is your best chance for a strong immune system and overall health. Long before we had the word “superfood,” humans were reaping the immune benefits of eating mushrooms. As one of the highest antioxidant foods in the world, it’s no surprised that mushrooms have been found to stimulate and regulate the body’s immune system. Research also indicates that mushrooms can help reduce risk of breast and prostate cancer, two of the most common kinds.
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They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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