22/08/2018 | Tamara Brown
As a vegan, mushrooms are a highly beneficial addition to my meals. Eating them in risotto just makes them even more awesome!
For the 'rice'
A word from The Raw Food Girl
Did you know that mushrooms aren't really classified as a vegetable? They are actually a fungus, which sounds kind of gross. Don't be put off though, because mushrooms contain several very important nutrients.
Vegans are recommended to eat mushrooms because they are super high in both protein and minerals such as niacin, potassium, copper, and selenium. These minerals are absolutely essential, not just for vegans and vegetarians but for everyone.
Potassium is pretty awesome because it nourishes your body with electrolytes, as well as improving muscle function and lowering blood pressure (1). Us humans used to consume a diet rich in potassium, but with the consumption of processed food on the rise combined with a reduction in how much fruit and vegetables we eat, there has been a large decrease in potassium resulting in 98% of the U.S. population now being potassium deficient (2).
Potassium is abundant in not just mushrooms, but leafy green vegetables, avocados and bananas, so aim to have a few serves of these kinds of foods every day.
On to selenium.
Selenium is a trace mineral found naturally in the soil that also appears in certain foods and there are even small amounts in water (3). We need selenium to help produce antioxidants and reduce inflammation in the body, both of which are essential in disease prevention (4). Selenium is able to play such a protective role in the body because it increases antioxidant capabilities and the quality of blood flow, which is why it is such an important mineral for disease prevention. We totally need it!
Brazil nuts and sunflower seeds are also both good sources of selenium, if you're not into having mushrooms every day.
Let's talk niacin.
Niacin (also known as vitamin B3) is super important because every part of your body needs it to function properly. It helps your body’s digestive system, skin, and brain function properly and since your body doesn’t store niacin very well, it's important to consume it on a daily basis.
We need niacin to help enzymes do their job properly, by helping to convert food into energy. If you're feeling super tired, depressed or confused, it could mean a deficiency of B vitamins.
Supplementation for niacin shouldn't really be necessary if you are consuming a diet rich in whole foods, but if you are having any of these symptoms I'd get your levels checked.
I bump up my intake of plant nutrients by taking Juice Plus, a supplement made of raw, dehydrated fruits and vegetables. Studies show that taking Juice Plus every day can help to improve heart health, boost the immune system, reduce oxidative stress and boost DNA function (5). It's awesome.
Every other nutrient we can get sufficient amounts of through consuming large quantities of plant food, as long as our system is absorbing it. Have you ever hear of the saying "You are what you absorb"? When the digestive system is weak, we're not going to absorb all the good stuff we put into our tummies. If this is the case, further supplementation may be required along with a good probiotic to help improve gut health.
Mushrooms contain some of the most potent natural medicines on the planet which help support gut health. But they also absorb and concentrate whatever they grow in — good OR bad (5). Heavy metals, air pollutants and pesticides can soak into the mushroom, making a thoroughly unwelcome addition to what seemed like a healthy meal. So buy organic whenever possible.