Mushrooms are one of those foods that people seem to either love or hate. It turns out, mushrooms pack a ton of nutrients that you don’t want to miss — so if you aren’t a fan, it might be worth exploring some of the many different varieties of mushrooms to find one you like. Most popular with Americans are white button, oyster and shiitake.

 

While we don’t recommend picking any old mushrooms outside—some are poisonous, after all—any of the mushrooms you choose from the grocery store will offer awesome nutritional benefits. Whichever type you choose, your body will thank you! Here are some of the surprising health benefits of mushrooms.

 

 

1. Mushrooms have cancer-fighting properties

A study by Experimental Biology and Medicine tested five popular kinds of mushrooms (oyster, white button, portabella—these three you can find in most grocery stores—plus crimini and maitake) and found that they significantly suppressed breast cancer cell growth.

 

2. Mushrooms can boost immunity

Shiitake mushrooms contain lentinan, a type of sugar molecule, which is shown to enhance the immune system. Thanks to the antioxidants found in many types of mushrooms, some people add powdered mushrooms to a daily smoothie or take it in a pill to aid in daily immune support.

 

3. Mushrooms can lower cholesterol

Not only are mushrooms generally cholesterol-free, but they’re also a great source of chitin and beta-glucan, which are fibers that lower cholesterol.

 

4. Mushrooms can lower your blood pressure

Mushrooms offer a ton of potassium (one Portabella mushroom has more potassium than a banana!) and potassium helps reduce the negative effects that sodium can have on your body. According to WebMD, “Potassium also lessens the tension in blood vessels, potentially helping to lower blood pressure.”

 

5. Mushrooms are anti-inflammatory

According to a 2014 study, mushrooms are a natural source of anti-inflammatory compounds that may be useful for medical applications. Is there anything mushrooms can’t do?

Coach Lauren loves to use mushrooms in her plant-based diet. You can eat them in pastas or tacos, use them to add flavor to sauces, or sauté them in some butter and eat them as a side dish.