Ah the mushroom. The squishy, versatile, supposedly good-for-you ingredient that you ought to be having more off. But mushrooms are like marmite – you either love them or you hate them! Not to mention their classification as a fungus makes them sound all the more unappetising. But mushrooms should be a revered ingredient for those of us looking to reverse the clock on our skin with our diet. Their use in medicine dates back to our Greek ancestors where they were used in everything from wound healing to treating liver disease.
Their application in today’s anti-aging efforts have been extensively researched and proven with modern science incorporating mushroom extracts in everything from supplements to skincare. But what makes mushrooms no less than a superfood?
The Anti-Aging Properties of Mushrooms
They are packed with fibre, protein and trace minerals like phosphorus and selenium that help maintain overall health and wellness all delivered in a low calorie, bite-sized bunch. But mushrooms are a food of many talents! Read on to find out how they can benefit your skin!
Increase Collagen Production
Mushrooms are filled with vitamin D (yes, the same nutrient hidden in the sun’s rays) that has been established to promote collagen production. But unlike the space ridden star, mushrooms don’t deliver an unwanted dose of UV-A radiation that can increase free radicals in the skin that cause collagen degradation. Instead, they are full of antioxidants like selenium that would neutralise free radicals established in the skin from everyday environmental stressors and protect collagen from degradation.
They are also great at reducing inflammation, not just in the skin but throughout your body too. A major cause of joint pain in aging individuals was found to be inflammation around the joints. Incorporating more anti-inflammatory foods such as mushrooms would reduce the number of inflammatory cells and markers in your body and could help alleviate inflammatory conditions such as acne and arthritis.
Ever cooked your mushrooms down in a pan and thought where’d the hell they’d gone? That’s because mushrooms hold a lot of water which, when cooked at high heats, can evaporate away. This nutrient filled water however, can be particularly nourishing to your skin! In addition, white button and tremella mushrooms have a polysaccharide in them that can help your skin hold more water which is important as 60% of a collagen molecule is made up of water, not to mention that reactions involving collagen production occur in water – moral of the story – save the water content of mushrooms.
Cook the mushrooms slowly at a low heat to maintain their water content. Cooking at lower heat will also help preserve the other antioxidants and vitamins found in them too!
Button (crimini) mushrooms (most commonly found and eaten in the UK) boast most, if not all, of these benefits but its important to keep your diet, and the mushroom content of said diet, varied, to reap all their incredible benefits!
And if after reading this you’re thinking I want to benefit from mushrooms but can’t stand the taste or texture of them, don’t worry I’ve got a solution for that too – incorporate them into a soup!
Not only are soups incredibly easy to make (I’m a huge fan of one pot, minimal dish washing recipes), they can be made up of different combinations of veggies, herbs and spices so you can really make it your own. If you want to try my version of vegan mushroom soup, follow the recipe below!
Creamy Vegan Mushroom Soup
For the soup
450g of mushrooms sliced
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cups unsweetened oat cream (feel free to use plant-basedmilk if you can’t find vegan cream)
2 cups vegetable stock (500 ml)
1/2 tbsp ginger, peeled and crushed
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Juice of half a lemon
For the topping:
100g of largely sliced mushrooms
1 tbsp of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1-2 tsp of soy sauce
Add (all but a handful) the mushrooms, ginger, garlic andonions, vegetable stock and cream (or milk) to a large pot and bring to theboil. Then turn down the heat to medium low and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
In a separate pan, add in the olive oil and garlic and cookfor a couple of minutes. Then add in the rest of the mushrooms for the toppingand the soy sauce.
Cook for a few more minutes, tossing occasionally until the mushroomsoften. Take of the heat and keep to the side.
Take it soup off the heat and use an immersion blender to blenduntil smooth. If you’re using a regular blender, wait for the soup to coolslightly before belnding to prevent pressure build up in the blender.
Stir in the lemon juice and black pepper to the soup and transfer to a bowl.
Add the sauteed mushrooms on top and serve hot!
Leftovers can be cooled and transferred to an airtightcontainer and kept in the fridge for up to 4 days.