September 29th marks World Heart Day and with it comes not only a responsibility to create awareness, but also a responsibility to live a healthier lifestyle. Heart health has a lot to do with positive lifestyle choices, including exercise, reducing stress and managing weight with a healthy diet.
I am a firm believer in the benefits of mushrooms, having done a lot of research on the topic for numerous articles like this one, and this one, and this one. Therefore, it should come as no surprise when I encourage you to buy (and eat) more mushrooms. You can even get them in cute pink punnets this October, with it being SAMFA’s Power of Pink month in collaboration with Pick ‘n Pay. (The campaign is in support of Reach4Recovery and the wonderful work they do when it comes to patients struggling with breast cancer.)
Back to World Heart Day, though. Apart from being low in calories, mushrooms also taste great when prepared in the right way, while simultaneously serving as a cornerstone for heart-conscious eating habits. But, there are numerous other benefits too.
Benefits of mushrooms for your heart
- A study reviewed in Phytotherapy Research concluded that adding edible mushrooms into your diet could help to lower your blood pressure levels.
- A research paper by Keith R Martin from the Healthy Lifestyles Research Center, College of Nursing and Health Innovation at Arizona State University was published in Nutrition Journal. The 2010 research found that “dietary mushrooms can be protective against cardiovascular disease (CVD).” With it being World Heart Day, it can’t get any clearer.
- Since mushrooms contain vintamins C and D, it’s further proof that they are great for your heart. These vitamins have long been known to be associated with good cardiovascular health, as well as a unique heart-healthy type of fibre and potassium. According to Medical News Today, “there is some evidence that consuming a type of fibre called beta-glucans may lower blood cholesterol levels. [And these] beta-glucans occur in the cell walls of many types of mushrooms.” Further to this, the journal also states that potassium can assist in regulating blood pressure, which in turn could decrease the risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
That said, how about a mushroom-inspired dish on World Heart Day? Here is a lovely recipe, courtesy of the South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association, with all the goodness you can get:
Artichoke and White Button Mushroom Salad for World Heart Day
500 g white button mushrooms
60 ml apple cider vinegar
60 ml olive oil
¼ red onion, finely diced
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
Handful fresh coriander
200 g feta cheese
1 Mediterranean cucumber
100 g radish
1 tin artichoke hearts
80 g mixed baby leaves
Handful pumpkin seeds
Slice button mushrooms into quarters and place in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle the mushrooms with the vinegar, olive oil, chilli, oregano and a good amount of salt and pepper. Roughly chop the coriander and add that along with the red onion to the bowl. Toss well and set aside.
Using a mandolin (or very sharp knife) slice ribbons of cucumber and thin rounds of radish.
Drain the artichoke hearts.
Add the cucumber ribbons, radish and artichoke hearts to the large bowl of marinating mushrooms. Give everything a gentle toss.
Arrange baby leaves in a large, shallow salad bowl. Top with the dressed mushroom and veggie mix.
Finally, crumble over the feta and finish with pumpkin seeds for crunch.
Throughout the month of October, fresh mushrooms are sold in pink punnets at Pick ‘n Pay stores. R1 from each punnet sold will go to Reach4Recovery to provide breast prostheses to cancer survivors who can’t afford them.