“Why does it look like that?”
“How do you eat something like that?”
“That looks like it tastes nasty.”
“I’ve never seen anything like that before.”
Those are the kinds of statements that you may have said after looking at a new food or dish that you have never tasted or seen before. It’s human nature for us to be skeptical, but it can be good for us to venture outside of comfort zone and try something new once in a while.
That’s where this Lion’s Mane mushroom comes into play. It looks like “Cousin It” from the Addams Family, but trust me when I say it’s good for you.
Lion’s mane mushrooms (Hericium erinaceus) are white, globe-shaped fungi that have long, shaggy spines. Long used in traditional Chinese medicine, lion’s mane is widely available in supplement form. Scientific research shows that lion’s mane contains a number of health-promoting substances, including antioxidants and beta-glucan.
There are three main benefits of this strange-looking fungus.
1. Cuts Heart Disease Risk
Major risk factors for heart disease include obesity, high triglycerides, large amounts of oxidized cholesterol and an increased tendency to get blood clots.
Research shows that lion’s mane extract can influence some of these factors and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Studies in rats and mice have found that lion’s mane mushroom extract improves fat metabolism and lowers triglyceride levels.
One study in rats fed a high-fat diet and given daily doses of lion’s mane extract observed 27% lower triglyceride levels and 42% less weight gain after 28 days.
Since obesity and high triglycerides are both considered risk factors for heart disease, this is one way that lion’s mane mushrooms contribute to heart health.
Test-tube studies have also found that lion’s mane extract can help prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in the bloodstream.
Oxidized cholesterol molecules tend to attach to the walls of arteries, causing them to harden thus increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Therefore, reducing oxidation is beneficial for heart health.
What’s more, lion’s mane mushrooms contain a compound called hericenone B, which can decrease the rate of blood clotting and lower the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Lion’s mane mushrooms appear to benefit the heart and blood vessels in multiple ways, but human studies are needed to support this.
2. Helps fight Cancer
Preliminary research suggests that lion’s mane shows promise in protection against cancer. For instance, in a 2011 study published in