Sure, morels are tasty and can be great spring fun for the family, but are they actually good for you? While morels would almost never make up a large part of your diet, it turns out that consuming these delectable hidden gems does comes with a host of benefits, especially if you don’t happen to consume any other mushrooms. Here are five ways that eating morels can potentially keep you in tip-top shape.

Iron

Do you get enough iron in your food? About three million Americans suffer from iron deficiency, which happens to be the most common nutritional deficiency in the world. Untreated, it could lead to anemia, chronic fatigue, dizziness, hair loss, irritability, and a number of other symptoms.

One of the most common sources of iron is meat, but there are other alternatives, and in a pinch morels can provide a suitable amount of iron.

For men, just 1 standard cup of raw morels will provide up to 100 percent of your recommended iron requirement. The same amount will provide roughly 46 percent of the daily recommended iron intake for women. Iron helps metabolize protein as well as the production of hemoglobin and red blood cells. In addition, it wards off fatigue.

Vitamin D

Morels are one of the best sources for vitamin D among mushrooms, and provides about 22 percent of your daily recommended intake in just one cup. Of course, vitamin D is most commonly absorbed through sunlight and is important for the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. Consuming the recommended amount of vitamin D will also help reduce symptoms of certain types of cancer, type 1 diabetes, or even multiple sclerosis.

Antioxidants

We often hear a lot about antioxidants and how they’re good for us, but what do they really do? In a nutshell, antioxidants can delay or outright prevent some types of cell damage, and they are commonly found in many fruits and vegetables. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants—but not too much—can have a host of beneficial effects, although it is not yet very well understood how these effects come about. Antioxidants have been demonstrated to improve health in many ways, such as boosting your immune system, but experts now say that the disease-preventing aspects may have been overexaggerated.

That being said, antioxidants are still part of a balanced diet, and morels are quite rich in them.

Boosting your immune system

According to Edible Wild Mushrooms of Illinois and Surrounding States by Joe McFarland and Gregory M. Mueller, eating morels may stimulate your immune system. That is because common morels contain an unique polysaccharide called galactomannan, and despite its weird name, it can help give your natural defenses a kick in the pants. What it essentially does is trigger a response from your immune system, kind of like a vaccine. Since morels produce a lot of galactomannan, it can really add up.

B vitamins

B vitamins are essential nutrients that do everything from keeping us energized, keeping your skin and hair healthy, and even preventing certain types of memory loss. Most B vitamins are easy enough to find—they’re fairly abundant in meat, eggs, fish, fortified cereals, veggies, and some fruit. Luckily for you, morels are also fairly abundant with these nutrients. You may not want to skip your supplements, but these tasty mushrooms can definitely give you a much-needed boost.

Image from Mary Smiley on the Wikimedia Commons

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