This type of mushroom grows all around the world. It can be found on wood in cool temperatures, usually around early spring or late fall. In some cases, it is confused with other species, but most wood ear mushrooms lookalikes are actually edible as well. You can find the wood ear mushroom in many specialty stores and online retailers. The wood ear mushroom is a tasty and unique type of edible fungi which go by a number of different names, such as jelly ear mushroom.
The scientific name of wood ear mushroom is Auriculariaauricula – judge. The wood ear mushroom is an ingredient in many stir-fries and soups. It has a crumbly, chic texture to meals, but also, it is filled with an assortment of important nutrients and antioxidants. The wood ear mushroom has a crunchy texture, dark color, and interesting appearance. It does not have a stem or cap. It has an ear-like shape which is a reason why they have this nickname. The wood ear mushroom is rich in many important vitamins and minerals.
In each serving, there is a low amount of calories, but it is packed with riboflavin, selenium, copper, and pantothenic acid. For most people, wood ear mushrooms can be a safe and healthy addition to the diet. But, it is important to practice food safety and clean mushrooms thoroughly prior to consumption.
People, who have an allergy, should not consume wood ear mushrooms, so they will avoid food allergy symptoms, like hives, swelling, itching, and nausea. If you take blood thinners, talk with your doctor before you use wood ear mushrooms in your diet.
Here are some health benefits of wood ear mushrooms:
Good source of copper:
In each serving of wood ear mushroom, there is a lot of nutrition. These are small, but powerful mushrooms, which are especially rich in copper. Copper is a micronutrient that is essential to several aspects of health. It is important for iron metabolism and it is needed for heart health, lung function, and more. The deficiency in this key nutrient can have some serious side effects, ranging from diarrhea and impaired immunity to weakened bones, nerve damage, anemia, and heart problems.
Block bacterial growth:
The wood ear mushroom is a great source of antioxidants and micronutrients. Also, it has antimicrobial properties which can help to ward off certain strains of bacteria. In one in vitro study done in 2015 was found that the wood ear mushroom is effective at blocking the growth of Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli, which are two kinds of bacteria that can lead to infections in people.
Loaded with antioxidants:
In some studies are found that wood ear mushroom is rich in antioxidants and polyphenols. These components can have a huge impact on overall health. We know that antioxidants can help in the fight against the free radical formation and they can protect cells against oxidative damage. Also, antioxidants play a central role in health and disease. Many studies have said that they could aid in the prevention of chronic conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, and cancer.
Supports heart health:
In some studies are found that wood ear mushrooms can have a powerful hypolipidemic property, which can help to keep cholesterol levels in check and protect against heart disease. In one animal model was given wood ear mushroom to mice and it was noticed massive reductions in the levels of triglycerides, total cholesterol, and bad cholesterol. Also, it can help to decrease the atherogenic index by 40%, which is a measure used to predict the risk of heart disease and plaque buildup in the arteries.
May help fight cancer cells:
The wood ear mushroom is packed with disease-fighting antioxidants. So, this suggests that the dried wood ear mushroom extract can help to fight against the growth of cancer cells. One in vitro study done in Korea was found that the wood ear mushroom extract is effective in killing off tumor cells of the stomach, bones, and lungs. You should remember that a lot more studies need to be done to evaluate whether wood ear mushrooms may have a beneficial impact on cancer growth in humans as well.