They may be small, but they’re definitely mighty. Rich in antioxidants and boasting impressive levels of vitamin D, mushrooms can work wonders on lifeless hair, skin and nails - meaning there’s no excuse for not packing as many of them into our diet as we can. With dozens of varieties to choose from, we asked dermatologist Nina Roos and nutritionist Raphaël Gruman to explain why this key ingredient is so important when it comes to healthy skin.
Mushroom for improvement: how do they help keep our skin looking healthy?
It turns out that blueberries aren’t the only ingredient with a reputation for packing a punch when it comes to antioxidants: mushrooms are also rich in these powerful molecules, which fight the spread of free radicals by slowing down the oxidization process. Result? Plumper, younger-looking skin that’s less visibly affected by external aggressor damage. Dermatologist Dr. Nina Roos explains that the high levels of vitamin D found in mushrooms are a key factor in making up our hair, skin and nails, adding that it’s important to include them as part of a balanced diet. If you’re not quite ready to go full-on raw, Nina recommends eggs, milk and oily fish when it comes to other foods boasting similar levels of vitamin D. If you’re looking to get your glow back, a mushroom omelette is the (quick and easy) way to go, with shiitakes, chanterelles and the lesser-known maitake mushroom particularly high in vitamin D. Minimal effort, maximum benefit - we like.
Raw mushrooms: trust us, it’s a good idea
One of nature’s most versatile ingredients, mushrooms can be added to almost every recipe, from steaks to stir-fries to omelettes. Of course, we already know these babies are good cooked - particularly portobello mushrooms, whose vitamin D content is boosted when grilled or roasted - but have you ever considered eating them raw? Don’t judge: according to the experts, pairing your leafy greens with some chopped raw mushrooms and a drizzle of salad dressing (more on that below) is the ideal way to put the vitamin D they contain to work. Nutritionist Raphäel Gruman recommends simply slicing and dicing before adding to a salad in order to preserve the greatest possible amount of vitamins.
Raphaël explains that, as well as being one of the best sources of vitamin D out there, mushrooms’ nutrient content becomes even more effective when combined with foods high in fat. The reason? When it comes to their chemical composition, mushrooms are classed as ‘lipsoluble’. This means that their molecules dissolve when exposed to fat, meaning their vitamins and minerals can be processed more effectively by the body. This fun little fact explains why we’re often advised to prepare mushrooms by gently brushing any dirt off before use, rather than washing them. Thanks to their liposolubility, pairing mushrooms with other ingredients high in fat, such as salmon, or throwing in a salad just before adding a splash of vinaigrette will optimize the benefits vitamin D can bring to your skin, helping you to get the most out of your morels.