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Meet the underdog of the mushroom world

Like marmite you will either love this one or side step right away. They are often seen on decaying wood and they have quite a unique appearance, some may even think that they don't even belong on the fungi world (jaw falls to the ground!)

Our little friend the wood ears are in a league of their own. it took me a little while to make friends with them and they have brought much laughs whilst we work with them - not in the psychedelic way either!

Unlike other mushrooms, wood ear mushrooms don’t have a stem or cap. They do have an ear-like shape, which is how they originally earned their distinct nickname

Wood ears are a jelly fungus that grows on dead wood, especially Elder. In wet weather they look like a brown membranous ear hanging from the tree. When it is dry they shrivel up into a small black lump like a hard dry raisin. They change from one state to the other as the weather changes and are known as resurrection fungi. They can be found all year, whenever there is heavy rain, but are less common in the summer.

Wood ears aka jelly ears

In Europe, the wood ear is first mentioned by 16th-century healer John Gerard who used it to treat sore throat. 17th-century Thomas Thorne considered it “famous medicine in quinsies, sore throats, and strangulations.” Carl Linnaeus mentions the wood ear in his 1753 work, claiming that it is used to treat eye disease, inflammation, and heartaches. So they have been around for quite some time!

So why are they such a powerhouse?

Wood ear mushrooms are known for being low in fat and calories but rich in protein and other nutrients. A wood ear mushroom is a particularly good source of the B vitamins.

One hundred grams of raw wood ear mushroom has:

7 percent of your daily value (DV) for vitamin B1 (thiamin)

16 percent of your DV for vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

40 percent of your DV for vitamin B5

6 percent of your DV for vitamin B6

5 percent of your DV for vitamin B9 (folate)

Wood ear mushrooms also contain a variety of minerals. Every 100 grams of wood ears contains:

32 percent of your DV for copper

5 percent of your DV for iron

8 percent of your DV for magnesium

16 percent of your DV for selenium

6 percent of your DV for zinc

And there is more...!

Not only are they an amazing source of numerous vitamins and vital minerals to support our body to be at its optimal best but they are thought to have the following health benefits.

May Help Fight Cancer Cells

Packed with disease-fighting antioxidants, promising preliminary research suggests that dried wood ear mushroom extract could help fight the growth of cancer cells. One in vitro study conducted by Kyungpook National University in Korea found that wood ear mushroom extract was effective at killing off tumor cells of the lungs, bones and stomach. Keep in mind, though, that more research is needed to evaluate whether wood ear mushrooms may have a beneficial impact on cancer growth in humans as well.

May Support Heart Health

Some studies have found that wood ear fungus could have powerful hypolipidemic properties, which can help keep cholesterol levels in check and protect against heart disease. According to one animal model published in Mycobiology, administering wood ear mushroom extract to mice led to massive reductions in levels of triglycerides, total cholesterol, and bad LDL cholesterol. It also decreased the atherogenic index by 40 percent, which is a measure used to predict the risk of heart disease and plaque buildup in the arteries.

Loaded with Antioxidants

Research shows that wood ear mushrooms are jam-packed with antioxidants and polyphenols. That can have a huge impact on overall health. Antioxidants are compounds that help fight free radical formation and protect cells against oxidative damage. Antioxidants also play a central role in health and disease, with research indicating that they could aid in the prevention of chronic conditions like cancer, heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

Known to block Bacterial Growth

In addition to being a great source of antioxidants and micronutrients, wood ear mushrooms also possess potent antimicrobial properties that can help ward off certain strains of bacteria. A 2015 in vitro study in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms actually found that wood ear mushroom was effective at blocking the growth of Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus, two types of bacteria that can cause infections in humans.

Good Source of Copper

Each serving of wood ear mushrooms packs quite a punch when it comes to nutrition. These small but powerful mushrooms are an especially good source of copper, a micronutrient that is essential to several aspects of health. Not only is copper important for iron metabolism, but it’s also needed for heart health, lung function and more. A deficiency in this key nutrient can have some serious side effects, ranging from diarrhoea and impaired immunity to weakened bones, nerve damage, anemia and heart problems.

So as you can begin to see that this overseen mushroom really is a powerhouse of goodness, additionally wood ear mushrooms are a type of edible mushroom often used to enhance the texture of dishes in many Asian cuisines.

They are available in dried form and can be added to a wide variety of different dishes, including soups, salads, stir-fries and more.

If you are interested in adding in this powerhouse into your daily routine here is the link to grab yourself a bottle

Why not next time you are out and about, keep an eye for the humble wood ears and have a feel of what they are like!!!

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