Mushrooms are a type of fungi and a versatile food that can be added to a variety of dishes. They can be enjoyed cooked or raw, make a great addition to soups, salads, and stir-fries, and are used in flavouring foods. They have a high nutritional value as they are a good source of protein and fibre. They also contain several important vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, potassium, and selenium. Additionally, mushrooms are a source of antioxidants and polysaccharides, which are believed to have numerous health benefits.
What are the different types of mushrooms?
1. Reishi mushrooms are one of the most popular and well-known mushrooms. They have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries and are known for their immunity-boosting, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties.
2. Cordyceps mushrooms are another type of mushroom with potent health benefits. They are known for their ability to boost energy levels, improve circulation, and fight fatigue.
3. Chaga mushrooms are a type of mushroom that are especially rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. This makes them great for supporting the immune system and protecting against various chronic diseases.
4. Lion’s mane mushrooms are yet another type of mushroom with impressive health benefits. They have been shown to improve cognitive function, boost nerve growth, and fight depression and anxiety.
What is the nutritional value of mushrooms?
Mushrooms are an excellent source of B vitamins, including riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid, which are important for energy metabolism. Mushrooms also contain minerals such as selenium, potassium, and copper.
The nutrient value of 100 g of mushrooms according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is as follows:
Water: 89.2 g
Energy: 33 kcal
Protein: 3.31 g
Carbohydrates: 6.09 g
Fibre: 2.3 g
Sugars: 1.11 g
Magnesium: 18 mg
Phosphorous: 120 mg
Potassium: 420 mg
Sodium: 18 mg
Folate: 38 µg
Choline: 48.7 mg
What are some health benefits of mushrooms?
1. Boosting immunity
Mushrooms are a natural source of antioxidants and polysaccharides, which are believed to boost immunity. Additionally, mushrooms contain a type of protein called lectin, which has been shown to have antiviral and antibacterial properties.
A study published in the journal Nutrients found that consuming mushrooms daily can help increase the production of white blood cells, which are vital to fighting infections.
2. Improving digestion
Mushrooms contain a type of enzyme that can help break down food, making it easier for the body to absorb nutrients. They are a good source of prebiotics, which are a type of dietary fibre that helps promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut.
3. Reducing inflammation
Mushrooms contain a variety of compounds including polysaccharides, terpenoids, and ergothioneine that have been shown to reduce inflammation. They are a good source of antioxidants, which can also help reduce inflammation.
4. Improving brain health
Mushrooms are a good source of antioxidants, which can help improve brain health. There are many compounds in mushrooms that improve brain health, including ergothioneine, hericystin, lentinan, and niacin. These compounds work by protecting the brain from damage, reducing inflammation, and improving blood flow and oxygenation.
How can you eat mushrooms?
Here are some tips on how to incorporate mushrooms into your diet:
1. Start simple: Start by adding mushrooms to simple dishes such as omelettes, salads, and sandwiches.
2. Add stir-fries: Stir fries are a great way to incorporate mushrooms into a meal. Slice mushrooms and add to stir-fries for a delicious and nutritious addition.
3. Try different varieties: There are numerous types of mushrooms, each with its own unique flavour. Experiment with different varieties to find the ones you like best.
4. Roast them: Roasted mushrooms are a delicious and easy side dish. To roast mushrooms, simply put them on a baking tray, add a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes.
5. Make mushroom soup: Mushroom soup is a simple and delicious way to enjoy mushrooms. Simply sauté the mushrooms in butter, add to a pot of stock, and simmer until the mushrooms are tender.
What are the potential side effects of mushrooms?
Although mushrooms are generally considered safe and nutritious, some varieties may cause adverse reactions in some people, and some may even be poisonous.
Some people may be allergic to certain types of mushrooms and may experience an allergic reaction when consuming them. Symptoms of a mushroom allergy may include skin rash, itching, hives, swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat, difficulty breathing, and anaphylaxis. If you experience any of these symptoms after eating mushrooms, seek medical attention immediately.
Certain species of mushrooms contain toxins that may cause gastrointestinal distress if eaten. Symptoms of mushroom poisoning may include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and cramping. In severe cases, liver damage or death may occur. It is important to note that there is no way to tell which mushrooms are poisonous by looking at them. For this reason, it is important to only purchase mushrooms from a trusted source and to cook them thoroughly prior to eating.
Some people may experience digestive distress after consuming mushrooms. This may include bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea. It is thought that mushrooms may cause digestive problems due to their high fibre content or because they contain certain compounds that are not easily digested. If you experience digestive distress after eating mushrooms, try reducing the amount you consume or avoid them altogether.
Interactions with medication
Mushrooms may interact with certain medications. For example, consuming mushrooms with drugs that suppress the immune system may increase the risk of infection. Additionally, mushrooms may interact with certain anticoagulants and interfere with their effectiveness. If you are taking any medications, consult your doctor before consuming mushrooms.
Some tips for buying, cooking, storing mushrooms
1. Buy mushrooms that are firm and dry with no visible spots or discolouration. Avoid any mushrooms that look slimy or have a strong odour.
2. Store mushrooms in a paper bag in the refrigerator. Avoid washing mushrooms until you're ready to use them as they will become slimy if washed too soon.
3. Cook mushrooms quickly to prevent them from becoming slimy. Sauté them in a hot pan with some oil or butter, or roast them in the oven.
4. If not using them right away, preserve cooked mushrooms in an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are mushrooms healthier than meat?
Generally, mushrooms are lower in fat and calories than most meats, but they also contain fewer vitamins and minerals. They can be an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, but it depends on the type of mushroom. Additionally, mushrooms can be a good source of protein, but not as much as meat.
Which are healthier—raw or cooked mushrooms?
Cooked mushrooms are generally considered to be healthier than raw mushrooms.
Which mushrooms have the most protein?
Oyster mushrooms have the most protein.
Are mushrooms easy to digest?
No, mushrooms are heavy to digest.
Are mushrooms good for the skin?
Yes. Mushrooms can be used to treat skin conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis. According to a study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, mushrooms may have benefits for the skin. The study found that a compound in mushrooms called ergothioneine may help protect the skin from damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation.