Mushrooms come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. Although they are a proud member of the fungi family, they’re actually categorized as a vegetable by various food cultures. Mushrooms are fungi that produce spores, similar to pollen or seeds, which allows them to be spread by the wind. Once attached to the base, the mushroom matures, typically living in soil or wood. Mushrooms are notoriously well known for their toxic nature. The ones that aren’t toxic also happen to be quite healthy and tasty, so much so that some food curators consider mushroom as the superfood. They have a unique flavor that allows different cultures’ cuisines worldwide to flavor in lots of dishes without extra sodium or fat.
All types of edible mushrooms contain varying degrees of protein and fibre and are packed with various other nutrients. They also contain Vitamin B and Vitamin D in some species. The powerful antioxidant called selenium is an integral part of mushroom constituents and helps to support the immune system while preventing damage to cells and tissues. White button mushrooms, in particular, are one of the few non-animal sources of Vitamin D. Mushrooms are being increasingly researched and used for their important health benefits and numerous medicinal properties.
Since mushrooms are fungi and not plants, they are opposite, in some way, of a vegetable’s nature. Cooking certain types of green veggies reduces the amount of nutrients in them. Mushrooms, however, have thick cell walls which break down during the cooking process, thus unlocking hidden nutrient potential. It also prevents the outer pollutants and other harmful substances that make way inside the highly absorbent surface of the mushroom. Different types of mushrooms have different flavors and have different preparation techniques. For example, enoki mushrooms have a sweet, fruity flavour that works well chopped into a salad and can be eaten raw. The chanterelles, on the other hand, have a woody taste that just cannot be consumed without cooking them first. Portobello mushrooms, meanwhile, are so substantial that you can quite easily use them as a meat substitute for grilling or stuffing.
As mentioned earlier, mushrooms have a great deal of nutritional value and are full of micronutrients. Here are reasons why mushrooms are the next superfood and the future of food change!
- Mushrooms contain a powerful micronutrient called ergothioneine at a high concentration. Ergothioneine is an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Mushrooms cells have high levels of polyphenols that give them a higher antioxidant level than green pepper and zucchini.
- Dietary fiber chitin found in mushrooms increase satiety and reduce appetite, aiding in healthy weight management.
- Mushrooms are rich in the antioxidant called selenium, protecting against damage from aging while boosting the immune system.
- Mushrooms are low in carbohydrates and high in fiber.
- Mushrooms are good sources of B-Vitamins like riboflavin (vitamin B2), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), thiamine (vitamin B1), folate (vitamin B9) and niacin (vitamin B3).
- All kinds of Vitamin B, especially folic acid, helps in boosting fetal health and promotes healthy brain function.
- They are a good source of iron and are naturally low in sodium.
- Mushrooms are a rich source of potassium. In fact, 3 ounces of Portobello Mushrooms contain more potassium than a banana.
- Mushroom compounds unlocked by well cooking techniques are known to have anti-carcinogenic properties.
- Shiitake mushrooms are believed to have the most effective beta glucans amongst all food supplements. Beta glucan is a soluble dietary fiber that is known to improve cholesterol levels and boost heart health.
- Mushroom is a good source of copper. Copper helps the body in the production of red blood cells. Red blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygen throughout the body.
- Copper is also responsible for maintaining bone and nerve health.
- Mushrooms also contains choline. Choline is an important nutrient that helps with healthy sleep, improved muscle movement, enhanced learning abilities, and strong memory.
- Choline assists in maintaining the structure of cellular membranes, prevents cellular damage, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, supports proper fat absorption and reduces chronic inflammation.
Mushrooms are incredibly versatile and an integral part of the food world. They can be prepared in many ways and paired with tons of different ingredients to create great dishes for the diverse palate. So, if eating mushrooms is not on your menu, then it is definitely something worth exploring.