Mushrooms are fungi that grows and lives in the soil. Although mushrooms are often classified as a vegetable, they are actually fungi. There are over 2,000 types of edible mushrooms that come in different shapes, sizes, and colors.
Mushrooms are a delicious addition to many dishes and provide numerous health and nutritional benefits. They have been used as medicine for thousands of years in some countries, particularly in China and Japan.
Countless scientific studies have revealed that mushrooms can be useful in preventing and treating serious health conditions and improving overall health. In fact, research has identified more than 200 conditions that may benefit from mushroom consumption.
Nutritional Value of Mushrooms
Mushrooms are low in fat and rich in many important nutrients, including fiber, protein, vitamin D, calcium, copper, iron, and selenium.
Mushrooms also contain ergothioneine, a naturally occurring antioxidant that provide protection from free radicals as well as boosting the immune system.
Here are the nutrition facts for one cup (96 grams) of raw, white mushrooms :
- Calories: 21.1
- Carbohydrates: 3.1 g
- Fat: 0.3 g
- Fiber: 1 g
- Protein: 3 g
- Vitamin D: 6.72 IU
- Calcium: 2.9 mg
- Copper: 0.3 mg
- Iron: 0.5 mg
- Selenium: 8.9 mcg
Health Benefits of Mushrooms
1. Prevent cancer
Mushrooms are very effective in preventing breast and prostate cancer due to the presence of beta-glucans and conjugated linoleic acid, which both have anti-carcinogenic effects.
The beta-glucans inhibit the growth of cancerous cells in cases of prostate cancer, and linoleic acid is particularly helpful in suppressing the harmful effects of excess estrogen, which has been found to reduce the risk of breast cancer in women after menopause.
2. Reduce cholesterol
The high lean protein content in mushrooms helps burn cholesterol when they are digested. Also, mushroom contains fiber and certain enzymes which can help lower cholesterol levels. This in turn helps to prevent various cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke.
3. Control blood sugar
Mushrooms are a low glycemic food as they contain very low levels of carbohydrates. Eating foods with a low GI may help to control blood sugar levels and lower the likelihood of getting type 2 diabetes.
Moreover, mushroom contains certain compounds which help proper functioning of the liver, pancreas and other endocrine glands, thereby promoting the formation of insulin throughout the body.
4. Boost immune system
Mushrooms contain natural antibiotics like polysaccharides and beta-glucans that can stimulate and regulate the body’s immune system. Additionally, some studies have shown that a powerful antioxidant called ergothioneine found in mushrooms can boost the immune system and provide protection from free radicals .
5. Support bone health
Mushroom contains calcium which is very vital for bone health and when supplied in sufficient amounts, it helps reduce the risk of bone fracture. This fungus also contains an excellent source of vitamin D, which helps in calcium absorption. This drastically reduces the chance of developing osteoporosis.
6. Treat anemia
Mushrooms are a good source of iron, and over 90% of the nutritive iron value can be absorbed by the body, which promotes the formation of red blood cells, thereby helping to treat iron deficiency anemia.
7. Weight loss
Mushroom is one of the best foods to eat if you’re looking to lose weight. A 2013 study published in the journal Appetite found that swapping red meat for mushrooms helped obese participants decrease calorie and fat intake, leading to a 7-pound weight loss over the course of a year .
8. Maintain healthy hair
Mushrooms contain protein, copper, and selenium, all of which are necessary for healthy hair growth. Moreover, mushroom is rich in iron, which plays an important role in the formation of red blood cells, thus strengthening your hair and preventing hair loss.
9. Good for the skin
The selenium in mushroom may also help to maintain a healthy skin. This mineral improves the skin texture and elasticity, thus can help maintain a young, soft and radiant skin.
How to Select and Store Mushrooms
When choosing mushrooms, look for ones that are firm to the touch, smooth texture, and are mold-free. Avoid any wet or slimy spots and those with wrinkles.
Store mushrooms in the refrigerator in a paper bag or wrap them with a damp cloth. This allows them to breathe so they stay firm longer. Do not store them in a plastic bag as this produces condensation and causes mushrooms to deteriorate quickly. Brush the dirt off and rinse them lightly when you’re ready to use them.