Mushrooms serve both culinary and medicinal purposes. Since ancient times, civilizations have believed in the healing power of mushrooms. Yet, many people today may not realize the health benefits of eating them. Nutrition experts do not praise these fungi to the same extent that they encourage us to eat tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, and various other colorful “superfoods.”
The mushroom is considered a vegetable, despite being classified as a fungi and not a plant. But they’re not relied on as a staple in our diets, perhaps because of the misnomer that they’re dirty or poisonous. Another reason might be that most of them have a somewhat bland flavor when eaten on their own.
Keep in mind that not all mushrooms are edible!
In fact, some are poisonous or likely to cause an allergic reaction. So, buy them at the store rather than picking them outdoors.
The Top 9 Health Benefits of Mushrooms
1) Mushrooms are low in calories.
There are approximately 20 calories in a serving of raw white mushrooms. Most types of mushrooms are composed of up to 92 percent water.
2) Mushrooms have anti-inflammatory properties.
A variety of autoimmune disorders can cause inflammation, including rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Any injury can also cause inflammation, which can be relieved by the ergothioneine and selenium in mushrooms.
3) Mushrooms contain 15 vitamins and minerals, including:
• vitamin D (when grown in sunlight)
4) Mushrooms have anti-aging properties.
Porcini mushrooms, for example, have the highest amounts of the antioxidant compounds ergothioneine and glutathione. Research shows that these two antioxidants are associated with lower instances of neurodegenerative diseases.
5) Mushrooms are a low-carb food.
Recently, there has been consistent data about the benefits of a low-carb diet for weight loss and general health.
6) Mushrooms contain almost no fat or cholesterol.
There are 0.1 grams of fat in a medium, 18-gram mushroom.
7) Mushrooms are a good source of protein.
For those who don’t eat meat, mushrooms are a sensible and tasty beef replacement.
8) Mushrooms boost immunity.
They’re one of the few vegetables containing selenium, which “improves immune response to infection by stimulating the production of killer T-cells.” They also might help the immune system fight cancer cells.
9) Mushrooms can help prevent diabetes.
They contain no carbs, fat, or cholesterol, and they boast several antibiotic properties.
Specific types of mushrooms contain different beneficial ingredients, according to Fresh Plaza:
Button mushrooms contain the most potassium, while the cremini and portobello mushrooms contain the most antioxidant ergothioneine. The oyster mushrooms and shiitakes are the most rich in fibers and the raw maitakes are among the richest in vitamin D.
The Best Ways to Use Mushrooms
Mushrooms are a versatile vegetable, providing several culinary options whether raw or cooked. You can buy them whole, sliced, fresh or frozen. It’s important to clean them before using them since they grow in soil. To avoid damaging the outside, use a soft damp cloth or paper towel to wipe the dirt off gently. If they’re very dirty, you could rinse them quickly, but don’t submerge them in water.
Your choice of mushroom will depend on your recipe and whether you’re cooking them. Raw white mushrooms, for example, have a crunchy texture, while sauteed or grilled mushrooms have a meatier consistency. Some types must be cooked before they’re eaten.
Use mushrooms as part of a mixed green salad, tossed into a vegetable medley, a healthy soup ingredient, a pizza topping, or stuffed with anything from cheese and breadcrumbs to seafood.
Large portobellos can replace meat, and grilled or sauteed mushrooms are a good accompaniment to chicken and beef. Just be sure to use oil when cooking to prevent them from sticking.
Anyone can develop a taste for mushrooms. Even if you already consider yourself a fan, you might not have realized until now how many nutritious benefits they provide.