If you ever played the popular video game, Mario Brothers as a kid, you know about Mario’s quest for mushrooms. They would give him superpowers to continue on his journey.
In real life, mushrooms are a kind of superfood too. With regular consumption, we too can reap the benefits like Mario.
Mushrooms are increasingly becoming popular due to their versatility and powerful health benefits. They pack a nutritious punch. You have to be cautious with mushrooms and only buy from reputed shops as some mushrooms are toxic in nature such as Amanita muscaria.
Why Eat Mushrooms?
- Edible mushrooms are a good source of fiber and unsaturated fatty acids but low in calories.
- They are rich in nutrients such as Vitamin B and minerals like selenium, copper and potassium.
The most common type of mushroom is the cultivated white button mushroom which is widely used as an ingredient in a range of dishes as well as sauces. They also have medicinal properties and have been used in China, Korea and Japan in the treatment of disorders such as allergies, arthritis and bronchitis as well as cancers of the stomach, esophagus and lungs.
Whatever your favourite—crimini, enoki, oyster, portobello, shiitake or white button—all mushrooms are loaded with essential nutrients .
Many varieties of mushrooms contain good-for-your-bladder selenium and, like us, they produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Oyster mushrooms are a good source or iron. Plus, they’re low in calories: Six medium white, for example, have just 22. Here are some of the many health benefits of mushrooms.
Skin Benefits Of Mushroom:
This might appear strange but eating mushrooms can be beneficial for your skin. Mushrooms are rich in Vitamin D, selenium and antioxidants that protect your skin. Mushrooms are now active ingredients in topical creams, serums and facial preparations as their extracts are considered as potent antioxidants and natural moisturizers. Some of the mushroom benefits for skin are given below:
1. Hydrates Skin:
Hyaluronic acid is considered as the body’s internal moisturizer as it plumps up and firms your skin. It reduces age-related wrinkles and fine lines. Mushroom contains a polysaccharide that is equally beneficial in hydrating and providing a plumping effect to your skin. Skin feels smooth and supple.
2. Treatment of Acne:
Mushrooms are high in Vitamin D .This has healing properties when topically applied to acne lesions. Thus, mushroom extracts are often used in skincare products meant for treating acne.
3. Natural Skin Lightener:
Some mushrooms contain kojic acid which is a natural skin lightener. This acid inhibits melanin production on the surface of the skin. This lightens the new skin cells formed after the dead ones are exfoliated. It is a great alternative to toxic chemical lighteners like hydroquinone that carry the risk of causing skin cancer.
4. Anti-ageing Benefits:
Mushrooms possess anti-ageing properties. Kojic acid is often used in creams, lotions and serums as a remedy for signs of ageing such as liver spots, age spots, discoloration and uneven skin tone caused by photo damage. Mushrooms enhance the natural defenses of the skin and improve its appearance by making it healthy.
5. Skin Protection:
Skin problems are mostly caused by inflammation and excessive free radical activity. Mushrooms contain antioxidants as well as compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties. Topical use of these natural compounds promotes healing and fights inflammation. Mushroom extracts are often used in skin products for treating skin conditions like eczema, rosacea and acne.
Hair Benefits Of Mushroom:
Just like the rest of the body, healthy hair too requires the delivery of vital nutrients to the hair follicles. Deficiency of these nutrients as well as external factors like harsh chemical treatments, unhealthy lifestyle and prolonged illness can cause hair problems. Mushrooms are a good source of Vitamin D, antioxidants and minerals like selenium and copper
6. Prevents Hair Loss:
Anaemia is one of the most common causes of hair loss. Anaemia is caused due to the deficiency of iron in the blood. Mushrooms are a good source of iron, can combat hair loss. Iron is a vital mineral as it is involved in the formation of red blood cells, thus strengthening your hair.
7. Benefits from Copper:
Mushroom contains copper which is beneficial for your hair as it facilitates the absorption of iron from food. It is involved in the production of melanin, a pigment that imparts color to your hair. Mushrooms also contain high levels of iron. Copper and iron work together promoting healthy and strong hair.
8. Benefits from Selenium:
Mushroom contains large quantities of selenium which is vital for healthy hair. This nutrient is a powerful antioxidant which rids the body of free radicals and strengthens the immune system. Selenium is mostly found in animal proteins and therefore, mushroom can be a good alternative for vegetarians to obtain this vital trace element. Selenium aids in hair growth as well as prevents dandruff.
Selenium compounds can kill a fungus called Malassezia which is present on the scalp and is responsible for shedding dry skin fragments. Selenium in combination with zinc is effective in preventing hair loss.
Health Benefits Of Mushroom:
Mushroom health benefits include the following:
9. Burns cholesterol:
As mushrooms are full of proteins, fibers, enzymes, and low carbohydrates with zero cholesterol and fats, they can keep you safe from cholesterol by burning it after digestion.
10. Prevents from breast and prostate cancers:
Mushrooms include Beta-Glucans and conjugated Linoleic acid with anti-carcinogens .These help in preventing breast cancer and prostate cancer. Linoleic acid helps in suppressing estrogen in women after menopause to prevent breast cancer while Beta-Glucans helps in preventing prostate cancer. Selenium helps the most in suppressing these cancerous cells.
11. Perfect diet for diabetics:
Mushrooms contain no fat, low carbohydrates, high proteins, enzymes, vitamins, minerals and fibers. Thus it is an ideal diet for diabetics. The natural enzymes in it help in breaking down the sugars and starch. They also improve functioning of the endocrinal glands. Moreover the natural antibiotics in mushrooms help the diabetic people from easily prone infections.
12. Boost your immune system -Helps build immunity:
The combination of vitamins A, B, and C in mushrooms help build good immune system. The strong antibiotics present in them helps to fight against infections. The antioxidant, Ergothioneine protects from free radicals.
A study done on mice and published by the American Society for Nutrition found that white button mushrooms may promote immune function by increasing the production of antiviral and other proteins that are released by cells while they are trying to protect and repair the body’s tissues. A later study showed that these mushrooms promoted the maturation of immune system cells–called dendritic cells–from bone marrow. According to he researchers, this may help enhance the body’s immunity leading to better defence systems against invading microbes.
13. Losing weight:
Everyone knows that to lose fat and cholesterol, you need to burn that extra fat which is ideally used to digest the proteins in your body. While dieting, it is always recommended to take high protein; low carbohydrates and no fat diet which is offered by mushrooms.
14. Increase your vitamin D
Mushroom is the only vegetable which contains vitamin D. Yes, vitamin D! Mushrooms are the only fruit or vegetable source of this critical vitamin. It contains calcium, iron, potassium, copper, and selenium.
Like humans, mushrooms produce vitamin D when in sunlight. Exposing them to high levels of ultraviolet light just before going to market converts more of the plant sterol ergosterol into the so-called sunshine vitamin. In the U.S., portobellos fortified with vitamin D are already being sold, with a three-ounce (85-gram) serving providing about 400 IU of vitamin D (Osteoporosis Canada recommends that adults under 50 get 400 to 1,000 IU daily). William Stevens, CEO of the trade organization Mushrooms Canada, says, “A couple of Canadian producers are already testing this procedure.” He adds that “high D” or “sunshine” mushrooms should be in stores here in about six months or so.
15. Eat your antioxidants
When it comes to antioxidants—the substances that help fight free radicals that are the result of oxidation in our body—we’re more likely to think of colourful vegetables than neutral-hued mushrooms. But a study at Penn State university showed that the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC)—a measure of a food’s total antioxidants—of crimini and portobello mushrooms were about the same as for red peppers.
16. Kick up your metabolism
B vitamins are vital for turning food (carbohydrates) into fuel (glucose), which the body burns to produce energy. They also help the body metabolize fats and protein. Mushrooms contain loads of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and vitamin B3 (niacin): 100 grams (31/2 ounces) of crimini have 44 percent and 30 percent of your daily recommended amount, respectively, white button have 36 and 30 percent, and oyster mushrooms have 32 and 39 percent.
17. A good friend to your bladder
An analysis of seven studies—published last year in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention—showed that the higher the level of selenium, as measured in blood serum and toenails, the lower the risk of bladder cancer. Selenium had a significant protective effect mainly among women, which the researchers believe may result from gender-specific differences in this its accumulation and excretion. Several types of mushrooms are rich in this essential trace mineral: 100 grams of raw crimini have 47 percent of your daily needs, cooked shiitakes have 45 percent and raw white button have 17 percent.
Different Types of Mushrooms and Their Benefits:
You might be wondering if there are different types of mushrooms. Yes, there are around 14,000 types of mushrooms round the globe. Each type of mushroom has its own benefits:
a. White Mushrooms:
Buttons and Portobellos belong to this category which is also the most common type of mushrooms we eat. The special carbohydrates present in these mushrooms help to maintain sugar levels in the blood. These mushrooms help in losing weight and fight against prostate cancer.
b. Shiitake Mushrooms:
These contain good flavour and are also meaty. Lentinan present in these mushrooms is a natural anti-tumour compound and thus help to fight against cancer. They have vitamin D in great quantity and fights against infections.
d. Maitake Mushrooms:
How to Select and Store?
Selection: Selection of mushrooms is of prime importance to ensure their freshness and viability. You can either purchase the mushrooms from a local store or supermarket. Avoid picking up wild mushrooms.
For purchasing mushrooms:
- Select the ones that are firm with a smooth fresh appearance.They should have a slightly shiny surface and uniform colour.
- Their surfaces should be plump and dry but not dried out.
- To determine their freshness, ensure that there are no signs of mold, sliminess or shrivelling due to dehydration.
- Fresh mushrooms have a bright unblemished colour whereas older mushrooms tend to shrivel and have a greyer tinge.
Storage: Once you have got the mushrooms, it is important to store them properly to retain their freshness and firmness.
- Mushrooms bought in packaged form should be kept in their original package or porous paper bags for a longer shelf life.
- Mushrooms will last for a week when they are stored in a brown paper bag on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.
- Fresh mushrooms should never be frozen but sautéed mushrooms can be frozen for up to one month.
- Mushrooms should not be stored in a crisper drawer as it is too moist.
- They should be kept away from other foods with strong flavours or doors as they will absorb them.
- Mushrooms should be frozen or dried if you intend to store them for more than a week.
Tips for Usage (Cooking/Eating):
Mushrooms are quite versatile and can be eaten raw or cooked depending upon the variety.
- Before preparing mushrooms, they should be wiped with a damp paper towel to prevent water-logging.
- Mushrooms should never be washed as they can absorb water and become saturated.
- For cooking – trim the base of the stem which joins the individual mushroom and the cluster.
- This area is chewy in texture and the choice of cooking technique depends upon the variety of the mushroom.
- Generally delicate mushrooms take lesser time to cook. Cooking softens their texture but overcooking should be avoided as they can make a mushroom wilted and mushy.
Given below are some tips for enjoying these nutty vegetables:
- Different varieties of mushrooms can be used in different dishes. The small mushrooms are suitable for soups and stews as they will hold together while the soup or stew is cooking.
- Mushrooms can be great when combined with eggs. You can try making mushroom and garlic scrambled eggs, mushroom frittata or even a mushroom omelet.
- Mushrooms can also be grilled. They can be wrapped in an aluminum foil along with some butter and placed on a grill for 10 minutes or till they are cooked. These are great when combined with grilled steak. You can also add some small pieces of onion in the aluminum foil along with the mushrooms.
- Dried mushrooms can be reconstituted by covering them with warm liquid such as broth, wine etc. and allowed to sit for at least 30 minutes. After this, drain and rinse them with a warm paper towel. The liquid that has been used to reconstitute dried mushrooms can be added to soups, stews and stocks to impart flavor.
- Button mushrooms can be marinated by mixing them with your favorite vinaigrette and refrigerated for 2 days.
- You can make mushroom powder by grinding dried mushrooms in a spice or coffee grinder, food processor or heavy duty blender. This powder can be used to flavor soups, stews, stocks, dips and sauces.
- Mushrooms can be used as fillings in sandwiches, tortillas and other lunch breads, making them more substantial and tasty. You can try making a mushroom portobello sandwich or marinated grilled portabellas.
- Mushrooms are commonly used as part of pizza toppings. While preparing pizzas, you can make them the main ingredient along with cheese and other vegetables.
- Due to their nutty taste, mushrooms can add flavour to soups and salads as well as absorb the flavour of the dish in which they are being put. If you are planning to eat mushrooms alone, you can season them with fennel seeds or tarragon.
- Mushrooms have a distinct flavour of their own which can be enhanced by cooking them in some butter or olive oil before combining them with other ingredients. They can be sautéed in butter or olive oil and added to the dish that is being made.
- When frying mushrooms, ensure that you use moderately high heat so that the water they release, gets evaporated. This can prevent them from stewing their own juices, making them limp and less palatable.
Phew! That’s a lot of information to take into account. Hopefully this will guide you in incorporating mushrooms in your daily diet. Regular consumption will allow you to reap the benefits of mushrooms. Stay fit, stay healthy!