All mushrooms are fungi and they produce spores, similar to pollen or seeds, which allows them to spread or travel by the wind. The rest of the mushroom then matures, typically living in soil or wood.
There are many different types of mushrooms, some of which are edible including well-known species such as button, oyster, porcini and chanterelle.
It’s vary in appearance with more than 10,000 known types, but generally they are distinguished by a stem, fleshy rounded cap, and gills underneath the cap.
Mushrooms are being increasingly researched and used for their important health benefits, with a number of varieties demonstrating medicinal properties.
Although considered a vegetable, mushrooms are neither a plant nor animal food. They are a type of fungus that contains a substance called ergosterol, similar in structure to cholesterol in animals.
1. Heart Health
Unfortunately, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. If you’re seeking a natural source of heart-healthy fiber, pop some mushroom into your cart. Mushrooms contain fiber to not only facilitate smooth digestion but potentially also support heart health by lowering blood pressure.
2. Weight Loss
If weight loss is your goal, you might like to factor mushroom into a balanced diet. Mushrooms will keep you feeling fuller for longer and are low energy density foods, which mean there are few calories given the volume of the food. Diets featuring a variety of low energy density foods can help to maintain healthy body weight.
3. Source Of Vitamin D
Mushrooms are one of the few non-animal sources of vitamin D. When they are grown, exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, either from sunlight or a UV lamp, mushrooms increase their concentration of vitamin D.
Humidity and cooking mushroom in water do not appear to affect vitamin D content in mushrooms, but cooking them in fat (such as oils) can cause the vitamin to leach out because it is fat-soluble.
4. Immune Modulating Nutrients
Mushrooms contain active polysaccharides, is a type of soluble fibre called beta-glucan. This compound activates parts of your immune system, including immune cells called natural killer cells and macrophages, and by so doing it increases your body’s ability to fight infection and possibly even stop the growth or progression of tumours.
5. Support Gut Health
Compounds in mushrooms, including beta glucan, appear to act as prebiotics, fuelling the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and promoting a favourable gut environment. This is important because a healthy gut plays an important role in maintaining our immune defences, digesting our food as well as communicating with the brain through nerves and hormones.
Mushroom is good for everyone?
Mushrooms are generally safe for most people, as long as you do not have an allergy to mushroom or a mould allergy.
However, with the popularity of wild food foraging comes more risk. With so many varieties of mushroom not safe for human consumption, it’s important that you heed caution before dashing out to your nearest woodland. It’s best to forage with an expert and take photographs with you of the common edible varieties; make sure that the mushrooms are cooked before you try them as only a few are safe to eat raw.
Another benefit of eating mushrooms, aside from the nutritional benefits, is the versatility. “Mushrooms work in a variety of dishes. Add them into stir-fries, omelets, or even as a pizza topping.