The mushroom season is in full swing. In this blog I’d like to share with you the information about health benefits of mushrooms.
Protein mushrooms: Oyster mushrooms
Mushrooms are a relatively good source of vegetable protein, as well as provider of B-vitamins and some minerals, especially phosphorus, potassium, copper and iron. Oyster mushrooms are in particular rich in protein. One portion of oyster mushroom (150 g) contains 5 grams of protein. This same serving contains:
- 37% RDA of niacin (vitamin B3),
- 30% RDA riboflavin (vitamin B2),
- 19% RDA pantothenic acid (vitamin B5),
- 12% RDA thiamine (vitamin B1),
- 10% RDA folic acid (vitamin B11 or B9),
- 18% RDA phosphorus, potassium, copper,
- 11% RDA iron and
- 8% RDA zinc.
Raw mushrooms: Champignons
Champignons are one of the few mushrooms that can be eaten raw. However, it is actually better to consume mushrooms cooked. Why? Firstly, mushrooms have very rigid cell walls that are basically not digested in raw form. Secondly, under the influence of temperature beneficial nutrients mushroom contain are released, including vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Thirdly, raw mushrooms contain small amounts of toxins, including compounds that are considered carcinogenic (can potentially provoke cancer). These substances are destroyed during the cooking process. Fourth, non-organic mushrooms efficiently accumulate pesticides and other harmful substances that our bodies do not need at all. Well, if you really feel like eating raw champignons, I absolutely recommend you to buy biological ones.
Medicinal mushrooms: Chaga
Chaga Mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) belongs to the family Hymenochaetaceae Basidomycetes. Chaga grows on birch trees in colder northern climates. Well actually, it grows on other trees as well, but only birch Chaga is believed to have medicinal properties. It is known that already in the Sixteenth century (if not earlier) Chaga has been used in folk medicine in Siberia. In recent years, scientists have identified a variety of chemical compounds (so-called polyphenols) that have potential health benefits. For example, these polyphenols possess anti-bacterial, liver-protective, and anti-tumor properties, and also exhibit antioxidant activity.
The healing properties of this fungus, however, has been mainly confirmed by in-vitro (lab) tests. Laboratory test results cannot always be extrapolated exactly the same way into human trials. Consumer interest in chaga is growing rapidly. Therefore, it is possible that in the near future we will hear about clinical trials with this fungus. So far scientists agree on two things. Firstly, this fungus has a serious therapeutic potential. Secondly, it is nontoxic, which basically means it can be safely consumed without health concerns.
Dried and frozen mushrooms
Dried mushrooms are great in the sense that they contain a very large concentration of trace elements. For example, 15 grams of dried shiitake mushrooms (4 mushrooms) contain as much as 40% of the RDA of copper, 33% of the RDA pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) and of the RDA 12% selenium.
Frozen mushrooms, in principle, contain the same amount of useful nutrients as fresh. Once thawed, mushrooms should not be put in the freezer anymore. This is actually true for all foods.
Mushrooms are a truly dietary product. Their consumption leads to a quick satiety while they contain very little calories. On average, mushroom contain 20 calories per 100 grams. Besides, due to their structure, taste and smell, mushrooms are besides an excellent substitute for animal products in dishes like risotto, rice and pasta. You can also make vegetarian meatballs, burgers and spreads using mushrooms of all kinds.