Oyster, button, shiitake, white and Portobello are all popular types of mushrooms which people enjoy in their diets now and again. Yes, they taste delicious, but did you know just how many nutrients they contain? No? Then you may well be surprised.
A recent article in Time Magazine revealed that the humble mushroom has a staggering 15 vitamins and minerals on average, according to dietician Angela Lemond. And while it’s good that we’re all so focussed on eating our greens, the humble mushroom is often passed over in our quest for health.
In fact this versatile vegetable is fat-free, full of fibre, and packed full of cancer-fighting nutrients. They can be added to a plethora of meals, from omelettes to casseroles, stir fries and even eaten raw in salads. There’s really no excuse not to be eating at least one mushroom a day.
Here’s the lowdown on the friendly fungi…
According to Medical News Today, mushrooms are bursting with nutrients. The vegetables contain B vitamins riboflavin, folate and niacin, which help form red blood cells, boost brain power and distribute energy around the body from our food.
Mushrooms also contain copper, vitamin D, selenium, potassium and iron, as well as fibre-rich beta-glucans which can lower cholesterol and improve heart health. They also contain choline (which aids muscle movement and memory) and plenty of antioxidants.
Antioxidants, selenium and vitamin D found in mushrooms all protect the body against cancer. Free radicals can lead to cancer but mushrooms are high in antioxidants, which help prevent contracting the disease. According to Medical News Today, studies have shown that vitamin D stops cancer cells growing by helping to regulate the cycle of cell growth, while selenium contributes to healthy enzyme function of the liver.
Mushrooms really are incredible. Did you know they actually contain a specific type of fibre which lessens appetite and heightens the feeling of fullness? No wonder people refer to them as a ‘meaty vegetable’. One portabello mushroom (those large ones) has just 18 calories, making it a healthy ingredient choice.
If you suffer from type 2 diabetes, you may want to increase your consumption of oyster mushrooms. A study by the Bangladesh Institute of Research and Rehabilitation for Diabetes reported the vegetable helps lower blood sugar levels and cholesterol in patients with type 2 diabetes. Mushrooms are also thought to benefit people with type 1 diabetes by lowering their blood sugar levels.
Blood pressure problems
Shitake mushrooms are amazing for lowering high blood pressure, according to Dr Sarah Brewer. This specific edible fungi has been used in medicine for over 3000 years, she reveals, and was called the ‘elixir of life’ in ancient Japan. Dr Brewer refers to a study in which a group of overweight people ate mushrooms instead of red meat for a year and reduced their blood pressure by 7.9/2.5mmHg compared to a control group.
First off, ensure you pick firm mushrooms that are free from mould. Then there’s something super clever you can do with the vegetables to increase their Vitamin D content. A study by the Penn State University discovered that if you place the mushrooms bottom-side up on a windowsill for an hour or two in the heat of the day, their Vitamin D levels will skyrocket.
There are several ways to cook the vegetable, from frying and grilling, to oven roasting and microwaving. Interestingly, some cooking methods are better than others when it comes to retaining the nutrients of the mushroom. A study by the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition found that short cooking times equal more nutritious mushrooms, with microwaving and grilling the vegetable increasing mushrooms’ antioxidant properties.
If you enjoyed discovering the nutritional benefits of mushrooms, why not take a look at our 5 minute pan seared salmon recipe? And, it’s hard to beat this divine avocado mousse as a healthy snack or dessert.