Mushrooms are basically fungi, which have a fleshy and spore bearing fruiting body. Mushroom describes a variety of gilled fungi, with or without stems, and the term is used even more generally, to describe both the fleshy fruiting bodies of some ascomycota and the woody or leathery fruiting bodies of some basidiomycota, depending upon the context of the word.
They have been in use not only for consumption purposes, but also for medicinal purposes, since ages. There are over 14,000 types of mushrooms in the world, out of which 3,000 are edible, about 700 have known medicinal properties and around 1400 have been recognized as poisonous.
At present 3 mushrooms are being cultivated in India. These are : the white mushroom (Agaricus bisporus), the paddy-straw mushroom (Volvariella vovvacea) and the oyster mushroom (Pleurotus sajor-caju). Of these, A. bisporus is the most popular and economically sound to grow and is extensively cultivated throughout the world.
Today, mushrooms are eaten by people, for their flavor, texture as well as for the health benefits they accord.
Mushrooms contain about 80 to 90 percent water, and are very low in calories (only 100 cal/oz). They have very little sodium and fat, and 8 to 10 percent of the dry weight is fiber. Hence, they are an ideal food for persons following a weight management program or a diet for hypertensive.
Mushrooms are an excellent source of potassium. Infact, it is said that there is more potassium in a mushroom than a banana.
Mushrooms help fight against cancer. They are an excellent source of selenium, an antioxidant that works with vitamin E to protect cells from the damaging effects of free radicals.
Mushrooms are rich in copper, a mineral that has cardio-protective properties. A single serving of mushrooms is said to provide about 20 to 40 % of the daily needs of copper.
Researches have suggested that white button mushrooms can reduce the risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer. Infact, extract of white button mushrooms has been found to help in diminishing cell proliferation as well as tumor size.
Shiitake mushrooms comprise of Lentinan, a beta-glucan that has been associated with stimulation of the immune system and thus, is believed to be helpful in fighting against AIDS. It also helps fight infection and exhibits anti-tumor activity.
Being rich in fiber, protein and Vitamin B, mushrooms help maintain a healthy metabolism.
It has been found that mushroom extract helps stop migraine headaches and is beneficial for people suffering from mental illnesses, like obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Oyster mushrooms are said to be useful in strengthening of veins and relaxation of the tendons
100 gm of mushrooms contains:
Mushrooms contains some very important mineral and vitamins like: Folate (Vitamin B9), Niacin (Vitamin B3) , Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Thiamin (Vitamin B1), Vitamin B6, Copper – 0.3 mg, Iron – 0.5 mg, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Selenium.
Health tips for mushroom
As you have read the benefits and nutritious fact about mushroom, you sure should add mushrooms in your diet but be careful Mushrooms can even kill! Most of the mushrooms are not edible, are highly poisonous and look strikingly similar to their edible counterparts. Even certain edible mushrooms can go poisonous depending upon the substance they grow on. Don’t ever try picking them up from woods unless you identify them very well. Do not trust on the unknown vendors too. Always trust sealed products from reputed companies or those which you grow yourself under controlled conditions after buying their seeds (called spawns) from trusted source. Because a single poisonous mushroom among others can send a whole lot of people to coma, induce severe poisoning symptoms, nausea, vomiting, convulsions, cramps, insanity or worst, can kill them.