Whatever your favorite – crimini, oyster, portobello, shiitake or button – all mushrooms are overflowing with essential nutrients that every body needs. Used for thousands of years as a source of food or for medicinal purposes, mushrooms are classified as a fungi, of which only 3,000 types are edible, approximately 700 types have recognized medicinal properties, while less than 1% have been classified as poisonous. Your best bet, rather than collecting them yourself, is still to buy them from a reputable grocer. The Egyptians, Chinese, and Romans all held the mushroom in esteem for its nutritional value, with the Greeks believing that it provided strength for their warriors in battle. Some mushrooms have a distinct flavor all of their own, while others have a more neutral flavor, taking on the flavors of the dish they’re cooked in. Their texture holds up well to all kinds of cooking, sautéing and even deep frying. Nutritionally speaking, mushrooms contain about 80% water, which makes them very low in calories, sodium and fat. They are an excellent source of potassium which will be helpful to anyone trying to lower their blood pressure and reduce their risk of stroke. Mushrooms also provide copper to the diet; a mineral that has cardio-protective properties. Also a rich source of selenium, mushrooms provide this important antioxidant that works alongside vitamin E to protect cells from free radical damage. Mushrooms are also high in the B vitamins riboflavin and niacin.
We all know that mushrooms can grow in darker, more shady areas, however not too many people know that once exposed to sunlight, mushrooms produce vitamin D and that they are the only fruit or vegetable source of this important vitamin. Exposing mushrooms to ultraviolet light just before they head to market forces the fungi to convert ergosterol (a plant sterol) into vitamin D. You’ll have to read the label to know if the mushrooms you’re buying have had this procedure applied to them. Some producers in the U.S. are already applying this technique, while others in Canada are still testing the procedure. If the mushrooms have been exposed to ultraviolet light, a 3-ounce serving can provide approximately 400 IU of vitamin D. Osteoporosis Canada recommends 400 to 1,000 IU per day for adults under 50.
In the world of natural health, “medicinal” mushrooms are known as some of the most potent immune boosters and disease fighters. Perhaps the most potent of all is the Agaricus Blazei Murrill mushroom, known in its native Brazil as “The Mushroom of God”; however, many othershave also proven to be very effective and popular. Shiitake mushrooms lower cholesterol and improve immune system function, good for preventing high blood pressure and heart disease, for controlling cholesterol level, building resistance against viruses, and fighting diseases such as AIDS/HIV and cancers. The Reishi mushroom can increase the production of interleukin 1 and 2, resulting in inhibition of tumor growth. Studies show that Reishi can have a number of other positive effects on the body such as analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-viral (through its interferon production), lowers blood pressure. It also acts as a cardio-tonic by lowering serum and increasing the production of interleukin 1 and 2, which results in inhibition of tumor cholesterol, expectorant, anti-tissue, liver protecting and detoxifying, protectionagainst ionizing radiation, antibacterial, and anti-HIV activity. 1
As far as antioxidants go, most of us think of brightly colored vegetables as the best source. However, according to Science Daily and Penn State researchers, portabella and crimini mushrooms rank right up there with carrots, green beans, red peppers and broccoli as good sources of dietary antioxidants. Penn State researchers measuring the activity of two antioxidants, polyphenols and ergothioneine, using the ORAC test (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) found that portabella mushrooms had an ORAC value of 9.7 micromoles and criminis had a value of 9.5, while carrots and green beans had a value of 5, red peppers a value of 10, and broccoli a value of 12. Put toe to toe, mushrooms can indeed hold their head up proudly with the other antioxidant-rich vegetables.
In the absence of B vitamins, your body would have a difficult time turning the food you eat into fuel and metabolizing fats and proteins. Mushrooms are absolutely loaded with the B vitamins riboflavin and niacin. In fact, 3.5 ounces of crimini mushrooms have 44 percent and 30 percent, respectively, of your daily recommended intake. White button mushrooms and oyster mushrooms rank a close second in both of these B vitamins as well.
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. 2 Selenium not only helps reduce cholesterol, but helps alleviate inflammatory diseases such as arthritis.
Fats, Carbs and Cholesterol
If you’re trying to lower your “bad” cholesterol by watching your diet, mushrooms can provide you with a good source of lean protein as they have zero cholesterol, zero fats and very low carbohydrates. Their fiber content and certain enzymes they contain help lower cholesterol, however they help even further as they also burn cholesterol as they are digested.
The aforementioned set of facts also makes them an ideal food for diabetics. In addition, mushrooms contain a natural type of insulin and enzymes which help break down sugars or starches in the food you eat. They are known to contain compounds which help liver, pancreas and endocrine gland functioning which aids in the formation of insulin and its distribution throughout the body.
Trying to lose weight? The more protein you eat, the more fats are burned to digest the protein. Mushrooms are an ideal source of lean protein, in addition to being a low-carb, zero-fat food. When ground beef was swapped out for mushrooms in lasagna, sloppy joes and chili, adults consumed 400 fewer calories per day, according to a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study. Researchers estimate that if you substitute mushrooms for ground meat in one meal every week, you can lose five pounds in a year. Just don’t sabotage this fringe benefit by preparing mushrooms with loads of butter. Instead, toss them into a nonstick pan that’s been lightly sprayed with oil, then sauté on low heat until they soften.
Mushrooms and Minerals
Short on minerals? Mushrooms are a great source of calcium, iron, potassium (good for lowering blood pressure), copper (anti-bacterial properties) and selenium (good for your bladder, second only to animal protein).
Vegan Mushroom Gravy
This vegan gravy is thickened using a roux, which is a mixture of equal parts fat and flour cooked until the flour has darkened. Cooking the flour gives the gravy a toasty flavor and dissolves the flour so all you are left with is a silky smooth texture without any grit. The key to getting its rich, nutty flavor is to let the gravy simmer for 15-20 minutes at the end.
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 8-ounce container mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup mushroom or vegetable broth
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
Salt and pepper to taste
In a sauté pan over medium high heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil. When oil is heated through, add sliced mushrooms. Sauté for 7-10 minutes, or until tender. Pour mushrooms into a side dish, and return sauté pan to the stove. <
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over low heat. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of oil. Cook and whisk continuously for 30-35 minutes, or until roux is peanut butter brown. Slowly and carefully pour in vegetable broth and almond milk while whisking continuously. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Stir in sautéed mushrooms. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve over mashed potatoes or a vegan protein.
From FitSugar, Healthy Happy You.
Wild Rice and Mushroom Dressing
Adapted from Bon Appétit
1 cup wild rice
3 tablespoons butter, divided
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
12 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, sliced
1 red pepper, chopped
1 large onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large dried ancho chile, stemmed, seeded, finely chopped
1 cup brown basmati rice
3.5 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 bay leaves (preferably fresh)
1 teaspoon (or more) coarse kosher salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
Place wild rice in heavy medium saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover rice by 3 inches. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until rice is almost tender, about 45 minutes. Drain.
Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add shiitakes and red pepper; sauté until brown, about 7 minutes. Transfer to large bowl.
Add 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil to same pot; heat over medium heat. Add onions to pot; sauté until golden and very tender, about 20 minutes. Add garlic and chile; stir 1 minute. Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil to pot; add brown rice and stir 2 minutes.
Add wild rice, broth, bay leaves, and 1 teaspoon coarse salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; cover and simmer until all rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, 35 to 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, blanch the green beans in a large pot of boiling water. Boil for 1 minute until they are bright green in color. Transfer with a slotted spoon to an ice-water bath.
Fluff rice mixture with fork. Stir in mushrooms and red pepper, green beans, and parsley. Season to taste with more salt and pepper. Stir briefly over medium heat until heated through. Transfer to large bowl. Enjoy!
From FitSugar, Healthy Happy You.
NUTTER’S CAN SUGGEST…
Purica’s Red Reishi is a Full Spectrum lab-grown product, including mycelium, fruitbody, spores, primordial and extra cellular compounds. It is a most revered ancient mushroom, a powerful adaptogen and immunomodulator. Red Reishi rejuvenates the body therefore bringing us to a better state of balance within.
Relieves insomnia, anxiety and stress, balances energy, strengthens immune system, detoxifies and tones liver and bowel, promotes healthy moods, memory and concentration.
The medicinal mushroom Red Reishi is used for its health-promoting qualities as it pertains to memory, stress, insomnia and energy/stamina.
1. Mushrooms that Fight Cancer and Boost the Immune System, Natural News
2. Best Health Magazine
Science Daily, Mushrooms As Good An Antioxidant Source As More Colorful Vegetables.
Carol Roy is a Natural Health Practitioner who received her diploma from the Alternative Medicine College of Canada in Montreal, Quebec. With 12 years experience in her area of expertise, natural health and wellness, Carol has also trained to become a fully qualified Reiki Master, Quantum Touch Practitioner, and Reflexologist.
The suggestions by Nutter’s Bulk & Natural Foods and the contents of this article
are recommendations only and not a substitute for any medical advice or a
replacement for any prescriptions. Seek medical advice for any health concerns.
Consult your health care provider before using any recommendations herein.