According to deciphered hieroglyphs mushrooms have been hailed as the plant of immortality from the early Egyptians. The Pharaohs so loved the flavor of mushrooms it was decreed that no commoner was to ever touch or eat mushrooms, they were only for the royals. The first known cultivated mushrooms were grown in caves outside of Paris and used for food and medicinal remedies. Russia, Greece, China, Mexico and Latin America utilized the mushroom in various rituals and practices that would provide super human strength, mystic properties and believing mushrooms could lead our souls to the gods!
But what we do know is mushrooms are the perfect food for everyone!
John Hopkins University, Maryland, had a study that indicated when dieters replaced one serving of meat, with one cup of mushrooms to their diet they consumed 123 less calories per day and lost an average of 7 pounds and 2.6 inches from their waist in 6 months without making any other dietary changes
Mushrooms are low in calories, fat free, cholesterol free, and have very low levels of sugar and salt; they provide a valuable source of dietary fiber, as well as vitamins and minerals.
Mushrooms have approximately 45 calories, 6 grams of protein, 6.5 grams of carbohydrates and 2.5 grams of fiber in one 8 oz cup.
Vitamin D: Mushrooms are the only plant source of vitamin D, which is essential for healthy bones and teeth.
Vitamin B1 – Thiamin: Thiamin controls the release of energy from carbohydrate, which is needed for the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system.
Vitamin B2 – Riboflavin: Mushrooms are high in Riboflavin, a B-vitamin that helps to maintain healthy red blood cells and promotes good vision and healthy skin.
Vitamin B3 – Niacin: Niacin, another B-vitamin found in mushrooms, helps to control the release of energy from protein, fat and carbohydrate, which keeps the body’s digestive and nervous systems in good shape. Niacin decreases the LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol and triglyceride levels and can also increase HDL (high-density lipoprotein) levels.
Vitamin B5 – Pantothenic Acid: Plays a number of essential metabolic roles in the human body, including providing assistance with the production of hormones; found naturally in mushrooms.
Vitamin B9 – Folate: Mushrooms are a rich source of Folate, which is essential for the formation of red and white blood cells in bone marrow. Folate is an important factor in healthy growth and development: pregnant women are encouraged to increase their Folate to assist with growth.
Vitamin H – Biotin: Is essential in the metabolism of proteins and carbohydrates and is another B-vitamin found in mushrooms.
Sodium: Mushrooms contain virtually no salt.
Potassium: This important mineral aids in the maintenance of normal fluid and mineral balance, which helps to control blood pressure. Mushrooms contain more potassium than most other fruit and vegetables: one medium Portabello mushroom contains more potassium than a banana.
Calcium: As well as being the most abundant mineral in the human body, calcium provides the structure for our teeth and bones and is needed for muscle contraction. 100g of mushrooms contains 2mg of calcium.
Iron: Mushrooms are a source of iron, which is essential to normal human physiology.
Zinc: Found in almost every cell of your body, zinc stimulates the activity of approximately 100 enzymes and supports a healthy immune system.
Magnesium: Essential to good health, magnesium helps to maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system and keeps bones strong; 100g of raw mushrooms contain 9mg of magnesium.
Selenium: This mineral works as an antioxidant, protecting body cells from damage that might lead to heart disease and some cancers. Mushrooms are one of the richest, natural sources of selenium. It is also instrumental in the protection of the cell walls from oxidation.
Ergothioneine: This is another, naturally occurring, antioxidant which is found in mushrooms.
Mushrooms & Antioxidants
As indicated above mushrooms contain two antioxidants, Selenium and Ergothioneine. Antioxidants are the scavengers of free radicals and are believed to help the body fight chronic diseases. Research has found that the common button mushroom has 12 times more Ergothioneine than wheat germ, and 4 times more than chicken livers: previously these were the top rated foods for this antioxidant. Shitake mushrooms have the most Ergothioneine than any other mushroom.
Mushrooms & Cholesterol Mushrooms are rich in the non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) chitin and beta-gluten as well as the Niacin content listed above. Recent research demonstrates that these NSP, or dietary fiber, can help to reduce blood cholesterol and protect against heart disease.
Selecting mushrooms-When buying mushrooms look for dry, firm, wrinkle-free skin. Fresh mushrooms should not have any wet, slimy spots. Fresh mushrooms should feel heavy for their size.
Storing for your mushrooms-Your mushrooms will stay fresh longer if they are stored in a brown paper bag on the bottom shelf of your fridge.
Preparing your mushrooms-Before preparing to eat them raw or if cooking your mushrooms wash them in cool water, wipe clean with a paper towel, or you may brush them with a pastry brush to remove any visible dirt and trim any dry ends off. Your mushrooms are now ready to eat.
Today mushrooms are grown in nearly every state with Pennsylvania being the largest producer. Pennsylvania produces 62% of total US production which is well over 850 million pounds per year and is increasing yearly as individuals realize the health benefits of consuming mushrooms.
With all the great things mushrooms have to offer be sure to add it to your grocery list!