Fungi as superfood.
Mushrooms are fungi, technically they are not vegetables. They are a low-calorie, low-carbohydrate food with health benefits as diverse as brain repair, skin health, lower blood pressure, heart health and probiotic gut support.
Mushrooms are full of fiber; most are loaded with nutrition. They are said to contain: protein, B vitamins, selenium, potassium, riboflavin (good for red blood cells), niacin, ergothioneine (a powerful antioxidant), beta glucans (which are immune-stimulating compounds that are said to lower blood cholesterol), pantothenic acid , copper, and vitamin D (particularly when exposed to the sun).
Mushrooms are prebiotic, boosting the microbiome’s beneficial bacteria, such as Acidophilus and Bifidobacterium, improving digestion and overall health.
“Mushrooms have anti-inflammatory properties and are healthy for your skin. mushrooms can help improve acne, rosacea and eczema. They are also rich in vitamin D, selenium and antioxidants that protect your skin against wrinkles and discoloration caused by environmental damage.” Miami Herald
“Mushrooms are proven to possess anti-allergic, anti-cholesterol, anti-tumor, and anti-cancer properties. … Mushrooms act as a prebiotic to stimulate the growth of gut microbiota, conferring health benefits to the host.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, NCBI
“Mushrooms are a great food to consume when you have minor inflammation, such as any injury, or if you have any autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.” Time
“Fungi produce our best antibiotics and have medicinal potential for a host of diseases.” Food Evolution Network
Mushrooms come in thousands of varieties with different nutritional profiles. Here are some we are eating.
Rich in B vitamins gives energy. B Vitamins, plus fiber. Aids digestion.
High in protein, regulates blood sugar, anti-inflammatory.
Brain food promotes mental clarity, Anti-inflammatory, support immune health.
focus and memory. Anti-inflammatory.
Immune enhancing, rich in antioxidants, suggested for cancer patients.
Fresh mushrooms are available all year long, with the peak season in the United States being April through June. Wild mushrooms are available seasonally, usually in the summer and fall. Dried and canned mushrooms can also be found all year long. I get them at our farmer’s market and my Whole Food’s produce manager can source most varieties.
Look for mushrooms that are clean and free of blemishes, such as soft, moist spots and discoloration.
Store raw mushrooms in the refrigerator in a paper bag; do not wrap in plastic or store in airtight container, as this will speed spoilage. Do not wash them until just before use. They will usually keep well for 6 to 10 days in the fridge. You can freeze raw mushrooms, or you can sauté them for about 4 minutes, cool them, remove as much air as possible and freeze them.
Mushrooms have a savory, umami flavor similar to meat and can be cooked in a variety of ways, including grilling, baking, broiling, sautéing, and roasting. We like raw mushrooms in salads and sautéed mushrooms in scrambled eggs.
Recipe for Lion’s Mane Mushroom Risotto. I am particularly interested in adding Lion’s Mane mushrooms to our diet – they improve brain function and are anti-inflammatory! This risotto recipe takes a lot of ‘adding, stirring and watching’, but it is worth the trouble.
Note: Some wild mushrooms are deadly and look very similar to healthy cousins. Be careful where you source your fungi.
Header image credit: https://www.ted.com/talks/paul_stamets_on_6_ways_mushrooms_can_save_the_world#t-79544