There are many health benefits of mushrooms, but before we get into them, let us learn a little more about this food. Mushrooms are very much appreciated for their pleasant flavor and whitish appearance. Their culinary use dates to the beginning of the twentieth century when it came into widespread use in the French capital.
Mushroom Scientific Facts
- Scientific name: Agaricus bisporus L.
- Related species: Agaricus campestris L. (wild mushroom).
- Other names: Morel, field mushroom, forest mushroom, pink-bottom, portabello, vegetable meat.
- French: Champignon.
- Spanish: Champiñíon cultivado, seta de Paris.
- German: Champignon.
- Description: The mushroom is the fruiting body of the fungus, which belongs to the family Agaricaceae of the class Basidiomycota. They are formed of three distinct parts: the pileus, which is the white, fleshier portion that measures between 5 and 10 cm in diameter. The stipe is cylindrical with the annulus. The Lamellae are located under the pileus and are where the spores are formed.
- Environment: Mushrooms grow on organic matter, so manure is used as a media. Since they contain no chlorophyll, they need no light and prefer dark places. France is the primary world producer.
Health Benefits of Mushrooms
Mushrooms contain 2.1 percent quite complete proteins, approximately the same as the potato, but with less than a third of the calories. However, frying mushrooms increase their caloric content a great deal. Mushrooms are extremely rich in vitamins B1, B2, niacin, and folates, and the minerals phosphorus, potassium, iron, and trace elements. However, they are poor in calcium and vitamin C and contain no vitamin E or provitamin A.
Mushrooms digest slowly and sometimes with difficulty because of the chitin they contain and the nature of their proteins, which are rich in nucleic acids. They are not recommended in cases of gout. Mushrooms are particularly useful in diet therapy because of their anti-diabetic action.
Their low carbohydrate content and richness in proteins and B group vitamins contribute to this effect. Experiments with diabetic laboratory animals have shown that eating mushrooms reduces the need for insulin to regulate blood glucose.
The obese and people with diabetes can eat mushrooms thanks to their satiating effect and their low caloric content if they are not fried or cooked with oil.
How to use and Prepare Mushrooms
- RAW – Fresh mushrooms may be sliced thinly and eaten raw, they must be cleaned very well. Some studies suggest that raw mushrooms may have some carcinogenic effects because of their agaritine content, although others deny it. As a preventative measure, it is probably best not to consume them.
- COOKED – Roasted, fried, or in a variety of culinary preparations. They require very little cooking time (a few minutes).
- PRESERVES – Mushrooms retain their flavor and aroma quite well when they are canned, frozen, and particularly, dried.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power. Trans. Annette Melgosa. Vol. 2. Chai Wan: Editorial Safeliz, 2005. 294. Print. [health benefits of mushrooms]