What is food without its flavour? Look into the supermarket aisles and you will find rows of seasoning and condiments that you can use to spice up your dishes.
But do you know that you can also find natural flavour-enhancing food to add oomph to your cooking among the fresh produce section? These include herbs (e.g. lemon grass, parsley), vegetables (e.g. onion, tomato), fruit (e.g. lemon, pineapple) and even seeds (e.g. sesame, sunflower seeds).
Mushrooms are one type of such natural flavour-enhancing food that you can use. They’re neither meat nor vegetable; they belong to the category of fungi. Still, they are very much a part of our diet (especially if you’re vegetarian) and are commonly used in cuisines all over the world.
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Portobello Mushroom vs Shiitake Mushroom
Portobello, an edible mushroom, is the mature form of button mushroom when white and crimini mushroom when brown, native to grasslands in Europe and North America
Shiitake mushroom is an edible mushroom native to East Asia, cultivated and consumed in many Asian countries
Portobello mushrooms, native to Europe and North America, are large, meaty mushrooms often used as a substitute for steak or hamburger. They are a mature form of common white or crimini mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms, high in iron and packing a smoky flavor, are native to Asia and have a round cap with a dark underside. Though Shiitake and Portobello mushrooms are widely used in cooking, they differ in taste, texture, size, and price.
One major difference between these two mushroom types is nutritional value. While Portobello mushrooms are high in iron, potassium and vitamin D, no one ranks them as highly as the Shiitake variety for health.
Cultures around the world prize Shiitake mushrooms for their health benefits, including warding off heart disease. Promoters of Shiitake mushrooms say ingesting these mushrooms prevents heart disease by lowering bad cholesterol levels. Further, animal tests have shown that a compound in the Shiitake called lentinin has anti-tumor and immune system-boosting benefits. In human studies, lentinin was beneficial in prolonging life of patients with stomach and colon cancers.
Why the humble mushroom is being hailed as a superfood
Mushrooms are easy to overlook in the so-called rainbow colours we are advised to eat to get a full range of nutritional benefits from fruit and veg. But research increasingly reveals why they are now qualified to join the ranks of so-called superfoods such as broccoli and blueberries. Numerous studies reveal that mushrooms may help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
'Mushrooms may seem plain, but they really are a superfood,' says dietician Dr Sarah Schenker. 'They contain virtually no fat, sugar or salt and are a valuable source of dietary fibre as well as the five B vitamins thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6) and folate.' 'They also contain the essential minerals potassium, copper, phosphorous and iron. Most significant among their mineral content is selenium, which you don't find in many fruit and vegetables.'
With more than 90 per cent water content, adding mushrooms to dishes such as stews can make us feel fuller without boosting calorie content.
related: The History of Mushrooms
Shiitake Mushrooms - The World's Healthiest Foods
Long a symbol of longevity in Asia because of their health-promoting properties, shiitake mushrooms have been used medicinally by the Chinese for more than 6,000 years. More recently, their rich, smoky flavor has endeared them to American taste buds. These exotic hearty mushrooms can now be found in supermarket shelves across the U.S. throughout the year.
Like other mushrooms, these specialty mushrooms are as mysteriously unique as they are delicious. While often thought of as a vegetable and prepared like one, mushrooms are actually a fungus, a special type of living organism that has no roots, leaves, flowers or seeds.
What's New and Beneficial about Shiitake Mushrooms:
- Although immune system support has often received much of the spotlight in shiitake mushroom research, recent study results involving support of the cardiovascular system have caught the attention of many researchers. In particular, recent studies have shown the ability of shiitake mushrooms to help protect us against cardiovascular diseases (including atherosclerosis) by preventing too much immune cell binding to the lining of our blood vessels. In order for immune cells and other materials to bind onto our blood vessel linings, certain protein molecules—called adhesion molecules—must be produced and sent into action. By helping to block the adhesion molecule production process, substances in shiitake mushrooms can help protect our blood vessels.
- Shiitake mushrooms have long been recognized as a very good, non-animal food source of iron. But a recent preliminary study has determined that the bioavailability of iron from shiitake mushrooms may be even better than we thought. Although conducted on laboratory animals (female rats) rather than humans, this study found the iron in dried shiitake mushroom to be equally as bioavailable as supplemental iron in the form of ferrous gluconate. (Ferrous gluconate is a very commonly used low-dose iron supplement.) While we don't usually spotlight research on laboratory animals, we found this result to be especially promising for individuals who consume little or no animal products and are often looking for foods that can supply valuable amounts of bioavailable iron.
- Shiitake mushrooms can be one of the most sustainable foods in your diet! While the majority of shiitake mushrooms produced worldwide have been grown on sawdust block in a non-natural setting, it is fully possible for shiitake mushrooms to be produced on natural hardwood logs in a forest setting. This approach to shiitake mushroom production is called "forest farming" and it has become an especially popular way of growing shiitake mushrooms in the U.S, where there are now more than 200 shiitake mushroom growers.
5 Health Benefits of Mushrooms
Whatever your favourite - crimini, enoki, oyster, portobello, shiitake or white button - all mushrooms are loaded with essential nutrients.
Magic mushrooms: Many varieties of mushrooms contain good-for-your-bladder selenium and, like us, they produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Oyster mushrooms are a good source or iron. Plus, they’re low in calories: Six medium white, for example, have just 22.
Here are some of the many health benefits of mushrooms.
- Increase your vitamin D
- Boost your immune system
- Eat your antioxidants
- Kick up your metabolism
- Be good to your bladder
Mushrooms: Nutritional value and health benefits
Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions.
Increasing consumption of whole, unprocessed foods, like mushrooms, appears to decrease the risk of obesity and overall mortality, diabetes, and heart disease. They also promote a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, and overall lower weight.
Health benefits of mushrooms:
- Heart health
- Weight management and satiety
Natural Health Benefits of Mushrooms
Throughout history, mushrooms have held a place of significance across the globe. In Egypt, mushrooms were reserved for royalty, in China and other parts of Asia, various types of mushrooms were first used medicinally to cure a variety of illnesses and conditions, and in France, the mushroom was established as an haute cuisine favorite.
By the 1800’s, the mushroom love spread to the U.S. Foraging clubs were established across the country to search for the fungi with numerous natural health benefits that include cancer fighting compounds, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory micronutrients.
They are considered a superfood for their enormous positive effects on our bodies. The mushroom is the fruiting body of the underground network of fungal threads known as the mycelium. And while there are more than 300 known edible types of these fungi, only 10 types of mushrooms are grown commercially in the U.S.
- High in Vitamin D
- Boosts the Immune System
- Fight Cancer
- Aid in Weight Loss
Nutrition Facts of Mushrooms
For thousands of years, Eastern cultures have revered mushrooms’ health benefits.1 Mushrooms have long been celebrated as a source of powerful nutrients, but they can also help Americans meet the dietary recommendations set forth in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines and Institute of Medicine’s Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Because Americans often eat mushrooms* and when they do, they tend to eat a healthier diet**, these positive benefits of mushrooms can have potential impact.
Often grouped with vegetables, mushrooms provide many of the nutritional attributes of produce, as well as attributes more commonly found in meat, beans or grains. Mushrooms are low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free, gluten-free, and very low in sodium, yet they provide important nutrients, including selenium, potassium (8%), riboflavin, niacin, vitamin D and more.
Nutrition researchers, communicators, and government and industry organizations who participated in the Mushrooms and Health Summit in Washington, DC, in September, 2013 explored the current state of the science. Summit proceedings, published in the Journal of Nutrition provide a review of the research supporting mushrooms as a food to help Americans eat healthy, responsible, sustainable diets.
6 surprising health benefits of mushrooms
Cultures around the world have eaten or used mushrooms medicinally for centuries, dating all the way back to ancient Egypt. Legend has it that pharaohs liked their earthy flavor so much, they declared the fungi royalty food and forbid commoners from touching them. Those greedy pharaohs kept the entire supply for themselves.
Fast forward 5,000 years or so to the 19th century, when mushroom production made its way from France (where it began in the 1600s under King Louis XIV) across the Atlantic to America. Today, the billion-dollar industry grows nearly 900 million pounds of mushrooms each year, and we're the second leading mushroom grower in the world behind China, according to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center.
Estimates vary on the number of edible varieties from 300 to 2,000, but only about 10 are grown commercially, according to the University of Idaho. Americans gobble down white button, oyster and shiitake mushrooms the most, but many varieties hide nutritional superpowers under their white or brown caps and gills. They have cancer-fighting properties:
- Mushrooms are immunity-boosters
- They help lower cholesterol
- They're high in B and D vitamins
- Mushrooms have anti-inflammatory powers
- 'Magic' mushrooms may help cancer patients
What Benefits Can You Get From Eating Mushrooms?
In ancient Egypt mushrooms were reserved for royalty, and ancient Romans thought mushrooms conferred strength to warriors, according to the Oregon State University Extension Service.
Of the 300 edible species, 10 are currently grown commercially. Use mushrooms to add distinct flavor and a range of nutritional and health benefits to some of your favorite dishes.
Mushrooms provide a wealth of potential health benefits:
- Cancer Prevention
- Immune Boost
- Vitamins and Minerals
Negative Health Effects of Mushrooms
Mushrooms are a popular addition to many dishes, salads and sauces, or served sautéed alone as a side dish.
Not all mushrooms are safe to eat, with various possible negative side effects. Specialty mushrooms are available at your local grocers.
These mushrooms are commercially grown and considered safe for human consumption, but some might produce serious side effects if you are allergic or they are contaminated:
- Food Poisoning
- Allergic Reaction
related: The Health Benefits of Button Mushrooms
10 Serious Side Effects Of Mushrooms On Your Health
Mushrooms remind us of delicious cuisines. They are low in calories and rich in vitamins and minerals. An edible fungus, it is regarded as meat for the vegetarians and is also called as toadstool. It has a fruity spore bearing body. It is grown on its food source or above or below the ground. Mushrooms are used in many dishes all over the world for its taste and high nutritional content. They possess great aroma as well. There are also many poisonous mushrooms, which pose serious hazards to your health.
Mushrooms are consumed for their medicinal values and nutrients present in them. They are available in supermarkets. Edible mushrooms may also cause some side effects on certain individuals who have fungi allergies, because they belong to the fungus group. So such individuals should take treatment and avoid consuming mushrooms in future, after experiencing the early symptoms.
10 Side Effects Of Mushrooms
- Stomach Upset
- Absent Minded
- Skin Allergies
- Tingling Sensation
- Avoiding During Pregnancy
- Mental Illness
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