Knowledge of the nutritional value of mushrooms and facts about mushroom nutrition seems to have “mushroomed!”
Usually the presence of brightly colored fruits and vegetables signals an array of fantastic nutrition. This is true, however, just because a food is light-colored does not mean that it is void of excellent goodness. The lowly mushroom has been one of the most misunderstood, commonly eaten foods. Mushrooms have been used for hundreds of years both as a food and as a medicine.
While most mushrooms are edible, some species are not and a few are totally poisonous. For this reason, mushroom hunting in forests is not advised unless you know exactly what you're looking for! Unless you are an expert, please limit your mushroom hunting to the produce section of your grocery store.
All edible mushrooms are good sources of selenuim. Selenuim is an antioxidant that works with Vitamin E to protect against free radicals. Selenuim may also be an anti-cancer substance since it has been proven to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. As men age their bodies produce less selenuim, therefore adding mushrooms to their diet increased the selenuim in their blood levels.
Mushrooms are interesting in that they are the only plant food that is a source of natural Vitamin D. The nutritional value of mushrooms does not end at this important fact. Mushrooms are also surprisingly rich in other important nutrients.
Mushrooms have been the source of some pharmaceutical medicines such as penicillin and some anti-cholesterol drugs. Currently, research is focusing on the effects of certain species of mushrooms to boost the immune system and help cure cancer.
Certain mushrooms, especially the Shiitake, Reishi and Maitake varieties are classified and used both as food and as healing herbs. The shiitake mushroom contains several substances that are of interest to scientists because of its successful use in various health problems. Shiitake mushrooms have been also used in the treatment and prevention of cancer, heart disease, hypertension and types of infectious diseases. They have also been used in Oriental medicine as a treatment for colds and flu. Research has found that the active part of the shiitake mushroom is a substance which stimulates the immune system, fights infection and may prevent tumors.
Reishi mushrooms may be a powerful anti-cancer agent. The Chinese promote reishi to promote a healthy heart and prostate. This mushroom seems to demonstrate anti-tumor properties. Some natural health practitioners use reishi for its sleep promoting effects. Reishi may also bring relief from bronchitis and inhibit allergic reactions.
Maitake mushrooms are also medicinal mushrooms. They too, seem to inhibit the growth of tumors and help the immune system to protect against cancer.
If you want to the powerful benefits of these exotic fungi, consider taking a mushroom supplement.
Since there are virtually no
calories in mushrooms but lots of nutrition, you may want to start
adding this mild and versatile vegetable to your daily diet. Keep raw,
white mushrooms handy for a quick and guilt-free nutritional snack.