THE FOOD SERIES: Mushrooms

I feel like people either love mushrooms or they hate it. For those who do hate it, perhaps this post will encourage you to find a different way to enjoy it and try incorporating it into your diet because of how wonderful and beneficial this food is.

DESCRIPTION:

The fleshy, spore-bearing body of a fungus, found typically above ground on soil. The overall term ‘mushroom’ describes a wide variety of fungi that are gilled, with or without stems, as well as other fruiting bodies. (Depending on where in the world). In this post we will be discussing the most commonly eaten mushroom: the crimini mushroom. Crimini also encompasses other names such as “white button” and “portobello” as they all belong to the same scientific category. The difference between these mushrooms are the stage at which they are harvested. White button are the ‘youngest’ in terms of maturity, they are harvested at a relatively immature stage. Crimini mushrooms are the brown mushrooms that we commonly consume and are harvested at an intermediate stage. Lastly, if you haven’t guessed already, portobello mushrooms are harvested at full maturity.

We often categorize and consider mushroom as a vegetable. However they are actually fungi, meaning an organism that contains no roots, no leaves, flowers or seeds. When selecting crimini mushrooms, look for ones that are firm, plump, and clean. Avoid mushrooms that are wrinkled or shriveled.

PRODUCTION:

Mushrooms have been grown in the wild and consumed by early hunter-gatherers. Ancient Egyptians believed that they had special powers, and thus were a treasured gift. Many other cultures also believed that consuming mushrooms would provide superhuman strength.

Today China is the leader in commercial mushroom producers, followed by Europe and the United States.

NUTRITIONAL PROFILE:

1 cup of chopped raw mushrooms:

15.4 kcal
2.3 g carbs
0.7 g fiber
0.2 g fat
2.2 g protein
0.3 mg Vitamin B2
2.5 mg Vitamin B3
1.0 mg Vitamin B5
0.2 mg copper
6.5 μg selenium

Mushrooms are known for their high B-vitamin properties. From just one raw cup of crimini mushrooms, it has around 27% of your daily recommended intake of Vitamin B2! Vitamin B2 (also known as riboflavin) are the building blocks for hydrogen carrying coenzymes that help make ATP, meaning it plays a key role in energy production. Other functions include cell respiration and cell growth, maintenance of good vision, healthy hair, skin and nails, as well as aiding the body in synthesizing vitamins B3 and B6. Deficiency in Vitamin B2 may lead to cheilosis which is a sensitivity or inflammation of the mucous membranes of the mouth due to inability to rebuild cells; eye redness, burning of the eyes, eye fatigue and/or dizziness, nervous tissue damage and more. With its high B-vitamin properties in general, crimini mushrooms provide cardiovascular benefits since it helps balance our homocysteine levels; which if elevated increases our risk of cardiovascular disease.

Crimini mushrooms contain unique phytonutrients that influence the activity levels of white blood cells. “In some cases, they prevent white blood cells from becoming active when they would be better off remaining inactive. In other cases, they trigger white blood cell activity when more activity is needed.” (World’s Healthiest Foods)  In addition to immune support, crimini mushrooms also provide anti-inflammatory benefits, as they have been found to help block production of pro-inflammatory molecules. Their nutrient composition consisting of selenium, zinc and manganese, as well other antioxidant molecules provide antioxidant benefits as well, and thus helps with free radicals in the body.

WAYS TO ENJOY

I love consuming mushrooms in a variety of ways that I just couldn’t pick my top few. Unfortunately most often I add mushrooms as an additional ingredient such as in veggie bakes or roasted veggies, as a pizza topping, and in salads. So, I present a non-exhaustive list of delicious recipes that showcase mushrooms in all its glory. Be right back, as I wipe the drool off of my face.


FUN FACTS

  • Mushrooms are also called toadstools.
  • Mushrooms do not require sunlight to make energy for themselves, unlike plants.
  • Mushrooms are made up of around 90% water.
  • There are over 30 species of mushrooms that glow in the dark! It has been known that people use these as a light source through the woods.
  • Mushrooms have their own immune system.
  • Fungi use antibiotics to fend off other microorganisms that compete with them for food.


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES / REFERENCES 

 

I am going to go shop for some crimini mushrooms now, hope you do the same 😉

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