If you ever played the popular video game, Mario Brothers as a kid, you know about Mario’s quest for mushrooms. They would give him superpowers to continue on his journey.
In real life, mushrooms are a kind of superfood too. With regular consumption, we too can reap the benefits of mushrooms like Mario.
Mushrooms are increasingly becoming popular due to their versatility and powerful health benefits. They pack a nutritious punch. You have to be cautious with mushrooms and only buy from reputed shops as some mushrooms are toxic in nature such as Amanita muscaria. The other names of mushrooms are ‘Khumbi’ in Hindi, ‘Puttagodugulu’ in Telugu, ‘Kaalan’ in Tamil, ‘Koon’ in Malayalam, ‘Nayikode’ in Kannada, ‘Khumb’ in Marathi, ‘Banger Chataa’ in Bengali.
Why Eat Mushrooms?
- Edible mushrooms are a good source of fiber and unsaturated fatty acids but low in calories.
- They are rich in nutrients such as Vitamin B and minerals like selenium, copper, and potassium.
The most common type of mushroom is the cultivated white button mushroom which is widely used as an ingredient in a range of dishes as well as sauces. They also have medicinal properties and have been used in China, Korea and Japan in the treatment of disorders such as allergies, arthritis, and bronchitis as well as cancers of the stomach, esophagus, and lungs.
Skin Benefits Of Mushrooms
This might appear strange but eating mushrooms can be beneficial for your skin. Mushrooms are rich in Vitamin D, selenium, and antioxidants that protect your skin. Mushrooms are now active ingredients in topical creams, serums, and facial preparations as their extracts are considered as potent antioxidants and natural moisturizers. Some of the mushroom benefits for skin are given below:
1. Hydrates Skin:
Hyaluronic acid is considered as the body’s internal moisturizer as it plumps up and firms your skin. It reduces age-related wrinkles and fine lines. Mushroom contains a polysaccharide that is equally beneficial in hydrating and providing a plumping effect to your skin. Skin feels smooth and supple.
2. Treats Acne:
Mushrooms are high in Vitamin D. This has healing properties when topically applied to acne lesions. Thus, mushroom extracts are often used in skin care products meant for treating acne.
3. Natural Skin Lightener:
Some mushrooms contain kojic acid which is a natural skin lightener. This acid inhibits melanin production on the surface of the skin. This lightens the new skin cells formed after the dead ones are exfoliated. It is a great alternative to toxic chemical lighteners like hydroquinone that carry the risk of causing skin cancer.
[ Read: Health Benefits Of Ganoderma Mushrooms ]
4. Anti-Aging Benefits:
Mushrooms possess anti-ageing properties. Kojic acid is often used in creams, lotions, and serums as a remedy for signs of aging such as liver spots, age spots, discoloration and uneven skin tone caused by photodamage. Mushrooms enhance the natural defenses of the skin and improve its appearance by making it healthy.
5. Treats Skin Conditions:
Skin problems are mostly caused by inflammation and excessive free radical activity. Mushrooms contain antioxidants as well as compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties. Topical use of these natural compounds promotes healing and fights inflammation. Mushroom extracts are often used in skin products for treating skin conditions like eczema, rosacea, and acne.
Hair Benefits Of Mushrooms
Just like the rest of the body, healthy hair too requires the delivery of vital nutrients to the hair follicles. Deficiency of these nutrients, as well as external factors like harsh chemical treatments, unhealthy lifestyle, and prolonged illness, can cause hair problems. Mushrooms are a good source of Vitamin D, antioxidants and minerals like selenium and copper
6. Combats Hair Loss:
Anemia is one of the most common causes of hair loss. Anaemia is caused due to the deficiency of iron in the blood. Mushrooms are a good source of iron, can combat hair loss. Iron is a vital mineral as it is involved in the formation of red blood cells, thus strengthening your hair.
7. Benefits From Copper:
Mushroom contains copper which is beneficial for your hair as it facilitates the absorption of iron from food. It is involved in the production of melanin, a pigment that imparts color to your hair. Mushrooms also contain high levels of iron. Copper and iron work together promoting healthy and strong hair.
8. High in Selenium:
Mushroom contains large quantities of selenium that is vital for healthy hair. This nutrient is a powerful antioxidant which rids the body of free radicals and strengthens the immune system. Selenium is mostly found in animal proteins and therefore, mushroom can be a good alternative for vegetarians to obtain this vital trace element. Selenium aids in hair growth as well as prevents dandruff.
Selenium compounds can kill a fungus called Malassezia which is present on the scalp and is responsible for shedding dry skin fragments. Selenium in combination with zinc is effective in preventing hair loss.
[ Read: Best Selenium Rich Foods ]
Health Benefits Of Mushroom
9. Burns Cholesterol:
As mushrooms are full of proteins, fibers, enzymes, and low carbohydrates with zero cholesterol and fats, they can keep you safe from cholesterol by burning it after digestion.
10. Prevents Breast And Prostate Cancers:
Mushrooms include beta-glucans and conjugated linoleic acid with anti-carcinogens. These help in preventing breast cancer and prostate cancer. Linoleic acid helps in suppressing estrogen in women after menopause to prevent breast cancer while Beta-Glucans helps in preventing prostate cancer. Selenium helps the most in suppressing these cancerous cells.
11. Perfect Diet For Diabetics:
Mushrooms contain no fat, low carbohydrates, high proteins, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and fibers. Thus, it is an ideal diet for diabetics. The natural enzymes in it help in breaking down the sugars and starch. They also improve the functioning of the endocrinal glands. Moreover, the natural antibiotics in mushrooms help the diabetic people from easily prone infections.
12. Helps Build Immunity:
The combination of vitamins A, B, and C in mushrooms help build good immune system. The strong antibiotics present in them helps to fight against infections. The antioxidant, Ergothioneine protects from free radicals.
13. Aids in Weight Loss:
Everyone knows that to lose fat and cholesterol, you need to burn that extra fat which is ideally used to digest the proteins in your body. While dieting, it is always recommended to take high protein; low carbohydrates and no fat diet which is offered by mushrooms.
14. Vitamin D:
Mushroom is the only vegetable which contains vitamin D. It contains calcium, iron, potassium, copper, and selenium.
15. Vitamin B1:
Mushrooms are also a good source of Vitamin B1, which is also known as Thiamin. Thiamin is responsible for controlling the release of energy from carbohydrates. This is required for the normal functioning of our nervous system and brain.
16. Vitamin B2:
Mushrooms are enriched with Riboflavin or vitamin B2. This vitamin promotes good vision and eye health. Not only this, but it also maintains healthy red blood cells, which strengthens our immune system. Vitamin B2 present in mushroom is also responsible for healthy skin.
17. Vitamin B3:
Niacin or Vitamin B3 is another important B-vitamin that is found in mushrooms. It helps in controlling the release of energy from carbohydrate, fat, and protein. This tends to keep our body’s nervous system and digestive system in good shape.
18. Vitamin B5:
Vitamin B5, also known as Pantothenic Acid, is naturally found in mushrooms. It is a very important vitamin that is essential for various metabolic roles in our body. Pantothenic Acid also provides assistance in producing hormones in our body.
19. Vitamin B6:
Vitamin B6 is also found in mushrooms. It helps in boosting your mood. Vitamin B6 regulates our body’s internal clock that is very important for normal brain function and development. This vitamin is also responsible for alleviating mood swings and depression.
20. Vitamin B9:
Mushrooms are very rich in vitamin B9, which is commonly known as Folate. Vitamin B9 helps in the formation of white blood cells and red blood cells in bone marrow. Folate is also very essential for healthy growth of the body. Even pregnant women are advised to consume Folate, which helps in the proper growth of the fetus.
21. Vitamin H:
Vitamin H or Biotin is also a B-vitamin type that is found in mushrooms. It is essential in the metabolism of carbohydrates and proteins. It strengthens our inner health by increasing immunity.
Different Types Of Mushrooms And Their Benefits
You might be wondering if there are different types of mushrooms. Yes, there are around 14,000 types of mushrooms around the globe. Each type of mushroom has its benefits. Let’s find out more about them.
a. White Mushrooms
Buttons and Portobellos belong to this category which is also the most common type of mushrooms we eat. The special carbohydrates present in these mushrooms help to maintain sugar levels in the blood. These mushrooms help in losing weight and fight against prostate cancer.
The fungus also contains a good dose of Vitamins C, D and B. As you know, the deficiency of Vitamin D can result in osteoporosis. Consumption of button mushrooms can help you overcome that.
Button mushroom being a fungus is also known for its benefits. Here are some of the button mushroom health benefits:
1. Prevents Atherosclerosis
Today, heart disease has become the leading cause of death across the world. You do not have to be diagnosed with heart disease if you make button mushrooms a part of your diet. One of the main risks of heart disease is atherosclerosis, which is thickening of the arterial walls due to the accumulation of plaque.
2. Averts Risk Of Plaque Formation
Consumption of button mushrooms prevents plaque formation and also helps to reduce inflammation of the cells in the arteries. As a result, this fungus has the ability to prevent heart disease.
3. Boosts Functioning Of T-Cells
When pathogens or cancer cells invade your body, your immune system becomes active. Special cells target the pathogen and cancer cells, preventing disease and illness. Consuming button mushrooms gives your immune system a boost as the polysaccharides in the mushroom increase the activity of those special cells.
4. Fights Cancer
Aromatase is a type of enzyme that can cause certain types of cancer. Eating button mushrooms can help suppress this enzyme, protecting you from cancer.
5. Antioxidant Properties
Basically, button mushroom is a potent antioxidant. Its antioxidant properties help to fight cancer cells in the body.
6. Prevents And Fights Prostate Cancer
If you are a man diagnosed with prostate cancer, you shall definitely benefit from eating button mushrooms regularly. These mushrooms can decrease the size of the tumor and also prevent it from multiplying and spreading. Those who do not have prostate cancer can also be benefited from it as it reduces the risk of this disease.
7. Averts Risk Of Breast Cancer
It is a known fact that high levels of estrogen in the body can lead to breast cancer. You can make your estrogen levels normal by consuming button mushrooms. The mushrooms suppress the activity of testosterone and aroma taste. This, in turn, can help reduce the risk of breast cancer.
b. Shiitake Mushrooms
These contain good flavor and are also meaty. Lentinan present in these mushrooms is a natural antitumor compound and thus, help to fight against cancer. They have vitamin D in great quantity and fights against infections.
This is a large white and brown wooden mushroom with anti-cancer, antioxidants, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. They help in lowering cholesterol and lowers high BP.
d. Maitake Mushrooms
Maitake mushroom is quite popular and has been prized for more than thousand years in Asia. These mushrooms are widely known for the health benefits they offer. “Maitake” is a Japanese word, which means “dancing mushroom”—that’s the reaction you’ll have when you eat these delicious and nutritious form of fungi!This mushroom contains a lot of nutritional value, including fiber. There is no saturated fat and cholesterol in this mushroom. It is also enriched with iron and protein. These mushrooms are worth their weight in silver!
Some of the main benefits of maitake mushrooms are listed below:
1. Controls Blood Sugar
Consumption of these mushrooms can regulate blood sugar and the blood lipid levels in the body.
2. Reduces Blood Pressure Level
High BP is a common malady today—common, yet dangerous. Maitake helps in lowering the blood pressure level in the body, protecting the individual from various cardiovascular diseases.
3. Prevents Cancer
These mushrooms have anticarcinogenic properties and are enriched in polysaccharide-protein and polysaccharides complexes, which are usually used by the human body to strengthen the immune system. These mushrooms help in activating the blood cells to fight cancer-causing microorganisms.
4. Lowers Cholesterol Level
According to studies, it has been found that the consumption of maitake mushrooms helps in reducing cholesterol level in the human body.
5. Helps To Lose Weight
Maitake mushrooms can help in the reduction of weight. When it is consumed along with regular exercise, it helps to lose weight.
The presence of anti-oxidants in high quantity in these mushrooms help fight against HIV.
These mushrooms contain vitamin C, D, potassium, antimicrobial, antifungal and antibacterial properties.
It contains Ergosterol which attacks the enemy cells known as cytotoxicity. Thus, these mushrooms help in anti-inflammation.
The stem of Shimeji is long, and the cap is tiny. Since they contain beta-glucans, they help fight against cancer cells. They help in diabetes, asthma, allergies by building immunity.
i. Chaga Mushrooms
Chaga Mushrooms are full of antioxidants. They stimulate the immune system, and reduce inflammation, stomach diseases and worms that grow within the intestines. These mushrooms have the ability to fight various types of cancer, such as breast, liver and uterus cancer. People looking for relief from symptoms of HIV/AIDS can make use of this amazing mushroom. Chaga mushrooms are usually consumed with tea.
j. Cordyceps Mushroom
The cordyceps mushroom is a special type of medicinal mushroom that can help you strengthen the body as well as the mind. These mushrooms help the body fight cancer and boost your immune system too. Often, cordyceps mushrooms are used to increase endurance and treat lymphoma. Most doctors and experts suggest that these medicinal mushrooms are enough to reduce the symptoms of asthma, respiratory disorders, and bronchitis. They can be powdered and added to tea or even included in healthy dishes and soups.
k. Trametes Versicolor
Another kind of mushroom which has been used to treat cancer is Trametes versicolor. Often called Turkey Tail mushroom, it grows all over North America. It is known for fighting and eliminating cancer permanently.
l. Rooting Cauliflower Mushrooms
Diabetics with poor circulation are known to benefit from these mushrooms. The studies conducted on rats suggest that these mushrooms possess potent wound-healing properties. Human testing is yet to be done to ascertain its benefits on mankind. Be careful while picking up this variant from your grocery store as there are poisonous varieties too.
How To Select And Store Mushrooms
Selection of mushrooms is of prime importance to ensure their freshness and viability. You can either purchase the mushrooms from a local store or supermarket. Avoid picking up wild mushrooms.
For Purchasing Mushrooms
- Select the ones that are firm with a smooth, fresh appearance.They should have a slightly shiny surface and uniform color.
- Their surfaces should be plump and dry but not dried out.
- To determine their freshness, ensure that there are no signs of mold, sliminess or shriveling due to dehydration.
- Fresh mushrooms have a bright, unblemished color whereas older mushrooms tend to shrivel and have a grayer tinge.
- Once you have got the mushrooms, it is important to store them properly to retain their freshness and firmness.
- Mushrooms bought in packaged form should be kept in their original package or porous paper bags for a longer shelf life.
- Mushrooms will last for a week when they are stored in a brown paper bag on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.
- Fresh mushrooms should never be frozen, but sautéed mushrooms can be frozen for up to one month.
- Mushrooms should not be stored in a crisper drawer as it is too moist.
- They should be kept away from other foods with strong flavors or odors as they will absorb them.
- Mushrooms should be frozen or dried if you intend to store them for more than a week.
Tips For Usage (Cooking/Eating)
- Mushrooms are quite versatile and can be eaten raw or cooked depending upon the variety.
- Before preparing mushrooms, they should be wiped with a damp paper towel to prevent water-logging.
- Mushrooms should never be washed as they can absorb water and become saturated.
- For cooking – trim the base of the stem which joins the individual mushroom and the cluster.
- This area is chewy in texture, and the choice of cooking technique depends on the variety of the mushroom.
- Generally, delicate mushrooms take lesser time to cook. Cooking softens their texture, but overcooking should be avoided as they can make a mushroom wilted and mushy.
Given below are some tips for enjoying these nutty vegetables:
- Different varieties of mushrooms can be used in different dishes. The small mushrooms are suitable for soups and stews as they will hold together while the soup or stew is cooking.
- Mushrooms can be great when combined with eggs. You can try making mushroom and garlic scrambled eggs, mushroom frittata or even a mushroom omelet.
- Mushrooms can also be grilled. They can be wrapped in an aluminum foil along with some butter and placed on a grill for 10 minutes or till they are cooked. These are great when combined with grilled steak. You can also add some small pieces of onion in the aluminum foil along with the mushrooms.
- Dried mushrooms can be reconstituted by covering them with a warm liquid such as broth, wine, etc. and allowed to sit for at least 30 minutes. After this, drain and rinse them with a warm paper towel. The liquid that has been used to reconstitute dried mushrooms can be added to soups, stews and stocks to impart flavor.
- Button mushrooms can be marinated by mixing them with your favorite vinaigrette and refrigerated for two days.
- You can make mushroom powder by grinding dried mushrooms in a spice or coffee grinder, food processor or heavy duty blender. This powder can be used to flavor soups, stews, stocks, dips, and sauces.
- Mushrooms can be used as fillings in sandwiches, tortillas, and other lunch bread, making them more substantial and tasty. You can try making a mushroom portobello sandwich or marinated grilled portabellas.
- Mushrooms are commonly used as part of pizza toppings. While preparing pizzas, you can make them the main ingredient along with cheese and other vegetables.
- Due to their nutty taste, mushrooms can add flavor to soups and salads as well as absorb the flavor of the dish in which they are being put. If you are planning to eat mushrooms alone, you can season them with fennel seeds or tarragon.
- Mushrooms have a distinct flavor that can be enhanced by cooking them in some butter or olive oil before combining them with other ingredients. They can be sautéed in butter or olive oil and added to the dish that is being made.
- When frying mushrooms, ensure that you use moderately high heat so that the water they release, gets evaporated. This can prevent them from stewing their own juices, making them limp and less palatable.
How To Prepare Mushroom Tea
Mushroom tea takes a few minutes to prepare. And it tastes absolutely remarkable. You are surely going to enjoy the recipe. Follow the guidelines to maximize the results.
- Dry edible mushrooms
- Coffee grinder or blender
- 3 cups of water
- Tea bags
- Ice cubes (if you want iced tea)
- Take a cup full of edible mushrooms and grind properly in a blender for a minute.
- Now bring half a cup of water to boil over a low flame.
- Remove from heat after a minute.
- Add tea bags now.
- The powder you just made using the blender should be added next.
- If you want some fruity flavors, add fruit powder or pulp of your favorite fruit.
- Mix well.
- Add ice cubes.
- Pour into three glasses.
- Your iced mushroom tea is ready to be served.
Easy and Delicious Mushroom Recipes
Mushrooms do not harm your blood glucose levels even if they don’t lower them. Wondering how can diabetics eat mushrooms or how they can actually include them in your diet. Here are a few recipes you could try to reap the goodness of mushrooms:
1. Low-Calorie Mushroom Soup
Spice up your meal with an added dose of fiber and nutrients with this easy-to-make mushroom soup.
- Mushrooms – 3 cups, thickly sliced
- Onions – ½ cup, finely chopped
- Garlic – 3 pods, crushed
- Corn flour – 1 tsp
- Skim milk – 1 cup
- Oil – 1.5 tsp
- Salt – to taste
- Black pepper powder – to taste
- Coriander – 1 tsp, finely chopped
- Water – 3 cups, warm
- Add oil to a non-stick pan and heat it on medium flame.
- Add garlic and sauté until golden brown.
- Add onions and sauté until transparent. You can sprinkle a little water to prevent the onions from burning off.
- Add mushrooms and sauté for about 5 minutes.
- Dissolve corn flour in milk and add it to the mushrooms.
- Increase the heat to maximum, bring the contents to a boil, lower the heat, and allow it to simmer until the mushrooms are well cooked.
- Keep stirring, intermittently, to avoid them from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Remove from heat and allow it to come to room temperature.
- Add to a blender, puree to a smooth mixture.
- Transfer to a large bowl, add warm water and mix well.
- Simmer for 4 minutes.
- Adjust seasoning.
- Spoon into soup bowls and serve garnished with coriander leaves.
2. Chilled Mushroom Salad
Beat the summer heat by indulging in this guilt-free summer salad recipe.
- Fresh small mushrooms – 1 cup, halved
- Onions – ¼ cup, thinly sliced
- Cucumber – ¼ cup, cut into thin wedges
1. Lemon juice – 2 tbsp
2. Olive oil – 1 tbsp
3. Low-fat non-sour yogurt – 2 tbsp
4. Italian seasoning – 3 tsp or to taste
5. Black pepper powder – ½ tsp
6. Salt – to taste
Fresh parsley – 2 tsp
- In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients of dressing and allow this to chill for about 4 hours.
- Wash the mushrooms thoroughly and chill for 4 hours.
- Take out the chilled mushrooms and toss it with onions and cucumbers.
- Pour the dressing over the salad mixture and toss for even coating.
- Transfer to a freezer bowl and refrigerate until served.
- Serve in chilled serving plates garnished with parsley.
- If you do not like raw mushrooms, sauté them until soft and then follow the same procedure.
- You can even grill them with very little oil, salt, and pepper and follow the same procedure.
3. Sautéed Mushroom With Red Bell Peppers And Penne Pasta
This makes a wholesome main course choice. Or, you can even serve as a salad with your crispy chicken main course.
- White button mushrooms – ¼ cup, washed, sliced
- Whole wheat penne pasta – ½ cup, cooked al dente
- Onions – ¼ cup, thinly sliced
- Garlic – 6 pods, finely minced
- Red bell peppers – 1, deseeded, thinly sliced
- Olive oil – 2 tbsp
- Salt – to taste
- White pepper powder – to taste
- Pasta seasoning – to taste
- Chili vinegar – 1 tsp
- Lemon juice – ½ tsp
- Italian Parsley – ½ cup, chopped
- Follow the instructions on the package and cook pasta al dente.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
- Add crushed garlic and sauté until golden brown.
- Add onions and sauté until translucent.
- Add red bell peppers and sauté for 3 more minutes.
- Add mushroom slices and sauté until tender.
- Add salt and adjust seasoning.
- Remove from heat and keep aside.
- Drain pasta, rinse with cold water and drain completely.
- In a small bowl, mix vinegar with pasta seasoning, white pepper powder, and lemon juice. Adjust the seasoning.
- Add the pasta and mushroom mixture to a large mixing bowl and toss well.
- Pour the vinegar mixture and toss to ensure even coating. Adjust the flavors.
- Serve warm garnished with parsley leaves.
Phew! That’s a lot of information to take into account. Hopefully, this will guide on benefits of mushrooms will help you in incorporating mushrooms in your daily diet. Regular consumption will allow you to reap mushrooms benefits. Stay fit, stay healthy!
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