Mushrooms and their important natural health benefits


By Vera Awuah

Mushrooms come in lots of different shapes and colors. It is mostly a ground food which comes naturally without any artificial substances to it.

There are some too, which are grown with artificial chemicals that are appropriate for consumption. The ones that aren’t toxic happen to be quite healthy and tasty too.

For years, Mushrooms have been known for their unique ability to add flavor in lots of different cultures and cuisines.

Where I come from in Africa, mushrooms are lumped in the vegetable category for cooking purposes and can also be used to replace meat or fish in preparing soups or stew, especially in our rural towns and villages where it serves as a source of meat in most of their delicacies, like pounded yam and soups or banku and stew.

Although they are actually fungi, mushrooms allow you to add extra taste without sodium or fat. Mushrooms can somehow be poisonous and very hard to identify in the wild, so you should always get from reliable farms or other sources.

Mushrooms we all know and enjoy eating are grouped into various types. these are:

1. Shitake,

2. Portobello,

3. Crimini,

4. Button or White Mushroom,

5. Oyster,

6. Enoki,

7. Maitake,

8. Beech.                                   

They each have unique tastes and looks. When choosing your mushrooms, make sure they feel firm, aren’t moist to the touch, and are mold-free. They can be stored in a paper bag inside the fridge for about five days. All you need to do is to brush the dirt off and rinse them lightly when you are ready to use them.

Nutritional benefits of eating mushrooms

Mushrooms are very healthy foods and you can’t go wrong with mushrooms. These organic nutrients are fat free, low-sodium, low calories and cholesterol-free. They are packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Their nutritional benefits vary, depending on the type of Mushroom, but overall, they are good sources of the following nutrients:        


Anti-Oxidant: The antioxidant in mushrooms helps protect the body from damaging free radicals that can cause conditions like cancer and heart disease. They also protect you against damage from aging and boost your immune system. Mushrooms are rich in antioxidant called selenium. In fact, they are the best sources of the minerals in the produce aisle.   

 B-Vitamins: Mushrooms are rich in the B-Vitamins riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid. The combination helps protect heart health. Riboflavin is good for red blood cells and also good for the digestive system and for maintaining healthy skin. Pantothenic acid is good for the nervous system and helps the body make the hormones it needs. 

Copper: Copper helps your body make red blood cells which are used to deliver oxygen all over the body. The mineral is also important to other processes in the body like maintaining healthy bones and nerves. Even after being cooked, a 1 cup serving of Mushrooms can provide about one-third of the daily recommended amount of copper.               

 Potassium: Potassium is extremely important when it comes to heart, muscle and nerve function. There’s about as much potassium in 2/3cup of cooked portobello mushrooms as there is in a medium-sized banana. That is why it is advisable to consume enough mushrooms especially in most of the meals you take.   


 How to eat Mushrooms

Mushrooms are incredibly versatile. You can prepare them in so many ways and pair them with tons of different ingredients. You can slice them up raw and toss them in a salad, grill them and roast them or cook them, add them to soups, stew, sandwiches, wraps, rice, and casserole recipes. It can be added to Italian dishes and Africa soups and Stew too in the western settings mushrooms works well as a side dish, or as the main course for vegetarians. The portobello mushrooms are often served as burgers or steaks because of their meaty texture. Mushrooms can be cooked several ways with healthy meals and recipes. If you do not eat a lot of Mushroom now, they’re definitely worth trying or exploring.

Do experiments with different meals or recipes and add extra nutrients into your food and you will love and enjoy them.

 happy healthy eating.

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