Mushrooms are considered one of nature’s most versatile foods. They come in several shapes and sizes; some are delicious, nutritious, and even medicinal! There are hundreds of species of wild mushrooms that are harvested, cultivated, and eaten worldwide. More than 200 species are consumed as food and drink. Many mushrooms are used as folk medicines and have been valued since ancient times.
Mushrooms have been around since prehistoric times. Archaeologists have discovered evidence that people first started eating mushrooms as early as 10,000 years ago. For instance, the oldest preserved remains of cultivated mushrooms were unearthed in China’s Gansu Province and dated back to approximately 6500 BC. During this period, wild mushrooms were abundant in the area.
Archaeologists also discovered the remnants of a huge cooking pot with over 20 different types of mushrooms inside. Since then, people have collected and cooked wild mushrooms as well.
Mushrooms are an excellent source of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients. They also contain potent compounds called polysaccharides that are known to boost immunity and fight cancer.
There are different types of mushrooms, each with its unique health benefits. Some mushrooms are edible, while others are poisonous. Here are the main types of mushrooms and their fantastic health benefits.
Types of mushrooms Edible mushrooms- Edible mushrooms are not toxic or harmful to humans. These include button mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, portobello mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, cremini mushrooms, and more.
They are generally easy to identify. The caps have a convex shape and are smooth in appearance. A hat can range from about 2 inches wide to up to 5 inches in diameter.
The stems typically grow straight upward and taper as they get taller. The gills on the underside of the branch are white, thin, and spaced evenly apart. In some cases, the Mushroom may be covered by a mycelium that is attached to the stem.
Button mushrooms are among the easiest to recognize. Their caps have rounded edges, which make them look like buttons. The color ranges from light brown to dark brown. Button mushroom shave a strong a flavor and rm texture. They’re usually found growing in groups on woody debris such as fallen trees, stumps, rotting logs, and fence boards.
Oyster mushrooms are closely related to common mushrooms, but they tend to grow more slowly than many other mushrooms. Oysters are usually smaller and more complicated when compared to common mushrooms. When buying these mushrooms, you should look for tightly packed clusters of small mushrooms. This indicates freshness and quality.
Portobellos are large mushrooms that grow on tree trunks and dead branches. The best way to distinguish between a portobello and a similar-looking mushroom is by the size of the Mushroom.
Most portobellos are more extensive than two centimeters across. Also, portobellos have a distinctive smell. If you don’t notice any particular scent, it could be because your nose isn’t accustomed to the aroma.
Shiitake mushrooms look very much like portobellos. However, they’re bigger, ranging from v e to12 centimeters. Shiitakes often grow in dense clusters at the base of tall trees or shrubs.
Creminis are a wide variety of cultivated mushrooms. Creminis are relatively easy to nd through out the year. You’ll know them by their bright yellow to orange-yellow caps. Creminis are sometimes sold under the names’ button’ or ‘baby Bella’s.
Benefits of Mushroom
• Mushrooms are good sources of vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, and antioxidants. Mushrooms contain substantial amounts of dietary fibers. This makes them a good source of carbohydrates.
Some mushrooms are rich sources of essential amino acids — proteins that the body cannot produce. One cup of mushrooms contains about 3.5-4 grams of protein. Some mushrooms are high in calcium, iron, and zinc, while others are rich in manganese, phosphorus, copper, and selenium.
Other essential nutrients include vitamin B6, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, and folate.
Certain strains of edible mushrooms produce antimicrobial compounds called beta-glucan.
• As a natural antibiotic, mushrooms inhibit bacteria growth and prevent infection. Beta-glucans may act as immune system enhancers as well. When combined with other components such as flavonoids and phenols found in mushrooms, these antimicrobial agents can help fight against infections caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
• Mushrooms contain many valuable substances for human health, including ergothioneine, glutathione, mycaminolactone, and lentinan. Ergothioneine has antioxidant properties and acts as an antidote to heavy metals toxicity. Glutathione helps protect the cells from oxidative stress, which occurs when reactive oxygen species overwhelm the cell’s defenses. Mycaminolactone is a polysaccharide compound that has been studied for its possible role in cancer prevention. Lentinan stimulates the immunological system. It also increases resistance to disease and enhances the ability to resist radiation damage.
• Mushrooms have been used medicinally since ancient times. Some of our ancestors considered mushrooms poisonous until they learned that eating them was beneficial. Since then, scientists have conducted studies to evaluate the benefits of mushrooms. Some studies show that mushrooms are effective in treating diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and rheumatism. While most people who eat mushrooms consume fresh ones, you can use dried mushroom products too.
Dried mushrooms come in various forms such as powder, pieces, slices, flakes, or strips. They’re usually packed along with nutritional supplements. Essential Properties and health benefits of Mushroom
1) Antioxidant Properties – Mushrooms are rich in powerful antioxidants like ergothioneine. EGT has been shown to protect our bodies from free radical damage that contributes to degenerative diseases such as atherosclerosis and arthritis. Studies indicate that consuming mushrooms regularly reduces the risk of coronary heart disease.
2) Anti-Cancer Effects – Eating mushrooms daily may reduce your risk of cancer because they provide several potent anticarcinogens. These include polysaccharides, protease inhibitors, lectins, and chitin. Chitin, the main component of fungal cell walls, can trigger apoptosis in cancerous cells and stop tumor progression.
3) Immune System Enhancing Effect – Mushrooms increase the activity of white blood cells and enhance the production of antibodies. Both types of immunity help defend against illness and infection. A study found that mice fed mushrooms had higher levels of interferons than those not given mushrooms. Interferons help boost the immune system by stimulating macrophages and dendritic cells. This enables the body’s response to foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria.
The high concentration of vitamin C in mushrooms promotes collagen formation and strengthens capillaries within the skin.
4) Weight Loss & Fat Burning Effect – Mushrooms stimulate thermogenesis, which means they increase the number of calories burned through exercise. When combined with aerobic training, this effect improves weight loss. Research shows that women who ate three ounces of shiitake mushrooms four times per week lost more fat during dieting and reported greater well-being feelings than those who didn’t eat mushrooms.
A single cup contains 200mg of both calcium and magnesium.
5) Bone-Building Properties –Mushrooms are one of the best sources of calcium and other bone-building minerals. Other essential bone-building nutrients found in mushrooms include phosphorus, vitamin K, boron, and manganese.
So consuming Mushrooms will lead you to live longer and have a healthy life!