Since the ancient history, mushrooms have been revered for their immense health benefits. Mushrooms, these edible fungi are appreciated among epicureans for their wonderful flavor. Basically, they are fungi which have a fleshy and spore-bearing fruiting body. For hundred of years, they have been in use not only for utilization purposes but also for medicinal purposes. Greeks believed that mushrooms to be a source of strength, and Pharaohs ate mushrooms as a delicacy. Chinese has been regarded mushroom as health food due to their rich health content. In the world, 14,000 types of mushrooms are available out of which about 3,000 are edible, about 700 have known medicinal properties and around 1400 have been recognized as poisonous. Nowadays, people eat mushrooms for their flavor, texture as well as for the health benefits.
Actually mushrooms are fungi, but they are often grouped with vegetables. Nutritionally, mushrooms low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free and very low in sodium, yet they supply several nutrients, including selenium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin D and more. Some studies have shown that mushroom strengthen body and improve immune system by maintaining physiological homeostasis. Different types of mushroom have different nutritional value but almost all mushroom brings great health benefits to the human body.
Nutritional facts of Mushrooms:
- Folate (Vitamin B9)
- Niacin (Vitamin B3)
- Vitamin B6
- Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5)
- Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
- Thiamin (Vitamin B1)
As shown in above nutrition data, mushrooms are a good source of B vitamins, including riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid, which help to provide energy by breaking down proteins, fats and carbohydrates. B vitamins have also an important role in the nervous system. Pantothenic acid helps in the production of hormones. Riboflavin helps to maintain healthy red blood cells. Niacin promotes healthy skin and ensures the digestive and nervous systems function properly.
They are also a good source of important minerals. Selenium, an antioxidant mineral helps to protect body cells from damage that might lead to heart disease, some cancers and other diseases of aging. Also, it has been found to be important for the immune system and fertility in men. Many foods of animal origin and grains are good sources of selenium but mushrooms are among the richest sources of selenium and provide 8-22 mcg per serving.
A naturally occurring antioxidant, Ergothioneine may also help to protect the body’s cells. Mushrooms supply 2.8-4.9 mg of ergothioneine per serving of white, portabella or crimini mushrooms. Copper helps in production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body. It also helps to keep bones and nerves healthy. Potassium helps to maintain normal fluid and mineral balance and thus helps to control blood pressure. Also, it plays a role in making sure that nerve and muscles, including the heart, function properly.
Numerous species of mushroom contain beta-glucans which have shown marked immunity-stimulating effects, contribute to resistance against allergies and may also participate in physiological processes associated to the metabolism of fats and sugars in the human body. Oyster, shiitake and split gill mushrooms are considered to be the most effective for its beta-glucans content.
Health Benefits of Mushroom:
The health benefits of mushroom include the following:
Breast Cancer & Prostrate Cancer:
Due to presence of Beta-Glucans and conjugated Linoleic Acid, mushrooms are very effective in preventing cancer of breast and prostrate. Linoleic acid is particularly helpful in suppressing effects of estrogen, which is the prime reason for breast cancer in women after menopause. On the other hand, the Beta-Glucans inhibit growth of cancerous cells in cases of prostrate cancer. Selenium of mushrooms is also very effective in inhibiting cancerous cells.
Mushrooms have no cholesterol and fats. Also, they are very low in carbohydrates. Also, they are loaded with fiber and certain enzymes which help to lower cholesterol level. Additionally, the high lean protein content of it helps to burn cholesterol on digestion.
Mushrooms contain ergothioneine, a powerful naturally occurring anti oxidant that may help protect the body’s cells from free radicals as well as it boosts up immunity. Also, natural antibiotics (similar to penicillin, which itself is extracted from mushrooms) are present in mushrooms which inhibit microbial and other fungal infections. Also, they help to heal ulcers and ulcerous wounds and protect them from infections. Also, vitamins A, B-Complex and C present in mushrooms help to strengthen the immune system.
For diabetics, mushrooms can be an ideal low energy diet as they have no fats, no cholesterol, very low carbohydrates, high proteins, vitamins and minerals, a lot of water and fiber. In addition, they are loaded with natural insulin and enzymes which help to break down sugar or starch of the food. Also, they are known to contain certain compounds which help in proper functioning of liver, pancreas and the other endocrinal glands, thereby promoting formation of insulin and its proper flow. People having diabetes frequently suffer from infections particularly in their limbs which last for long time. To protect from this dreaded situation, natural antibiotics of mushrooms also help.
Some preliminary studies have shown that increasing intake of low-energy-density foods (meaning few calories given the volume of food), specifically mushrooms, instead of high-energy-density foods, like lean ground beef, can be an effective method for decreasing daily energy and fat intake while still feeling full and satiated after the meal.
Good for cardiovascular health:
Mushrooms are rich source of potassium, specifically portabella mushrooms. From a single serving of mushroom, you can also get twenty to forty percent of your daily copper requirement. This minerals, potassium and copper are essential for cardiovascular health.
Mushrooms are loaded with antioxidants like ergothioneine which is necessary for healthy eyes, kidney, bone marrow, liver and skin. They are also rich in riboflavin and selenium and so by strengthening the immune system, they prevent the action of free radicals in the body, as a result decreasing the aging process.
Mushrooms are the only vegetable and the second known source (after cod liver oil) which contain vitamin-D in edible form.
They are rich source of calcium (good for bones), iron (benefits in anemia), potassium (very good for lowering blood pressure), copper (anti bacterial) and selenium (very good for health of bones, teeth, nails, hair and as an anti oxidant). Animal proteins are the best source of selenium. Thus, mushrooms can be the best choice for vegetarians to get selenium.
Mushrooms: Marvels of Mother Nature video from Youtube:
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