Mushrooms, though classified as vegetables in the food world, are not technically plants. They belong to the fungi kingdom and although they are not vegetables, mushrooms provide several important nutrients. One cup of chopped or sliced raw white mushrooms contains 15 calories, 0 grams of fat, 2.2 gm of proteins, 2.3g of carbohydrates including 0.7 g fiber, 1.4 g of sugar. Large varieties of mushrooms are available with the same amount of nutrients.
Mushrooms are naturally low in sodium, fat, cholesterol, and calories and have often been referred to as “functional foods.” In addition to providing basic nutrition, they help prevent chronic disease due to the presence of antioxidants and beneficial dietary fibers such as chitin and beta-glucans. Mushrooms also contain choline; an important nutrient found that helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory. Choline assists in maintaining the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, supports proper fat absorption and reduces chronic inflammation.
Health Benefits of Mushrooms
- Mushrooms are rich in B vitamins:- mushrooms are rich in Riboflavin, folate, thiamine, pantothenic acid and niacin. Thiamine, as a cocarboxylate is involved in energy releasing reactions. The coenzyme of riboflavin and niacin take part in a variety of oxidation-reduction reactions connected with energy generation.
- Provide several minerals:- mushrooms also provide several minerals that may be difficult to o0btain in the diet, such as selenium, Potassium, Copper, iron and phosphorus
- Improves insulin resistance:-beta-glucans are type of fiber that is found in the cell walls of many types of mushrooms. Recently, beta-glucans have been the subject of extensive studies that have examined their role in improving insulin resistance and blood cholesterol levels, lowering the risk of obesity and providing an immunity boost.
- Increase your vitamin D:- mushrooms are the only vegetable source of this critical vitamin. Like humans, mushrooms can produce vitamin D when they exposed to sunlight. The active form of vitamin D is calcitriol which functions like a steroid hormone and regulates plasma levels of calcium and phosphate.
- Boost your immune system:- mushrooms may promote immune function by increasing the production of antiviral and other proteins that are released by cells while they are trying to protect and repair the body’s tissues.
What precautions should be taken while purchasing mushrooms?
It is best to consume mushrooms that have been cultivated under appropriate conditions. Wild mushrooms that are toxic to humans can cause severe illness and sometimes even death. The beta glucans in the mushrooms may be risk for those with auto immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and multiple sclerosis. Mushrooms are known to concentrate heavy metals, as well as air and water pollutants, so healthy growing condition is a critical factor.
Best Way to Store the Mushrooms?
Mushrooms become slimy and develop brown spots within just a few days. Paper bags, plain plastic bags, perforated plastic bags and containers are used to store the mushrooms. It is ideal to use mushrooms in first couple days. Mushrooms can be stored on a paper towel, either in their original container or in a glass bowel with perforated plastic wrap over the top of the container and place them immediately in the refrigerator. Do not leave them out of the fridge for an extended period of time.
- When buying loose mushrooms, select the closed and fresh mushrooms. If you want to store these mushrooms, put them in a smallest size container that will hold all the mushrooms and then wrap the container with plastic wrap. Poke a few small holes in the plastic wrap to let air escape.
- Wild mushrooms keep better in a paper bag in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer. Paper allows for better air flow while the crisper drawer keeps the air slightly humid and prevents the mushrooms from drying out. It is better to consume mushrooms within one week after purchase.
- Actually mushrooms continue to grow after picking and refrigeration slows down their metabolism. For commercial mushrooms that are plastic wrapped in the grocery store, keep them directly in the refrigerator with their original packaging. Unopened packs can be stored up to 1 week
How to Clean Mushrooms?
Don’t soak mushrooms in water for cleaning purpose because mushrooms can absorb water. Usually black dirt will appear on the mushrooms. Rinse mushrooms under cold water thoroughly to remove black dirt. Most dirt should wash off; any spots that are toughened or bruised should be cut from edible flesh. Peel off and discard the outer layer of mushrooms. Cleaning them with water and then wiping them is more efficient than soaking in water.