Mushrooms are from the fungi family and are surprisingly packed full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. There are, many varieties each with their own unique appearance and flavour. They can be eaten raw in salads, or lightly cooked and are delicious in a variety of cuisines.
Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition!!
The nutrition content of mushrooms is truly amazing. They are great for vegetarians and vegans not only for their vitamin B content, but also for their meaty texture in dishes. They have a good protein and fibre content, and are around 90% water.
Mushrooms contain plenty of B vitamins ;
B1 Thiamine – great for enabling energy release from carbohydrates, good for nerves and muscles, and great for glucose metabolism.
B2 Riboflavin – fantastic for energy production, breaks down protein, fats and carbohydrates.
B5 Pentothenic Acid – vital for making blood cells.
B6 Niacin – good for cholesterol levels, circulation and the production of stress hormones.
B9 Folate – This plays an important role in red cell production and also cell division. It is essential for women planning pregnancy to start taking folate as it can prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly.
Mushrooms also contain potassium which is essential for heart function and regulation of blood pressure.
If mushrooms are grown in sunlight they will contain vitamin D.
Mushrooms also contain zinc for immunity and magnesium essential for nerve and muscle function.
Immunity and disease
Mushrooms are fantastic for immunity. They are rich in antioxidants (selenium, ergothroneine and phenolics) which are vital to good health. Antioxidants are powerful in maintaining good health as they remove free radicals from our bloodstream which, if left unchallenged, will multiply and cause destruction through disease and chronic illness. Some mushroom types are higher in antioxidants than others. But quite honestly, if you include mushrooms in your daily intake, you’ll be giving your immune system and general health a massive boost.
Beta glucans are sugars found in the cell walls of mushrooms. These have a special quality of boosting the immune system which may prevent tumours and fight cancer cells. Research has indicated that the powerful medicinal Maitake mushroom has shown promise in the treatment and prevention of lung and breast cancer.
The amazing benefit of plants in the treatment of cancer is that unlike chemotherapy, the healthy cells will be left unharmed whilst the cancer cells are destroyed. Mushrooms are already being used in Japan and China for cancer treatment in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
There is even research into the possibility that some compounds in mushrooms may be able to prevent or slow down the progression of Alzheimer disease.
You will hear me say this time and again. Prevention is key to good health and so much easier than trying to heal a sick body. By eating fresh foods and plenty of them as the bulk of your intake and drinking fresh filtered water, you will enjoy a fitter, happier disease free life and stay younger for longer!!
So organic? Well as I will always say organic is better and less stressful for our bodies than dealing will chemicals. With mushrooms however it’s the environment that they are grown in that is so important. They are like sponges and will absorb pollutants from the air and chemicals from the ground. Again locally grown are good especially if you know where they are grown.
Another option is to grow your own mushies. This is apparently very easy and on my list of to dos for 2019. If anyone has done this I would love to hear from you.
Types and uses in cooking
Mushrooms can be enjoyed cooked or raw. Unlike some foods, mushrooms retain most of their nutritional value when they are cooked. There are a good variety of mushrooms to choose from with varying flavours
Turkey Tail Mushroom
This mushroom has potent antioxidants and have powerful immune boosting properties. Although these can be used fresh, they are quite chewy so are usually found in teas or supplements.
These white tall mushrooms with a small cap are native to Japan and are readily available here in Australia. They have a mild flavour and a meaty pleasant texture. I love these in a vegetable Thai Curry.
These are commonly grown in Japan and China and have a chewy meaty texture. They have a strong earthy flavour which I find a little overpowering but tolerate due to their massive health benefits. These can also be found dried which can later be re-hydrated. They can be used as a meat substitute in many dishes.
These are a favourite of mine. They have a mild flavour with a rich meaty texture. Perfect for a meat substitute in any dish. They are great in stews, Thai curry or simply gently cooked in oil with garlic and herbs.
Portobello and Button Mushrooms
These are our everyday mushies. Portobello mushrooms are simply matured button mushrooms. They are darker on top with a stronger earthy flavour. These can be used raw or gently cooked in oil, and can be stuffed by removing the stalk and packing them full of anything you fancy. If you eat dairy cheese, chopped tomatoes garlic and herbs are great. Just drizzle with oil and gently bake until ready.
Button mushrooms are crisp with a mild flavour and can be enjoyed raw or cooked. Try cooking in some coconut or olive oil gently with garlic and herbs and toss onto a green salad The oil will serve as a fabulous dressing for the salad. Yum!
A favourite dish of mine is to gently cook the mushrooms in olive oil and garlic, add a little flour salt and pepper. Gradually stir in home made fresh cashew or almond milk to make a delicious sauce. If you or your children don’t like the taste or texture of mushrooms they can always be blended into a sauce. This can be enjoyed with pasta or rice.
If you have any mushroom recipes I’d love to hear from you. Please comment below.
We’ve looked at the amazing health benefits of mushrooms and their therapeutic ability to heal and remove free radicals. These are a must in your health journey and can easily be incorporated into your daily intake.
I always prefer to eat fresh organic foods where possible rather than taking powders and supplements. This is just my personal choice. I also have no chronic disease and have great energy levels so I take a preventative approach. If however you are struggling with health issues its well worth looking at supplements as they pack a good nutritional punch which may be necessary certain cases.
I would advise that you seek professional advice from a Naturopath so that your needs can be properly addressed.
If you have any questions please comment below.
Have a lovely day!
Deb x (The Organic Nut)