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Mushrooms- Types, Nutrition, and Health Benefits

A succulent piece of mushroom in your hot chicken clear soup makes the soup taste so delicious! Welcome to the world of mushrooms – one of the tastiest and healthiest thing to eat. In this article, we will know more about mushrooms, various types of mushrooms, nutritional values and health benefits of mushrooms.

What are Mushrooms?

Mushrooms are a type of fungus. The fruiting body of fungus that appears above the ground is fleshy in texture. Therefore, mushrooms cannot be classified as either a fruit or a vegetable. They are quite simply a special category of fungus. While all mushrooms can be classified as fungi, not all fungi can be classified as mushrooms. Mushrooms are hugely popular for the woody and earthy flavor that they impart to foods. Mushrooms are extremely versatile and can be used in a wide variety of cuisines.

Various types of mushrooms

Now let us take a look at the various kinds of mushrooms which are available worldwide:

  1. Portabello mushroom

One of the commonly used mushrooms are Portabello mushrooms. Portabello mushrooms are used for adding texture and depth to the sauces. They have a meaty texture and are very delicious. Portabello mushrooms are widely used in Italian cuisine. The easiest way to cook Portabello mushroom is to saute them or grill them in the oven. Portobello mushrooms offer important vitamins including Vitamin B.

  1. Shiitake mushroom

Shiitake mushroom is widely recognized for its medicinal properties. It is very popular in Asian cuisine. Shiitake mushrooms form the base of Japanese miso soups. Chinese cuisine also makes use of Shiitake mushrooms by sauteeing them in various dishes. Shiitake mushrooms can be also consumed raw. Shiitake mushrooms are a powerhouse of Vitamin B5 and minerals such as magnesium and potassium.

  1. Maitake mushroom

Maitake mushroom is another medicinal mushroom. It usually grows in Japan, North America and China. Maitake mushroom is widely used in Asian cuisine. Maitake mushrooms are also very rich sources of vitamins B and C, potassium, amino acids and have anti-cancer properties. Maitake mushrooms can be seared or stir fried for consumption.

  1. Button mushroom

One of the most popular form of mushrooms are white button mushrooms. Button mushrooms are inexpensive but offer a wide range of health benefits. Button mushrooms can be used in a wide variety of recipes such as stir fries, soups, gravies and grills. White button mushrooms can be also used and adapted for a variety of Indian recipes. These mushrooms are very rich in selenium and vitamin D.

  1. Crimini mushroom

These mushrooms are a matured variety of white button mushrooms. These mushrooms can be used for cooking pasta sauces and soups. Crimini mushrooms are a very rich source of Vitamin B12 and are therefore very popular with health fanatics.

  1. Enoki mushroom

Enoki mushrooms are white, long and thin. They are widely used in east Asian cuisine. Enoki mushrooms are very mild in flavor. They are usually sautéed or stir fried. Enoki mushrooms are also used in preparing ramen soups. These mushrooms are a very rich source of copper, selenium, iron and zinc. These mushrooms also provide proteins and complex carbohydrates to the body.

  1. Oyster mushroom

Up next are oyster mushrooms. Slightly pinkish in color, these are another bunch of delicious edible mushrooms. Oyster mushrooms are very versatile and have a wide variety of uses. Research has shown that oyster mushrooms can help curb the problem of high cholesterol and has anti-cancer properties. Oyster mushrooms are also cultivated in India and are used in a wide variety of Indian recipes.

  1. Black trumpet mushroom

This dark colored mushroom which appears like a wilted flower is loaded with a lot of health benefits. These mushrooms have a fruity aroma and woody flavor. Black trumpet mushrooms are great for egg based recipes. These mushrooms are also very helpful in controlling cholesterol and have anti-cancer properties.

  1. Chanterelle mushroom

These mushrooms are shaped like a funnel and are very meaty in flavor. Chanterelle mushrooms are one of the most commonly eaten variety of wild mushrooms.  Chanterelle is used in the preparation of creams sauces and soups. It is also a very rich source of potassium and Vitamin B3.

  1. King trumpet mushroom

Thick and stumpy, King trumpet mushrooms are a type of oyster mushroom. These mushrooms are one of the largest oyster mushroom species available in the world.  These mushrooms are also known for their long shelf life and the excellent taste that they impart to the recipes in which they are used. King trumpet mushrooms are a powerhouse of Niacin and pantothenic acid.

  1. Beech mushroom

These mushrooms are native to Asia. In its raw form, Beech mushrooms have a strong aroma and impart a rich buttery flavor once cooked. Beech mushrooms pair very well with vegetable stir fries and stews. Beech mushrooms are a very rich source of antioxidants and Vitamin B complex.

  1. Porcini mushroom

If you need a nutty flavor, look no further. Porcini mushrooms are the answer. Porcini mushrooms are native to Italy and are widely used in Italian cuisine. These mushrooms are usually coveted for their thick stem. Porcini mushrooms are very rich in protein and serve as an excellent substitute of animal protein for vegetarians.

 

Nutritional Value of Mushrooms

As described above, all forms of mushrooms are a great source of vitamins and minerals. An increased consumption of mushrooms can help fight cancer, cholesterol and diabetes. Since mushrooms are low in sodium and calories, they are often the go to food suggested by the dieticians. Mushrooms are also a rich source of folic acid which is essential for pregnant woman. Mushrooms also contain beta glucan which is helpful in lowering blood cholesterol levels and improve insulin resistance.

 

10 Health Benefits of Mushrooms:

 

  1. Weight management

Since mushrooms are low in calories, they are an excellent snack for weight watchers.  Mushrooms act as bulking agents in the body and keeps you fuller for longer periods.

  1. Increases immunity

Consumption of mushrooms is particularly useful for boosting immunity in the body. Mushrooms contain an important mineral called selenium. Selenium helps in the production of T cells which are an integral part of antibodies which are produced in the body.

  1. Improves the heart

Mushrooms contain several important minerals and fibers which are essential for maintaining good heart health. Since mushrooms are high in potassium, they help in lowering the blood pressure which keeps the heart health in check. For example, the stem of shiitake mushrooms are a very good source of beta glucans which maintains good heart health.

  1. Increases longevity

Since mushrooms contain antioxidants, the chances of ageing are reduced significantly. Antioxidants play an important role in protecting the cells from free radicals which accelerates ageing. Therefore, consuming mushrooms may help you lead a longer life.

  1. Improves digestion

Mushrooms contain several probiotics which are extremely essential for maintaining good gut health. A good gut prevents the body from contracting several deadly diseases. Hence, it improves digestion.

  1. Anti cancer properties

Regular consumption of mushrooms can keep cancer at bay. Research has shown that women who consume mushrooms were less likely to develop breast cancer. Mushroom contains  proteins which encourage our immune system to fight cancerous cells.

  1. Increases iron absorption

Presence of copper in the body is essential for the absorption of iron. As indicated above, mushrooms are a rich source of copper and therefore increase iron absorption.

  1. Improves bone health

Mushrooms contain a high amount of calcium which is essential for increasing bone density. Sufficient amounts of calcium ensure that the body is protected against bone diseases such as osteoporosis.

  1. Prevents diabetes

Since mushrooms regulate insulin resistance in the body, they are extremely useful in fighting diabetes. Mushrooms also contain certain compounds which are critical for the healthy functioning of liver and endocrine glands.

  1. Treats anemia

Mushrooms are also a good source of iron and are particularly useful for patients who have low hemoglobin. Increased iron content ensures that sufficient red blood cells are created in the body, hence treating anemic patients.

 

So what are you waiting for? Go pick out your favorite mushroom recipe and eat to your heart’s content!

Sagar Papneja

For me, health is about sustainable living and consuming environmentally conscious food; I am a vegan.

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