The Nutritional Power of Mushrooms
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Mushrooms have been consumed for centuries because of their unique taste and the meaty texture they add to a variety of dishes. In fact, mushrooms provide a fifth taste sense known as “umami,” which describes a savory flavor. There are more than 2,000 varieties of edible mushrooms in all shapes and sizes!
Mushrooms are low in calories and packed with vitamins and minerals including iron, potassium and vitamin D. One cup of raw sliced mushrooms contains only 20 calories, 2 grams of dietary fiber and zero grams of fat and cholesterol.
Mushrooms contain one of the highest levels of antioxidants of any food, and they are especially notable for containing ergothioneine and selenium. These antioxidants have been found to boost the immune system and protect the body from free radicals and cell damage.
Vitamin D, which is widely found in mushrooms that are exposed to sunlight, is an essential nutrient for bone development and strengthening because it helps with the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorous. A constant supply of these nutrients can reduce joint pain and bone degradation while also lowering the risk of osteoporosis. Mushrooms offer more than 20 percent of the RDA (recommended dietary allowance) for vitamin D.
Fiber and other enzymes found in mushrooms have been known to improve cholesterol levels by increasing the “good” HDL cholesterol and lowering the “bad” LDL cholesterol. Mushrooms also contain potassium, which acts as a vasodilator and reduces the tension in blood vessels, and therefore reduces blood pressure.
Various cancer-fighting polysaccharides (complex carbohydrates) are found in mushrooms, including beta-glucans and linoleic acid, which have anti-carcinogenic effects. Beta-glucans inhibit the growth of cancerous cells in cases of prostate cancer and have shown antitumor properties. Linoleic acid is helpful in suppressing the harmful effects of excess estrogen, which has been found to reduce the risk of breast cancer in women after menopause.
Purchasing and Storing
When purchasing mushrooms, look for a firm texture, even color and tightly closed caps. Be sure to avoid mushrooms with dark or wet spots, or a mildew-like smell. Store mushrooms in their original packaging and refrigerate for 3 to 4 days, or refrigerate in a paper bag for up to one week. When you are ready to cook them, simply rinse them and pat them dry or wipe them with a damp paper towel.
Sauté mushrooms with a small amount of olive oil to bring out their distinct flavor
Roast or grill mushrooms to enhance their natural sweetness
Stir-fry sliced mushrooms with other vegetables for a healthy and delicious side dish
Add to any omelet or breakfast egg dish for a boost in nutrients
Stuff mushrooms for a quick and tasty appetizer
Mix mushrooms into your favorite pasta sauces
Top or layer mushrooms on sandwiches, pizzas or salads
If you are looking for a low calorie, nutrient-dense food to add to enhance any meal, mushrooms are the perfect fit!
For more information about nutrition consultations through Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, visit cooperclinicnutrition.com or call 972.560.2655.
Article provided by Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services.