Are mushrooms the next superfood?
Welcome back! 😊
I hope that you're having a good week. My week is going really well. I started my day off today with some cycling which made me feel energised and happy.
Everything mushroom related seemed to come my way when I started to think about what I wanted to talk about this week. On further investigation, there is actually so much to know about mushrooms; so, let me update you.
Let's start with finding out what mushrooms actually are....
Mushrooms are NOT a vegetable; they are a species of fungi/fungus. They start as white fluff underground and grow above ground under the right conditions (Eg the right food, humidity and temperature).
Here is a timelapse of a mushroom growing - Pretty cool!
What are the most common types?
The most common types of mushrooms that can be found in your grocery store are below:
button or white mushroom
What are the health benefits of mushrooms?
Mushrooms have a magnitude of health benefits.
1. Mushrooms contain lots of VITAMINS AND MINERALS - Mushrooms contain fibre, B vitamins (B2, B3, folate and B5), Phosphorus, Vitamin D, Selenium, Copper, Potassium.
2. They contain ANTIOXIDANTS and have ANTI-INFLAMMATORY and ANTICANCER effects- Mushrooms contain plant substances such as polysaccharides, indoles, polyphenols, carotenoids and ergothioneine. This is what gives them the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects. A systematic review and meta-analysis published in April 2021 examined 17 cancer studies from 1966 to 2020. The 17 cancer studies contained over 19,500 cancer patients and investigated the link between mushroom consumption and cancer risk. This study found that those who ate only 18 grams of mushrooms daily had a whopping 45% lower risk of cancer compared to those who did not.
3. FIBRE FOR GUT HEALTH- mushrooms are a prebiotic fibre. That means they are food for gut bacteria. They help beneficial strains of bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium grow and thrive.
4. PROTEIN - Mushrooms contain lots of protein therefore are a great meat substitute.
What are the environmental benefits of mushrooms?
Mushrooms are actually beneficial to our environment too! Wheat Straw, poultry litter, organic materials, gypsum and water mix is the perfect food for mushrooms to grow. This gets added to soil and when mushrooms are harvested, the nutrient rich soil, goes back into the environment as potting mix/garden mulch.
Fun fact about mushrooms?
Mushrooms contain a plant sterol called ergosterol. Ergosterol coverts to vitamin D when exposed to UV light/ Sunlight. What that means? Mushrooms have a baseline level of Vitamin D but when exposed to the sun, the levels of vitamin D increase. We can therefore get additional vitamin D from mushrooms if we expose them to the sunlight before we eat or cook them. Next time you make a mushroom dish, consider sun-baking your mushrooms first to get the added vitamin D benefits.
Data Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central, 2019. fdc.nal.usda.gov. How to use Mushrooms?
You can eat them raw or cooked, add them to salads, pasta, stew, buddha bowls, risotto, soups and the list goes on...
Here is my chosen mushroom recipe for the week 😊 A Lentil and mushroom bolognaise.
Want to keep reading about mushrooms?
See the links below for further information.
Djibril M Ba, Paddy Ssentongo, Robert B Beelman, Joshua Muscat, Xiang Gao, John P Richie. Higher Mushroom Consumption Is Associated with Lower Risk of Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies. Advances in Nutrition, 2021; DOI: 10.1093/advances/nmab015
I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit more about mushrooms..
Until next time,
Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD)
Accredited Nutritionist (AN)