The Benefits of Mushrooms

Although Mushrooms are classified as vegetables in the food world, they are not technically plants.  They belong to the fungi kingdom and can provide several important nutrients. Mushrooms are high in antioxidants, fiber, potassium, vitamin c, vitamin d and folate. Consuming mushrooms can decrease the risk of obesity and overall morality, diabetes and heart disease.  They also promote a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy and overall lower weight.

Mushrooms are naturally low in sodium, fat, cholesterol, and calories and have often been referred to as "functional foods." As well as 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 are rich in B vitamins which help the body to get energy from food, and they help form red blood cells. Mushrooms are also the only vegan, non-fortified dietary source of vitamin D. Dairy products are normally a good food source of vitamin D, but vegans do not consume any animal products, so mushrooms can offer an alternative source of this important vitamin.

Mushrooms also contain choline, an important nutrient 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.

When buying mushrooms at the market, chose ones that are firm, dry, and unbruised. Avoid mushrooms that appear slimy or withered. Store mushrooms in a paper bag in the refrigerator and do not wash or trim them until ready for use.

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While most of us are familiar with white or button mushrooms, other types are available. Quick tips for preparing mushrooms:

  • Sauté any type of mushroom with onions for a quick and tasty side dish

  • Add raw sliced crimini mushrooms or white mushrooms to top any salad

  • Make stuffed portobello mushrooms by filling them with your favorite ingredients and baking

  • Add sliced mushrooms to omelets, breakfast scrambles and quiches

  • Grill portobello mushrooms and use them on sandwiches or in wraps

  • Shiitake mushrooms can be sautéed in broth for a healthy side dish