Do you consider  mushrooms  as vegetables? They should be, since they’re such perfect blend with most vegetables in soups, stir-fries and salads. Wrong!  Mushrooms  are in fact fungi which grow and feed on decomposing plants or trees.

Interestingly, some  mushrooms  grow only on certain trees or under certain conditions such as truffles. Truffles are so rare and difficult to find that their prices are many times more than that of shiitakes.

Furthermore, Chinese medicinal practices often use  mushrooms  such as reishi / lingzhi or shiitake for pain relief, allergies and colds.

Nutritional Values of  Mushrooms 

 Mushrooms  are abundant in fiber and contain almost no fat, sugar and salt. In fact, five pieces of shiitake  mushrooms  contain:

– 1 g of protein

– 0.1g fat

– 2.7g carbohydrate

– 0.5g fibre

– 16 calories

Because of their nutritional values,  mushrooms  are suitable for most people, including those suffering from heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

You can also find essential vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, biotin) and minerals (iron, selenium, potassium, phosphorus) in mushrooms . For example, selenium works well with vitamin E (antioxidant) to prevent prostate cancer. Potassium helps to lower blood pressure and reduce risk of stroke.

Proven Health Benefits of  Mushrooms 

More and more studies worldwide have proven the effectiveness of compounds in  mushrooms  against viruses, diseases and cancers.

1. Middlesex University in UK

 Mushrooms  may relieve fatigue caused by viral infections such as chronic fatigue syndrome, hepatitis C, or even the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) due to its anti-viral components.

2. Penn State University in US

When it comes to antioxidant level, portobello and crimini  mushrooms  are as powerful as carrots, broccoli and red peppers. Antioxidants are useful in preventing Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis and cancer. These two  mushrooms  contain two kinds of antioxidants, polyphenols and ergothioneine.

3. University of Illinois in US

Six specific  mushrooms  – white button, crimini, portobello, maitake, shiitake and enoki, are rich in dietary fiber like chitin and beta-glucan. Chitin lowers cholesterol while beta-glucan is good for the heart.

4. Oral Roberts University School of Medicine in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Reishi  mushrooms  can reduce blood pressure and strengthen immune system

5. National University of Singapore

A complex carbohydrate compound, lentinan, found in shiitake  mushrooms  has anti-viral and cancer-fighting properties. Another protein found in enoki also increases our immunity to fight cancer, allergies and viral infections.

Best Ways to Eat  Mushrooms  for Maximum Health Benefits

Eating deep-fried  mushroom  tempura or cheesy portobello  mushrooms  are not the healthiest way to enjoy the delicacies and fight cancer at the same time.

Each type of  mushroom  has its own distinct aroma and taste. Hence, they should be lightly stir-fried with a bit of coconut oil (coconut oil can help to fight cancer) to best retain its nutritional value and taste. You can even toss some  mushrooms  into your salad bowl – they sure can liven up your palate.

Dried and canned  mushrooms  provide almost the equivalent amount of calories, protein, fat and fiber as fresh  mushrooms . The only thing you have to take note is the high salt content in canned  mushrooms  which is added during the processing. They also contain lower vitamin B and potassium content compared to fresh and dried  mushrooms  which are lost in the water during processing.

As for dried  mushrooms , be sure to soak them in water after a quick rinse. What do you do with the  mushroom  water full of the cancer-fighting nutrients and flavor? Use it in cooking.

So can we eat  mushrooms  in abundance?

If you’re healthy, it’s absolutely fine to add  mushrooms  to any dish you love.

Though  mushrooms  are armed with lots of nutrition, they should not be eaten as a meal. That’s because  mushrooms  still lack certain nutrients such as vitamin C. Since it’s low in calorie,  mushrooms  also do not provide adequate energy for a normal person’s daily activities. Hence, for all its goodness, a healthy person can still eat  mushrooms  in moderation daily as part of a well-balanced diet.

Due to high potassium content of fresh  mushrooms , people with kidney disease, especially those serious cases and those on hemodialysis, should avoid eating this fungus. Kidney patients can still consume canned  mushrooms  and dried  mushrooms  which are lower in potassium, but eat in moderation. Be sure to soak and drain the  mushrooms  well before cooking.

Those suffering from gout and urate kidney stones should also cut down on  mushrooms , which contain moderate amounts of the organic compound purine. Excessive intake of purine may lead to an accumulation of uric acid, leading to the formation of urate crystals in the joints and kidneys.

Source by Laura Ng