The Magic of Mushrooms
It is time for the Magic Mushroom ride, and while we won’t be revisiting the ‘60’s, hopefully we’ll be covering some interesting information.
To the boards!
While mushrooms have historical significance dating back 4600 years to the days of the Pharaohs, modern cultivation really began in the 1800’s in France. Some people say that Louis XIV was the first mushroom grower.
Moving from France to England, mushrooms found their way across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States in the late 19th century. Starting out there were only a few successful growers in America, but by 1914 mushroom marketing began to play a much greater role in the industry because of the plethora of growers that had sprung up.
Before we get into what mushrooms can do for your health and fitness, let’s talk a little about the many types of mushrooms available at your local market. White button mushrooms are probably the most widely available and they are simply white mushrooms that come in small and large sizes. Then there are Portobello mushrooms, which are large brown mushrooms. Baby bellas, sometimes called cremini mushrooms are small brown mushrooms with a hearty flavor. Other mushrooms that may be slightly more difficult to find include shiitake, porcini and oyster mushrooms. Look at specialty stores or Farmer’s Markets for these mushrooms for maximum health benefits.
Possessing little to no calories and no fat, mushrooms are a good source of B vitamins, including riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid, which help to provide energy by breaking down proteins, fats and carbohydrates. One cup of mushrooms includes vitamins C, D, B6 and B12, plus large doses of riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid. These vitamins along with minerals like calcium, iron, potassium and selenium keep you fit and in good health.
Mushrooms contain an impressive amount of copper, which helps create red blood cells. One cup of button mushrooms fried for a few minutes supplies an adult with approximately one-third of the copper recommended for daily consumption. Copper provides free radical protection, helps the body absorb iron and assists in the formation of bone and the clotting of blood. A cup of portobello mushrooms supplies 20 percent of your daily value of potassium. Potassium helps the heart beat normally, helps balance the fluids in your body and supports the performance of muscles and nerves. One cup of cooked button mushrooms supplies about 16 percent of the daily value of iron, important for blood and energy, and about 12 percent of your daily value of vitamin C, important to the immune system.
They can be eaten raw, sautéed, boiled, baked, grilled or pickled. Mushrooms can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The distinctive flavor and texture of mushrooms makes them a fantastic choice to add to any of your favorite savory dishes. Toss some Button mushrooms in a salad, slice a few and sauté them for breakfast, or add some to your favorite spaghetti Bolognese sauce. They are also great on kebabs, added to meat pie fillings, served as a sauce with your favorite steak.
But don’t let the humble mushroom fool you. Hidden beneath its creamy white dome is a powerhouse of natural flavor and goodness. Neither a vegetable nor a fruit, mushrooms are a fungus that is unique in flavor. One of the great things about them is that there is practically no waste, so you get exactly what you have paid for.
4. Prostate Cancer Beware!
When it comes to selenium content, mushrooms surpass all other items in the produce category. A serving of Cremini (baby portabella) mushrooms provides almost one-third the RDA for selenium, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database. Portabellas and white mushrooms are also good selenium sources. With a significant amount of selenium in every serving, mushrooms could turn out to be important ingredients in a cancer-fighting diet, especially in lowering the risk of prostate cancer.
Selenium came to the forefront of prostate cancer research when, in 1996, skin cancer patients were given selenium to learn whether it would prevent recurrence. It had no effect on skin cancer, but researchers noticed that it did decrease prostate cancer by more than 60%.
Bet You Didn’t Know:
There are more than 38,000 different types of mushrooms, but not all of them are edible.
Many Roman emperors, Tiberius and Claudius included, were dispatched with the aid of the poisonous mushroom Amanita muscaria.
The largest living organism ever found is a honey mushroom, Armillaria ostoyae. It covers 3.4 square miles of land in the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon, and it’s still growing!
You mushroom lovers out there, head to your local Farmers Market, grab up some delicious fungi, and get your non-mushroom loving friends over for dinner. Make the entire meal based on mushrooms, including salad and main course, and see if we can get some converts out there!
What dishes would you make? Let us know in the comments below.