What’s In a Mushroom?

Last night I ate half the punnet of mushrooms in a quinoa mix. I put the quinoa on to simmer then diced the mushrooms and fried them in butter with garlic. When the quinoa was done I mixed in the mushrooms then added a chopped chilli and cubes of avocado. In my usual style, it was created from what I had around at the time and what I thought might go together. And it was very, very tasty.

As nice as standard cup mushrooms are, they don’t really taste of much on their own, so it’s hard to believe that they can be much good for us nutritionally. I decided to find out what the humble standard mushroom really has to offer . . .

So What Nutrients Do Mushroom Contain?

Not only are mushrooms low in calories and fat-free, they are also an important source of B vitamins for those of us who don’t eat meat and according to The Mushroom Council they are ‘the only natural fresh vegetable or fruit with vitamin D’.

It’s not all good news though. If you suffer from fungal or yeast infections you should avoid mushrooms as fungus and yeasty foods can exacerbate the problem.

Here’s the Nutritional Low-down:

• VITAMIN B2 (riboflavin) – helps in the maintenance of healthy red blood cells, fat metabolism and nerve transport.

• VITAMIN B3 (niacin) – promotes healthy skin and helps with fat metabolism and nerve transport.

• VITAMIN B5 (pantothenic acid) – important in the production of hormones, fat metabolism and maintenance of the nervous system.

• VITAMIN D – its major function is to absorb calcium and phosphorus to maintain bones.

• SELENIUM – an antioxidant that helps to protect our cells from damage, also important for immunity, fertility in men and the production of thyroid hormones.

• COPPER – helps to make red blood cells and collagen, carries oxygen and keeps bones and nerves healthy.

• POTASSIUM – maintains fluid and mineral balance, and helps to control blood pressure. Also involved in muscle contraction and nerve transmission.

• ERGOTHIONEINE – an antioxidant, important for immunity and the protection of cells.

It seems that the humble mushroom does have a lot to offer, especially when it comes to vitamin D, and the more antioxidants you can get in your diet the better. So grab a handful and chuck them on your plate, cooked or raw!

(Nutritional information researched from The Mushroom Council and Nutritional Biochemistry, a course book by Premier International for the Diploma in Nutritional Therapy.)

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