Mushrooms have a myriad of health benefits and should be a constant part of a healthy diet and eating plan. They are generally classified as fungi. Fungus plants cannot obtain energy for photosynthesis; instead they reproduce by spores in the dark. These primitive plants have been eaten as food and used as medicine since ancient times. Evidence of this was provided by 5000 year old Oetzi the Iceman whose well preserved body was found in the Tyrolean Alps; he had in his possession two different species of dried mushrooms.
These days, mushrooms are now commercially cultivated and have been recognized as an excellent low calorie food ( a 100g contains only about 13 kcal) that can easily be used to replace meat in a meal. They are rich in hunger satieting fibre and are virtually fat free. Mushrooms are a good source of B vitamins like riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid and also essential minerals, selenium,phosphorus and potassium- which can help lower blood pressure.
Mushrooms have been a staple of many Asian diets for a very long time and thus extensive studies have been carried out by Japanese scientists in investigating the health benefits of consuming them. These studies have shown that some of these mushroom species may help the immune system with potential benefits in fighting cancer and infection; this may be as a result of its high contents of glutamic acid ( an amino acid that has been identified to be instrumental in fighting off infections). Shiitake mushroom for example, contain eritadenine which promotes cholesterol excretion thereby helping to lower cholesterol; it also contain lentinan a phytochemical that may help stimulate the immune system.
For the health benefits of these fungi plants, shouldn’t we regularly consume them? Care should however be taken to eat only mushrooms you are sure about as eating wild mushrooms can lead to a severe case of poisoning or even death.Many common species of wild mushrooms produce toxins that can quickly become lethal when eaten raw or cooked hence extreme caution should be practiced when choosing wild mushrooms as the poisonous ones cannot easily be told apart from the edible ones; be sure to let only a mushroom expert certify them edible for you.
You can also prepare dried mushrooms; just note that they are more concentrated in flavor and nutrients that their fresh counterparts. Fresh mushrooms can be eaten raw or cooked and is an excellent replacement for high calorie foods in your meals. In doing this, you will increase your fibre intake and reap all the benefits inherent in consuming them.