Mushrooms can be a healthy option for a balanced diet. However, not all are safe for consumption.
Mushrooms come in all shapes, sizes and colors and those that are non-toxic are great additions to a varied diet, both for their flavor and their nutritional quality.
In addition to their nutritional interest, these foods are interesting from a culinary point of view, mainly due to their versatility and palatability. Mushrooms are actually fungi but, precisely because of their culinary uses, they are often included in the category of vegetables.
One of the greatest feats of mushrooms in gastronomy is their ability to add flavor to preparations without adding sodium or fat.
TYPES OF MUSHROOMS
The most common types of edible mushrooms are found in commercial stores, in the fresh, canned or frozen section, in mixtures or just one type. Are they:
- brown mushroom or Portobello;
- white mushroom;
- oyster mushroom;
When choosing fresh mushrooms, make sure they are firm and dry to the touch. They can be stored in paper bags, in the refrigerator, for up to 5 days. When fresh, before consumption, they must be washed and rinsed.
NUTRITIONAL CHARACTERISTICS OF EDIBLE MUSHROOMS
Despite differences in physical appearance, all edible mushrooms have very similar nutritional profiles, being naturally low in fat and sugars.
For every 70 g of raw product, mushrooms offer:
|of which sugars||1 g|
|Vitamin B2||22% of the recommended intake dose|
|Vitamin B3||16% of the recommended intake dose|
|Selenium||12% of the recommended intake dose|
|Phosphor||5% of the recommended intake dose|
The interesting selenium content means that these foods have a possible role in thyroid health.
MUSHROOMS AND POSSIBLE HEALTH BENEFITS
Prevention in some types of cancer
According to the National Cancer Institute, the antioxidant content of mushrooms may play a role in preventing some types of cancer, including lung, prostate and breast cancer .
In fact, a 2014 meta-analysis reports that mushroom intake may be inversely associated with the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women, but the effect needs to be studied further.
A 2015 systematic review reports that a compound present in mushrooms, polysaccharide K, can improve immune function, reduce the incidence of symptoms and increase the survival rate of patients with lung cancer.
In fact, one study evaluated daily intake of shiitake mushrooms and found that after one month, immunity markers and inflammation levels had improved. However, this study was carried out in healthy young adults, a population quite different from most cancer patients.
In this field of study, more studies are needed to confirm this association.
Still on this topic, another meta-analysis associates the consumption of Yun Zhi mushrooms with a higher survival rate in patients with breast, stomach and colorectal cancer. However, more studies are needed to elucidate the possible inclusion of these mushrooms in the treatment of these diseases.
Other sources suggest that selenium may help prevent these types of diseases, but according to the 2017 Cochrane review, there is not enough data to support such an assumption.
Type 2 diabetes prevention
Dietary fiber can help treat a number of metabolic diseases, including type 2 diabetes.
A 2018 review of meta-analyses concluded that people who eat more dietary fiber have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes and, in the case of those with this disease, these compounds help control blood sugar levels.
The current international recommendations for fiber intake vary with age, but, in general, they should be between 22.4 and 33.6 g/day and, in this sense, mushrooms can help achieve these values.
Regarding the impact of mushroom consumption on controlling type 2 diabetes, although some animal studies have detected a slight anti-diabetogenic effect, the truth is that only one study has detected a reduction in blood sugar levels in humans, but we still lack studies. That help confirm and determine the degree of this effect.
The dietary fiber present in mushrooms can also contribute to improvements in cardiovascular health. Studies confirm that a specific type of fiber, B-glucans, helps reduce cholesterol levels.
Coincidentally, these fibers are present in the cell walls of several mushrooms. However, there is no evidence to say that mushrooms can be used to treat cardiovascular risk factors, especially in diabetic people.
Although the effect of fiber is recognized, more clinical trials are needed to determine the effectiveness of mushrooms in human models.
Finally, a 2012 study found that consuming mushroom powder, containing the antioxidant ergothioneine, resulted in a significant reduction in triglyceride levels in participants in the intervention group.
However, this study has several design limitations and the number of participants is too small to be meaningful for the rest of the population.
Other supposed benefits
The effect of mushrooms on human health has been studied. Although promising results have been demonstrated in bone health, immune system and intestinal health, the truth is that most of the studies were carried out in animal models, so it is still impossible to draw conclusions about the same effects in humans.
HOW TO PREPARE MUSHROOMS?
Since mushrooms grow in the ground, there is a certain tendency that even packaged mushrooms still contain some soil. The secret to a tasty mushroom is to clean it without letting it absorb too much water.
To wash mushrooms, use running water, avoiding placing them in water for a long time. Most sliced mushrooms have already been washed beforehand, so the best way to clean them is to shake them in the container to loosen the soil and quickly rinse them under running water, then dry them.
For filling, the most popular are Portobello, Cremini and white mushrooms. To prepare them, the secret is to remove the stem and, using a spoon, scrape it from the outside to the inside.