Mushrooms have been used for centuries for their medicinal properties and immune boosting support as well as providing a more dense and “meaty” texture in plant-based diets.
Mushrooms come in many varieties. Mushrooms, which are technically a fungus, come in several varieties include white button, portabella, crimini, shiitake, oyster, maitake, etc. Each mushroom has their own unique taste and texture, but all mushrooms have an earthy flavor with a tender texture to them. Mushrooms can be included in many dishes and appreciated for their added nutrition and antioxidant benefits.
How to Use:
Use raw, roasted, sauteed, or general cooking. Use in dressings, sauces, salads, stir-frys, Asian cuisines, etc. My favorite way to include mushrooms into my diet is through roasting (around 350 degrees F for 45 minutes or so until they’re tender yet firm), perfect to add to any dish for a “meaty” texture. I also enjoy portobello “hamburgers”.
Nutrient Breakdown of Mushrooms:
*per 100g, ~1 cup raw
Protein — 1 cup raw mushroom contains 3g protein
Vitamin D — 5% DV
Vitamin C — 4% DV
Vitamin B2 — 24% DV
Niacin — 18% DV
Vitamin B5 — 15% DV
Potassium — 9% DV
Phosphorus — 9% DV
Copper — 16% DV
Selenium — 13% DV
CLA (conjugated linolenic acid)
Mushrooms have been shown to help support the immune system due to the high amounts of antioxidants especially selenium, zinc, and manganese. All of these minerals are incredibly important for immune function. Mushrooms also contain unique molecules that help prevent oxidative damage to our DNA cells and proteins (ergothioneine, superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase). Mushrooms are also great for fighting inflammation in the body, such as in type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Mushrooms essentially block pro-inflammatory molecules (i.e. inflammation from IL-10, IL-12, and IFN inflammatory molecules), especially those coming from crimini mushrooms.
The overall antioxidant molecules, vitamins, and minerals found in mushrooms make them great for overall cardiovascular support and have been shown to help protect against certain types of cancer. CLA (conjugated linolenic acid) is found in mushrooms and is a type of fatty acid that may bind to cancer cells lessening their ability to produce estrogen- this is particularly beneficial in hormone-related cancers such as breast and prostate.
The vitamin D content found in mushrooms are those that have been exposed to UV lighting, the natural compounds in mushrooms produce vitamin D2. Mushrooms have also been used medicinally for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine and more using them as tinctures or teas from soaking dried mushrooms.
Where to Purchase:
Health food stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, or online retailers (dried varieties)
Tips and Tricks:
When cleaning mushrooms, wash by using a wet cloth or paper down and clean individually instead of rinsing them under water, this keeps the moisture content in mushrooms lower (they’re like little sponges!) from turning mushy or “going bad”.
Some people may be allergic to mushrooms and experience an “oral allergy syndrome” where one may have an itchy throat, nose, ears, etc. Mushrooms may also be an allergen food for some and cause anaphylactic shock. The former, oral allergy syndrome, is not as severe as an attack and can be moderately tolerable with some.