Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Often overshadowed by the brighter colored veggies that boldly showcase their phytonutrients, the mushroom seems to pale in comparison. However, the mushroom's reputation as a nutritional lightweight is beginning to change.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released nutrient data for the seven most commonly eaten mushrooms-cremini, enoki, maitake, oyster, portabella, shiitake and white button. The data reveals that mushrooms contain surprising levels of nutrients including fiber, B vitamins and the minerals selenium, potassium and copper. Providing about 4 percent of the daily value per serving, mushrooms also are one of the only plant sources of vitamin D. A single serving of white button mushrooms could contain almost nine times the daily value of vitamin D after exposure to only five minutes of UV light. This would make it a richer source than two tablespoons of cod liver oil, one of the best current sources of the vitamin.
Scientists are unearthing more potential health benefits linked to mushrooms. There are a number of mushrooms that appear to help the body fight cancer and build the immune system - Shiitake, maitake, reishi, Agaricus blazei Murill, and Coriolus Versicolor. These mushrooms contain polysaccharides, especially Lentinan, powerful compounds that help in building immunity. They are a source of Beta Glucan. They also have a protein called lectin, which attacks cancerous cells and prevents them from multiplying. They also contain Thioproline. These mushrooms can stimulate the production of interferon in the body.
Mushrooms can also aid in weight loss. They are about 90 percent water, making them low in calories (about 20 kcal per serving)and virtually fat free. One study found that participants saved 350-400 kcal a day using mushrooms in place of meat in lasagna, chili and other entrees.
So how can you incorporate more mushrooms into your kitchen? Add crunchy raw enokis to salads or soup. Stir-fry almost any fresh mushroom or saute with garlic and toss with pasta. op steaks, chicken and omelets with sauteed mushrooms. Creminis, which resemble brown button mushrooms, may be eaten oven roasted with a drizzle of olive oil and eaten hot or allowed to cool and toss into a salad. Portabellas are perfect for brushing with sesame oil and soy sauce and grilling. Dried mushrooms, such as porcini and shiitake, add flavor to stocks, sauces and risotto. Just cover the mushrooms with hot(not boiling) water and soak them for 15 minutes before using...then eat up!!

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