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Health Benefits for 7 Common Edible Mushrooms

 Although most of us buy mushrooms in the produce department, they are not actually a vegetable or a plant - they are a wonderful living organism whose health benefits are great and plentiful. Mushrooms are a food that is packed with all the good nature can offer us. Whether cultured or grown on a farm, mushrooms are a good source of B vitamins, iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and antioxidants, and have almost no fat, cholesterol, sodium or calories.


In addition to the nutrients available in all mushrooms, the different types of mushrooms have unique values and advantages, and a recommended method of cooking. The health benefits of the 7 most common and tasty mushrooms can be found in the following article.


1. Forest mushrooms

The forest mushroom is grayish and has a fleshy texture, making it a great substitute for meat. It is also a good source of protein, which accounts for 30% of its dry weight. These mushrooms are full of health benefits and contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that protect body tissues and prevent disease. The mushroom contains a unique acid called monacolin K, which resembles the chemical composition of an active ingredient in cholesterol-lowering drugs. The acid works to inhibit the production of the enzyme involved in the formation of harmful cholesterol fat.

Forest mushrooms can be a great complement to soups, pastries, and pasta and can be roasted on the grill and used as an alternative to chicken or meat dishes, or combined with other vegetables as a lovely side dish. Forrest mushrooms have proven advantages in preventing the development of cancerous tumors. According to a study published in 2008, an alcoholic extract of the mushroom inhibits the development of colon and breast cancer cells without significantly affecting healthy cells.


2. Shitake mushrooms

Shitake is a cap mushroom that grows on trees and has been used extensively for thousands of years in Chinese folk medicine and in the herbal industry. Shitake has the ability to absorb flavors, so it is recommended to stir fry for a short amount of time to prevent it from absorbing large amounts of water and to protect its many beneficial components. The unique health benefits of the Shitake stem from its polysaccharide component - a complex carbohydrate (more than two units of sugar linked together) that prevents viral and bacterial infections and reduces the amount of cholesterol in the blood.

In a study of the daily consumption of these mushrooms, published in 2015, researchers found a significant improvement in the body's immune system and decreased inflammation. Shitake also has the ability to prevent heart disease because it protects the body from accumulating plaque on blood vessel walls by inhibiting the action of the protein that acts as a glue between the plaque and the organs. The mushroom is also known to inhibit the development of cancerous tumors - especially when it comes to colorectal cancer.


3. Enoki mushrooms

Enoki mushrooms are similar in appearance to a bouquet of flowers made up of many thin, long mushrooms. The Enoki has a crisp texture and is a little sweet and fruity. To use Enoki, remove the base of the cluster and make sure to cook them for a short amount of time in stir-fries, salads or soups, to avoid hardening of the mushrooms. Due to the extremely short shelf life of these mushrooms, it is recommended to purchase completely fresh mushrooms with caps that are hard to the touch.

The vitamin B rich Enoki, also contain cytosine - a component that prevents fat absorption and lowers blood cholesterol - and will help you reduce the amount of fat stored in your body, especially in your stomach. In addition, the Enoki is full of fiber that prevents digestive problems and balances blood sugar levels.


4. Shimeji mushrooms

Shimeji mushrooms, like Enoki, grow like a cluster and come in both white and brown. The Shimeji has a relatively long shelf life, and it is highly recommended to cook them before they are consumed, even in slow cooking, because of their bitterness. You can incorporate them in frittatas, soups, pasta, and casseroles.

The mushrooms are traditionally used in asthma treatments due to the presence of beta-glucan in them, which suppresses allergic reactions, increases immune function and according to the National Cancer Institute in Japan, even has the ability to reduce and destroy cancerous tumors that developed in the body. In addition, Shimeji is rich in antioxidants and protects our body from free radicals that negatively affect the aging processes of the body's cells.


5. Porcini mushrooms

The Italian porcini mushrooms have a plump base and large-cap. The mushrooms are characterized by a strong nutty flavor that comes from the chestnut trees on which they grow. The nutritional value and aroma of the mushrooms are preserved by the natural sun drying process, and they are recommended for use – after soaking in hot water - in sauces and dishes, such as risotto, and soups.

These mushrooms have a very high concentration of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, relative to other mushrooms. Porcini are also rich in potassium, calcium, and phosphorus, and the alkaloids (organic compounds based on nitric acid) found in them help to treat angina. Another important component of this mushroom is Beta Glucan, which while found in other mushrooms as well, is most concentrated in Porcini. Beta Glucan is essential for cardiovascular health.


6. Champignon mushrooms

The Champignon mushroom is the most popular and common mushroom in the world. Thanks to its delicate taste, it is able to integrate into an infinite variety of foods; from sauces to soups, salads and as a side to various meat dishes. The Champignon mushroom has a special carbohydrate that stirs the metabolism and helps in the process of burning fats and maintaining blood sugar levels.

Champignon also has a high percentage of selenium which, besides its weight loss advantages, is also known to prevent the formation of prostate cancer. Studies on the health effects of folic acid intake - which can also found in champignon mushrooms - have shown its beneficial effect in preventing colon, pancreatic, breast and intestinal cancer.


7. Portobello mushrooms

The beefy Portobello is the most common meat substitute among the mushrooms and is used by many vegans and vegetarians to make veggie burgers or meatless meatballs. The large mushroom can also be served stuffed, in pasta, or stir-fried. The Portobello is rich in minerals, vitamin B, and fiber that helps prevent constipation and even contributes to the treatment of diabetes.

Since the mushroom consists of 60% water, eating it will help prevent dehydration. Another advantage of the Portobello is its selenium content, which reduces the risk of cancer and reduces the growth rate of malignant cells in people who already have cancer. In addition, the high-dose of linoleic acid in these mushrooms reduces the risk of certain types of breast cancer.

image source: m.shattock
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