Health Benefits of Mushroom
Almost all of us are familiar with mushrooms and their miraculous and magical powers. Particularly those who have read or heard a lot of fairy-tales such as Alice in Wonderland, Three Bears and a Baby etc. or those who have been playing the Super Mario Brothers.
You have seen mushrooms making somebody big or playing shields against the dreaded monsters. Actually, these are just symbolic representations of the actual health benefits of mushrooms. Believe me! They can really make you big and protect you against diseases and infections, as they are full of proteins, vitamins and minerals, amino acids, anti biotic and anti oxidants.
Mushrooms are edible fungi bearing a common scientific name “Agaricus”, having different names for different species. They are essentially Saprophytes, the organisms (plants without chlorophyll) which thrive by extracting nutrients from the dead and decaying plant and animal matters. They vary greatly in their color, texture, shape and properties.
Health benefits of mushroom
Cholesterol Levels: Mushrooms themselves provide you with lean proteins as they have zero cholesterol, fats and very low carbohydrates. The fiber and certain enzymes in them also help lower cholesterol level. Moreover, the high lean protein content in mushrooms helps burn cholesterol when they are digested.
Breast Cancer & Prostrate Cancer: Mushrooms are very effective in preventing cancer of breast and prostrate due to presence of Beta-Glucans and conjugated Linoleic Acid having anti carcinogenic effects. Out of these two, linoleic acid is particularly helpful in suppressing effects of estrogen. This estrogen is the prime reason for breast cancer in women after menopause. The Beta-Glucans, on the other hand, inhibit growth of cancerous cells in cases of prostrate cancer. Selenium in mushrooms is very effective in inhibiting cancerous cells.
Diabetes: Mushrooms can be an ideal low energy diet for diabetics. They have no fats, no cholesterol, very low carbohydrates, high proteins, vitamins and minerals, a lot of water and fiber. Moreover, they contain natural insulin and enzymes which help breaking down of sugar or starch of the food. Again, they are known to contain certain compounds which help proper functioning of liver, pancreas and the other endocrinal glands, thereby promoting formation of insulin and its proper flow. Diabetics often suffer from infections, particularly in their limbs, which tend to continue for long. The natural antibiotics in mushrooms can help protect them from this dreaded situation too.
Immunity: Ergothioneine, a powerful anti oxidant present in mushrooms is very effective in giving protection from free radicals as well as boosting up immunity. Mushrooms contain natural antibiotics (similar to penicillin, which itself is extracted from mushrooms) which inhibit microbial and other fungal infections. They also help heal ulcers and ulcerous wounds and protect them from infections. A good combination of vitamins A, B-Complex and C, found in mushrooms also strengthens immune system.
Weight Loss: Would you believe me if I say that a totally lean protein diet is ideal for losing fat and building muscle mass? Perhaps no! But it is true. A lot of fats are burnt to digest (break-down) proteins in the food, more so when the protein is accompanied by a very low carbohydrate, zero fats and cholesterol and a good amount of fiber. This is exactly what mushrooms offer.
Other Benefits: Mushrooms are the only vegetable and the second known source (after cod liver oil) to contain vitamin-D in edible form. They are rich in calcium (good for bones), iron (benefits in anemia), potassium (very good for lowering blood pressure), copper (anti bacterial) and selenium (very good for health of bones, teeth, nails, hair and as an anti oxidant). The best source of selenium is animal proteins. So, mushrooms can be the best choice for vegetarians to obtain selenium.
Few Words of Caution: Let me put it very straight without any word of condolence. Mushrooms can even kill! Most of the mushrooms are not edible, are highly poisonous and look strikingly similar to their edible counterparts. Even certain edible mushrooms can go poisonous depending upon the substance they grow on. Don’t ever try picking them up from woods unless you identify them very well. Do not trust on the unknown vendors too. Always trust sealed products from reputed companies or those which you grow yourself under controlled conditions after buying their seeds (called spawns) from trusted source. Because a single poisonous mushroom among others can send a whole lot of people to coma, induce severe poisoning symptoms, nausea, vomiting, convulsions, cramps, insanity or worst, can kill them. Avoid eating discolored mushrooms or those which are different in color than the characteristic color of their species.
This article was contributed by Aparup Mukherjee.