14 reasons to eat mushrooms

Apr 28, 2015, 11:36 IST


Where do I even begin talking about this fungi, that most of us find difficult to even begin developing a taste for! Agreed the food seems a little alien, the texture and taste are both a little different from the other vegetables we are used to eating day in and day out. But trust me, it’s time to change that, because ignoring this humble food means giving the multiple health benefits it packs within it - a miss. And that’s not fair as there are just too many for easy picking.

There are a lot of varieties of mushrooms; out of an estimated 38,000 known species of mushrooms 700 are edible and 270 have therapeutic properties. White button mushrooms are more common, but maitake, shiitake, portobello, enoki, and reishi mushrooms are also easily available now, and are all extremely potent healers. In fact Dr John Wilkinson of Middlesex University, popularly known as the mushroom champion, believes that these fungi are so good that the next class of natural medicines will be mushrooms.

They’re really good!

The Greeks and Romans ate them for the strength before battles. And not without reason.
- They are low in calories (250 gm give just 80 calories),
- Have nil fat and cholesterol,
- Deliver good quality protein, and contain difficult-to-find antioxidant selenium.
- They help beef up our immunity immensely and studies show that they are cancer slayers and cholesterol controllers
Research conducted in Japan in the 1970s identified a specific amino acid in shiitake mushrooms that helps speed up the processing of cholesterol in the liver. Mushrooms also help soothe the stomach as they are easily digestible and thus help keep our gut healthy.

There’s more!

Researchers have found a specific, high-molecular polysaccharide in maitake mushroom called the X-fraction that has anti-diabetic properties. Reishi mushrooms have a very strong reputation going back thousands of years as an aches and pains reliever; they have been used for over 2,000 years in China and Japan to relieve the swelling and pain associated with arthritis. Reishi mushrooms also have a healing effect on the lungs and are particularly beneficial for individuals with asthma and other respiratory complaints.

So get them on your plate ASAP.

Tip: Next time you are making a meat dish replace half with mushrooms; the texture is similar and you’ll manage to cut loads of calories, salt and saturated fat with this one stroke.