Mushroom: Health Benefits and Nutritional Values

Several types of vegetables are used in the world as main source of food that sustains life on earth. The unique feature of vegetables is that most of the vegetables are widely consumed by human beings and animals alike in the raw form. Normally vegetables have bright colors that are the sign of high phyto nutrient content. Mushrooms are the exception to the bright colored vegetables that comes in white or brown color. Though mushrooms are popularly treated as vegetable it is an edible form of fungi. Its stem and the cap are edible having fleshy sponge texture. Though there are different varieties of mushrooms are available, Mushroom is usually related to the button mushrooms that are widely cultivated and consumed in the world. It is scientifically classified as Agaricus bisporus. It is believed form the historical evidences that mushrooms were used or domesticated in the 14th and 16th AD. The word mushroom is derived from the French word “mousseron. Among the edible form of mushrooms some varieties also contains toxic elements that is major drawback as any type of mushrooms cannot be used for edible purposes. The poisonous varieties are also referred as toadstool. Many mentions in the folk lore depict poisonous mushrooms as devils fruit. Some of the toxic varieties are Amanita phalloides that is also known as death cap mushrooms.

The edible versions of mushrooms are used in variety of cuisines around the world. Mushrooms are enriched with many vital nutrients. It used as soups, broths, snacks,  stew and in baked, fried, steamed and boiled forms along with spices, flavoring agents, other vegetables, meat, poultry and sea foods. Edible forms also possess various medicinal and nutritional properties that are goof for health and also prevent various ailments. In many traditional Chinese medicines mushrooms are used for curing minor infection to grace ailments. Apart from the health benefits the psilocybin mushrooms are known from early centuries for its psycho active abilities. In a study conducted by Johns Hopkins hospital it was revealed that psilocybin mushrooms relieve migraine aches and psychological disorder like obsessive compulsive disorder and have a way of spiritual concentration and healing. These types of mushrooms were used in many ancient ritual forms among the gypsies for curing several psychological disorders.

Several studies and researches have been conducted on the nutritional value of the mushrooms. The nutrient data base of USDA provides the vital nutrient ingredients of mushrooms. Though the white colored or button mushrooms and other edible variety lack color pigments, they are enriched with many vital nutrients. It has low calorie content of 27 K calories per 100g. It has rich protein content of 2.5 g per 100 g. It has carbo hydrates that provide instant energy. It has low fat content. The vitamin B complex compounds are also abundantly present in mushrooms. It has thiamine or vitamin B1, riboflavin or vitamin B2, niacin or vitamin B3, pantothenic acid or vitamin B5. It is also enriched with vitamin C. It is also enriched with minerals including calcium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium and zinc.

The immune system is strengthened by polysaccharides, glycoprotein and proteoglycans present in the edible mushrooms. It inhibits the tumor and cell growth in various cancers. The low fat content reduces the cholesterol level and improves the cardiovascular health by preventing heart diseases. The low fat content reduces the body weight and fight against obesity. This quality of mushroom in maintaining the body figure and fitness makes it a favorite of health conscious people and dieticians. The vitamin C content helps to prevent infections. The minerals like calcium and phosphorous improves the bone health by increasing bone density that prevents the breakage of bones. It also has powerful antibacterial, antiviral, anti inflammatory properties. The absence of sugar content helps to reduce the diabetic level. Mushroom included in a daily diet is quite essential and promotes proper health that improves all body functions.