“food be your medicine, let medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates –
The often repeated adage that food is the fuel for living cannot be more apt. However, what should not be lost sight of is the fact that the right food acts as medicine for our systems. It would be an incorrect perspective to state that healthy food is a most powerful tool to create as well as maintain optimal health. Mushrooms have proved to be one such superfood. They contain an extremely rich reservoir of vitamin D, selenium, riboflavin and copper. Moreover, all essential amino acids are also present in this functional fungi. A generous serving of fresh mushrooms provides approximately 70 kcal to our bodies. Though there are a variety of mushrooms which occur abundantly, the most commonly used are as brought out :-
Button Mushrooms – This variety of mushroom is the most common throughout the globe and are abundantly available in grocery stores. By virtue of having an inherent ability to suppress markers which lead to a reoccurrence of cancers especially prostrate cancer, button mushrooms are also known to boost the immune system effectively.
Oyster Mushrooms – These mushrooms are a very rich source of antioxidants and moreover, also produce statins which facilitate lowering cholesterol as well as the increased triglycerides levels in our system. Further, oyster mushrooms are an excellent source of proteins and the presence of folic acid helps to address the issue of anaemia. As a matter of caution, it is advised that a small amount be tried first since they may cause indigestion in some people or some might even be allergic to it.
Shitake Mushrooms – Due to its immense medicinal properties coupled with the nutritional value that it inherently possesses, shitake is a very popular variety of edible mushroom and second to button mushrooms in terms of the vastness of cultivation. It contains a high percentage of dietary fibers and the health benefits include antimicrobial, anticancer, hypocholesterolemic as well as antidiabetic activities. They have always been an automatic alternative to vegetarians for the ‘protein option’.
It should always be kept in mind that mushrooms should be cooked well due to the fact that the cooking heat softens the wall of mushrooms and even the medicinal benefits get enhanced substantially once heated. It is indeed ironical that inspite of being aware of the health benefits of mushrooms, a majority of us still do not include this fungi in our routine diets. An alternative way to intake mushrooms in our diets is by having dried mushrooms and mushroom powders.
Though fresh mushrooms offer the maximal health benefits, mushroom powders make it convenient to have it frequently especially for those whos have not taken to its taste. To enhance the proportion of vitamin D in mushrooms, they could be exposed to sunlight for twenty to thirty minutes and more importantly, they should be placed ‘bottoms up’ so that the undersize of caps get exposed to valuable sunlight.