Mushrooms: The surprising truth

What you are about to read may shock you, but it’s true: food that’s good for you can actually taste good, too!

There are plenty of foods out there jam-packed with vitamins, minerals and flavour, and perhaps none is more surprising than the humble mushroom.

Neither a fruit nor a vegetable, this strange little fungus is a delicious addition to any meal. Better yet, it’s a staple of healthy eating, bringing some surprising health benefits to the (dinner) table.

Mushrooms with a spoon

The Health Benefits of Mushrooms

Mushrooms are delectable, and they can be prepared in so many different ways. For those of us trying to be more mindful of healthy eating, they’re also a great source of some otherwise-hard-to-find nutrients.

 

Here are some of the surprising health benefits of mushrooms.

 

  1. Most mushrooms provide the same amount of nutrients per serving, regardless of shape or size. So unless you’re picking your own wild mushrooms, which could be poisonous, feel free to indulge in whatever you like.
  1. Although they’re frequently classified as such, mushrooms aren’t vegetables – they’re actually fungi. This means that they absorb Vitamin D from the sun, just like we do, making them one of the only vegan food sources of Vitamin D.
    • Vitamin D regulates calcium absorption, providing vital maintenance on our bones and teeth.
  1. Mushrooms are a strong source of selenium, a mineral which works as an antioxidant to protect the body’s cells from damage that could result in heart disease or certain types of cancers. As with Vitamin D, mushrooms are one of the few non-meat sources of this vital mineral.
  1. According to multiple studies, mushrooms may boost the immune system by increasing the production of amino acids naturally produced by the body when it is under attack. These friendly fungi even contain natural antibiotics, similar to penicillin, which stop many infections before they get started.
    • Penicillin is derived from a fungus closely related to the mushrooms we eat.
  2. Mushrooms are a great food for diabetics, as they are relatively low in energy: no fats, no cholesterol and only low levels of carbohydrates. They even contain natural insulin, helping to break down sugar and starch in your system.

 

Some Mushrooms

Eating more mushrooms

Keeping in line with their quirky qualities, there are many ways of preparing mushrooms, making them an easy food to integrate with your healthy eating plan.

  • Mixing raw mushrooms, particularly white mushrooms, is a great way to top off your salad while adding a bit of protein to the plate
  • Sautéing mushrooms with onions and parsley makes an amazing side dish, in addition to providing your meal with a good source of minerals and amino acids
  • Stuffing and grilling portobello mushrooms with garlic, cheese and whatever else you fancy means you can centre an entire meal around this scrumptious food

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