Do you ever feel like some vegetables get a lot more love than others? For example, aren’t green, leafy veggies always the talk of the town? Well, lately I’ve been feeling that more love is needed for mushrooms.
Perhaps some of you are already a big fan and are like, “What do you mean, they’re amazing!” But my guess is that many of you are saying, “Oh yeah, I Room920 often forget about them!” Either way, let me take this time to reacquaint you with the mushroom.
Nutritional Benefits of Mushrooms
For starters, let’s be clear– just because a veggie isn’t green doesn’t mean it isn’t still packed with nutritional benefits. Mushrooms are a good source of B vitamins, such as riboflavin, folate, thiamine and niacin.
We need B vitamins because they help our body to metabolize the food we eat, form red blood cells and for our brain to function properly. Folate is especially important during pregnancy to help prevent neural tube defects.
Vitamin D, a vitamin that is needed for bone health, is not so easy to get naturally from the food we eat. Though vitamin D is plentiful in many fortified foods (like milk and cereal), mushrooms are one of the few natural vegan sources of vitamin D. All mushrooms contain some vitamin D, but growers also have the ability to increase D levels by exposing mushrooms to ultraviolet light.
According to the USDA, the recommended daily allowance for vitamin D is 600 IU for healthy individuals. Mushrooms, such as crimini, portabello and white button, that have been exposed to ultra-violet lighting have an average level of around 1000 IU per 84 grams.
When not exposed to UV lighting, the average is Health around 6 IU per serving. Most raw store-bought mushrooms that have the higher levels will indicate as such on their packaging.
And antioxidant-rich selenium, which may help protect the cells in our body from free radicals, has the highest content in mushrooms as compared to other fruits and veggies. Mushrooms are also a good source of potassium, known to help control blood pressure, and choline, which is important for brain health. Raw mushrooms are naturally low in sodium, range between 19 and 31 calories per a 3-ounce serving and contain zero fat.
Lastly, the fiber in mushrooms was found to act as a prebiotic that stimulated the growth of gut microbiota, conferring health benefits to the host, as revealed in a 2017 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Science.
One type of soluble fiber found in mushrooms is called beta-glucan and is similar to the main fiber in oats. Beta-glucan is beneficial for blood sugar and blood cholesterol management.
White button mushrooms are the most popular in the U.S. They have a mild flavor and are mostly found raw in a tossed salad or sautéed on top of a pizza or burger.
Shiitake mushrooms, with a meatier flavor, work best in stir-fry dishes and soups. Personally, I have always enjoyed shiitakes sliced into my home-made tomato sauce with lots of other veggies and herbs tossed with pasta.
Probably the one mushroom gaining the most popularity due to the growth of plant-based diets is the portabello (sometimes called portabella). It has a meat-like texture and is often grilled and served as a meat-less option to a burger. It’s delicious served with other grilled veggies in a sandwich or on its own with goat cheese and balsamic vinegar.
Crimini Mushrooms have an earthy flavor and are included a lot in beef dishes. Oyster mushrooms, which have a more delicate flavor, are often sautéed and served on top of steak. Beech, with its crunchy texture, is sometimes used as the last ingredient in a soup or stew to provide crispness to a dish.