A mushroom is the spore-bearing, fleshy, fruit body of a fungus. This growth is typically produced in soil or growing from its food source. The description of a mushroom typically applies to fungi with a cap, gills and pores on the underside of their cap. This can also apply to a variety of fungi without stems, depending on the context. While some mushrooms are not fit for human consumption, there are a number of mushrooms that are a part of the regular human diet. These mushrooms have a number of health benefits that are worth noting when selecting a diet program or planning your own mushroom diet.
8 Types of Mushrooms and Their Health Benefits
- White mushrooms: White mushrooms may describe Portobello, button or cremini mushrooms. These mushrooms contain carbohydrates that will increase your metabolism, allowing you to maintain healthier blood sugar levels. Due to this increase in metabolism function, white mushrooms are commonly associated with substantial weight loss. White mushrooms also contain high levels of selenium which can help prevent prostate cancer.
- Shiitake mushrooms: Shiitakes contain lentinan, a natural ingredient that is known to break up tumors. They also contain high doses of vitamin D which can help your body fight off infections more effectively.
- Maitake mushrooms: Ingredients in maitake mushrooms can help the body locate abnormal cells and destroy them. These ingredients also release immune system cells that are capable of killing off things that could cause harm to your body.
- Oyster mushrooms: Recent studies have indicated that oyster mushrooms may contain ingredients that can help combat HIV. They are also an excellent source of antioxidants.
- Reishi mushrooms: Reishi are large brown and white mushrooms. These mushrooms have been noted to have antibacterial, antifungal and anti-cancer properties. They also contain antioxidants and high doses of ganodermic acid, an ingredient that can lower your blood pressure and reduce bad cholesterol levels.
- Chanterelle mushrooms: These mushrooms also have antifungal and antibacterial properties. They also contain high doses of potassium, vitamin C and vitamin D.
- Porcini mushrooms: Porcini mushrooms have ingredients that have anti-inflammatory properties. They also contain high levels of cytotoxity, an ingredient that locates and attacks enemy cells within your body to promote better overall health.
- Shimeji mushrooms: Shimeji mushrooms contain beta-glucans, an ingredient that has been determined to be able to detect cancer cells, retard them and destroy them. Ingredients in these mushrooms also help prevent asthma symptoms, allergies and diabetes while boosting the immune system and the body's natural healing defenses.
Selection and Storage of Mushrooms
Got your mushroom diet planned already? That's good. But before practicing it, here are some tips on how to select and store mushrooms to help you out.
Due to their rising popularity, many grocery stores are stocking a wider variety of mushrooms. Select button mushrooms that have caps extending down to the stem with no brown gills visible. If the gills are showing this means your mushrooms will not last as long and will have a stronger flavor. Look for button mushrooms that have a soft white or tan color.
Mushrooms should be stored in a humid, cool area that has circulating air, such as a paper bag in the refrigerator to encourage freshness. Do not place mushrooms in the crisper drawer or in a plastic bag. Use them within a few days of purchase before they begin to turn brown.
Preparing Servings of Mushrooms
Mushrooms should not be washed as they can absorb water. Instead, wipe mushrooms with a slightly damp cloth or clean them with a mushroom brush. Only cut mushrooms when you are ready to cut them. Mushrooms cook very quickly, so it is important to sauté them gently in a small amount of oil or wine to prevent them from becoming rubbery. Mushrooms will add liquid to your dish when they begin to cool, so plan for this when measuring your other ingredients.
Mushroom Diet for Weight Loss
Due to their juicy and meaty mouth feel, mushrooms are frequently used as a low-fat or vegetarian meat substitute. This texture also makes them ideal for a number of cooking options such as baking, grilling, sautéing, or boiling. Thanks to their variety of vitamins and minerals, the USDA frequently recommends that people add mushrooms to their diet.
Those that are planning on eating mushrooms as part of a weight loss plan will need to make sure they stick to recipes that are low in fat as well. Using processed ingredients that are high in fat or unhealthy ingredients will undo much of your effort in attempting to lose weight. Work with a mushroom diet plan or use the food pyramid to find healthy recipes that will allow you to make the most of the benefits of mushrooms.
Common mushroom recipes such as stuffed mushrooms can be altered to contain ingredients that are more helpful for your dieting efforts. Using ingredients such as vegetable broth or other vegetables will create a delicious low-calorie option while ingredients like cheese, breadcrumbs or butter will increase your calorie count.