TALK TO ME TUESDAYS- THE TRUTH ABOUT MUSHROOMS

Hey folks,

Welcome to this edition of Talk To Me Tuesdays! I am very pleased to say I have been getting more questions coming in! I received a question from my cousin Donna last night about mushrooms. She is seeking further clarification about the safety of eating mushrooms based on information she has heard about them since they are in fact a fungus. Her question is: "What's the truth about mushrooms?"

SOME FACTS ABOUT MUSHROOMS:

Mushrooms are low in calories and sodium. They are also cholesterol and fat free. They contain a load of B vitamins including, riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid. These vitamins assist in providing energy by breaking down proteins, fats and carbohydrates.

Pantothenic acid: aids in the production of hormones and plays an important role in the nervous system.

Riboflavin: assists in maintaining healthy red blood cells.

Niacin: makes sure the nervous and digestive systems work properly. Niacin also promotes healthy skin.

Mushrooms also contain some important minerals:

Selenium: a mineral that works as an antioxidant to protect body cells from damage that could lead to some types of cancer, heart disease and aging.

Selenium has also been discovered to be important for the fertility in men and their immune system. Mushrooms are among the richest sources of selenium in the produce aisle. In 1996, selenium also came to the forefront of prostate cancer research when it was found that it decreased prostate cancer by 60%. Research done by the Baltimore Longitudinal Study on Aging concluded that men who had the lowest blood selenium levels were 4-5 times more likely to have prostate cancer than those wih high levels. Blood selenium levels decrease with age, so it is recommended that older men add more selenium to their diets.

Ergothioneine: a naturally occurring antioxidant which helps protect the body’s cells. Mushrooms contain 2.8-4.9 mg of ergothioneine per serving of white, portabella or crimini mushrooms.

Copper: helps produce red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body. It also assists in keeping nerves and bones healthy.

Potassium: helps in maintaining normal mineral and fluid balance, this assists in controlling blood pressure. It also makes sure that nerves and muscles, including the heart, function properly.

Beta-glucans: found in many species of mushrooms contribute to the resistance against allergies and have demonstrated immunity-stimulating effects. The beta-glucans found in oyster, shiitake and split gill mushrooms are considered to be the most effective.

Mushrooms grow wild in many places, but the ones on the market are grown commercially on farms. It is very important to research extensively if you intend to harvest your own wild mushrooms. Many are highly toxic and life-threatening. Do not depend on casual columns to determine toxicity of wild mushrooms. It is best to purchase mushrooms from your grocery store rather than hunting them on your own. Eating the wrong types of mushrooms can lead to cramps, sweating, convulsions and end in liver damage with a death rate of 60% or higher.

I happen to LOVE mushrooms but I wasn't even aware of all of the vitamins and minerals I receive from eating them! I put them in so many dishes that I make. My cousin Donna mentioned that she isn't a fan of mushrooms, but perhaps she could grow to like them as she has with other foods that she didn't initially like. I think this is a strong possibility. My suggestion is to take baby steps. Instead of making a huge portabello burger, try chopping some up and adding them to your favorite pasta or sautee them with onions and top them on a salad (I do this often and I LOVE it)! There are many ways you can use them to learn to love them and after reading this information, who wouldn't want to!! Keep me posted Donna!


Sources: mushroomcouncil.com, health.learninginfo.org, homecooking.about.com

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