The benefits mushrooms provide are not limited to nutrition. There are numerous and surprising ways that mushrooms can benefit people and other living things. In this article, I will attempt to lift the curtain that once prevented us from fully realizing why mushrooms should be a part of our diet.

mushrooms on a board

What are mushrooms?

Mushrooms belong in a category all on their own when it comes to food. Often times they are lumped into the vegetable group, but they are actually a type of fungus.

Which unfortunately is enough to influence some people to avoid them. I must admit it does not seem extremely appealing to think about eating fungus; however, upon closer examination, it turns out that mushrooms are actually quite beneficial.

Origins of mushrooms

Mushrooms are a primitive plant that has existed for millions of years and consists of many various species (some of which actually glow in the dark).

Although today mushrooms often find their way into our diet, there are also several other ways mushrooms benefit us. Have you considered growing your own mushrooms?

Several major medical breakthroughs were the result of studying fungus, the most famous of which occurred when penicillin was discovered.

Another fun fact that was discovered from Otzi, the 5,000-year-old Iceman who was found in the Alps, is that people once used dried mushrooms as tinder. Mushrooms also participate in a symbiotic relationship with plants and trees that help them obtain more water and nutrients. So, in addition to all the various functions of mushrooms, they also have an ecological purpose as well.

Mushrooms in medicine

Mushrooms have also been used and are being studied for medicinal purposes; some types of mushrooms contain glutamic acid, which helps to stimulate the immune system.

While some may not consider this beneficial, we have all heard of “magic” mushrooms and know that some people enjoy eating certain types of mushrooms because of their hallucinogenic properties.

Versatility in the kitchen

The great thing about mushrooms is their versatility in the kitchen. They are used in dishes from different ethnicities.

It would not be uncommon to find mushrooms in pasta, pizza, an Asian stir fry, in a salad, on top of the steak, or even fried with a cheese filling.

The mushroom’s presence in so many culinary treats not only adds a wonderful flavour and texture to a dish but provides important nutrients as well.

Mushrooms for nutrients

Mushrooms are a common and healthy substitute for meat due to their high protein content yet low-fat content. In addition to these attributes, mushrooms are also a great source of Potassium, Niacin, Selenium, Riboflavin, Thiamin, and several other minerals and vitamins.

Essentially, without getting too deep into the chemical science of nutrition, these materials work together to expedite metabolism and even enhance the immune system.

Many studies have been performed to study how mushrooms may play a role in preventing certain types of cancer, lowering blood pressure, and preventing heart disease.

Toxins in mushrooms

It is also true that mushrooms contain toxins; in fact, some contain so much they can cause death if eaten. Therefore, I would say that anyone endorsing picking wild mushrooms to eat without any legitimate training in classifying mushrooms is completely irresponsible.

Several varieties of mushrooms share similar characteristics and are difficult to distinguish on appearance alone. Therefore, I would recommend avoiding wild mushrooms and sticking to the supermarket to avoid any health risks.

Using mushrooms in recipes

Mushrooms are a wonderful ingredient that complements the flavour of many types of food. Whether you enjoy sauteing your mushrooms in butter, garlic, and white wine, throwing them in a salad without cooking them, adding them to a gravy, soup, or sauce, or deep-frying them.

I hope that you realise that they not only will function as a benefit to your palate but also your health, among other things. Have you tried my chicken and mushroom curry recipe yet?

More mushroom information

If you have a lot of mushrooms and want to dry them then I have an article to help with all the tips for drying mushrooms you need.

So many recipes I share include mushrooms that I have an entire article dedicated to mushroom related recipes. Check out my mushroom recipes here.

Other ingredients tips you may like

If you like to cook with different ingredients and find different ways of using them then here are a few other articles I think you might like.

All you need to know about celeriac and how to use it

Oats an original superfood with lots of uses

Is couscous healthy, how you can use couscous well

How to grow your own vegetables from scraps

Jackfruit – what is it and how to use it

Cranberry juice – what are the benefits of it and how can you enjoy it

Seaweed – an unusual ingredient you should consider

Tips and tricks with garlic to use it best and How to use garlic granules

Weeds and the benefits they can have

Vegetable side dishes to make in advance

A simple sweet and sticky marinade recipe and making stir fry with Geetas sauces

Homemade salad dressing recipes

Spice blends to give your food a personality and 5 spice blends

UK cooking skills – what can the average person do?

9 ways to make vegetables fun for kids and fussy eaters and how to hide onion in meals

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