Mushrooms are clearly beneficial as both foods and drugs. The question is, how can we benefit from their unique disease-fighting and health-promoting properties?
One option is mushroom supplements. While mushroom tonics, powders and extracts have been popular in Asian countries for a while now, Canada is catching up: there are already a handful of licensed natural health products containing reiishi and shiitake extracts for immune system support.
An even better (and more delicious) option is to simply eat more mushrooms. Mushrooms contain a lot of things that are good for us. “A 100-gram serving of fresh white mushrooms—about 4 or 5 medium-sized mushrooms—has only 25 calories, no cholesterol and is virtually fat-free,” says Brittany Stager, Marketing Manager at Mushrooms Canada. To add to their health-conscious nutrient profile, mushrooms that have been exposed to UV light (most commercial type have) are a good source of vitamin D, an essential nutrient that is typically obtained only from animal-based products like meat, poultry and seafood (20). “Just one serving of shiitakes can provide up to 48% of your daily requirement for vitamin D,” Stager explains. Better yet, mushrooms contain dietary fibre, are low in sodium and are a good source of riboflavin, copper, selenium, niacin and panthothenic acid.
To find fresh, tasty mushrooms, look no further than your neighbourhood grocery store or farmer’s market for locally grown finds. According to Stager, many of the most popular types are produced right here in Canada. “There are seven varieties of fresh mushrooms grown in Canada,” she says. “White, crimini, portobella, shiitake, oyster, king oyster and enoki are all grown and harvested from coast to coast every day of the year.” Even thick slices of the melon-sized giant puffball have been known to appear at Ontario farmer’s markets from time to time.
To up your mushroom intake, Stager recommends adding half a cup of white button mushrooms to your omelette instead of cheddar, or tossing diced grilled portabella with pasta in lieu of sausage. These swaps will cut your sodium intake by a significant amount and provide you with extra potassium. Not bad for a fungus.
Any way you slice it, the world as we know it simply wouldn’t exist without fungi. Through reading this and the other wonderful articles in this volume, I hope you have gained an appreciation for—or at the very least, an understanding of—these fascinating organisms and their contribution to food, health and medicine. And maybe, just maybe, you will come to love mushrooms as much as I do.
Thanks so much Jennifer for joining us as a guest blogger. For those of you who missed Jennifer's first post on Medicinal Mushrooms, you can find it here.
Don't forget to follow Jennifer over on her blog The best thing I ever ate...and then some, and on Twitter.