Call it an herb or vegetable, Mushrooms are being used for the medicinal purposes for thousands of years, but actually they are fungi. There are over 14,000 varieties of mushrooms, out of which only 3,000 are edible and 700 varieties contain medicinal properties, while one percent of mushrooms are known to contain poison.
Because of the vast variety of mushrooms to choose from, it is hard to identify or pick mushrooms on their own. Identifying mushrooms out of a bunch is really a challenging task, so as to avoid the poisonous species.
Since time immemorial mushrooms have been used the example of which can be gauged by the fact that Greeks used to believe that mushrooms provide strength to their warriors in the battle field. While Romans regarded this food as a gift from God, and it was being served on various festive occasions. Chinese on the other hand treasured them as a health food. Did you know mushrooms contain around 80 to 90 percent water and are very low in calories? They do not contain much of sodium and fat. So persons who are on dieting or on weight management program it could be an ideal food for them.
A mushroom is also one of the ingredients of soups, salads and sandwiches. In the US mushroom extracts are being used in nutraceutical products and is also a popular sports drink. Mushrooms also help in lowering the enhanced blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke as it is an excellent source of potassium. Only one serving of mushrooms helps in providing 20 to 40 percent of the daily value of copper.
Mushrooms also contain various antioxidants in it like selenium, niacin and riboflavin. Selenium in particular works with vitamin E and defends cells from the destructive effects of free radicals. Even Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry has also focused on the health benefits of mushrooms by revealing that mushrooms helps in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. Various random ongoing researches have focused on themaitake, reishi, shiitake and crimini variety of mushrooms which contains all the health benefits. But most common research has indicated that popular white button mushrooms contain the potential to fight cancer and reduce blood pressure and even cholesterol. Portobello mushrooms viz., an oversized Crimini variety of mushroom is regarded as a popular vegetarian meat alternative.
Mushrooms have also been considered a store of several nutrients and minerals. As they are the rich source of iron, potassium, riboflavin, copper, pantothenic acid and zinc, these nutrients found in mushrooms play a vital role in improving immunity and preventing various diseases.
Much has been said about the potential benefits of mushrooms but for certain people they could pose as a health hazards. If you start collecting mushrooms from forest and you did not know their variety you end up collecting toxic wild mushrooms. Moreover, they also contain an organic compound and precursor to uric acid called purines which could be harmful. Thus, persons have a history of kidney stones and those develop gout and other disorders should avoid mushrooms.
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