Mushrooms are non-green vegetables that belongs to the family of fungus. They are extremely delicious and are loaded with nutrients too. It is a wholesome ingredient that appeals to your taste buds and nourishes your body too. Among the 45,000 varieties of mushrooms, only 2,000 are edible. Button mushrooms are mostly grown in India. However, the climate in Kerala is best to grow oyster mushrooms and milky mushrooms. Pirates opuntia and pirates cystidiosus are the two varieties that are extremely yielding and can be harvested relatively sooner.
Mushrooms begin to appear when the monsoon season begins to withdraw. They are grown when the materials in the soil that contain carbon decay. Mushrooms grow rapidly when low intensity electricity is conducted through soil. The thunderstorm that accompanies the heavy rains actually helps the mushrooms develop. The needle mushroom grows in the soil that is disturbed when the fallen trees begin to decay. These white coloured mushrooms are usually grown in rows. However, the needle mushrooms remain alive for just twelve hours. Interestingly, the needle mushrooms are the most delicious variety. All parts of the needle mushroom except the muddy root is edible.
How to identify edible mushroom?
All mushrooms are not edible. Mushrooms should be soaked in water mixed with turmeric powder for at least 15 minutes before cooking. If the colour changes into blue, the mushroom is poisonous. Meanwhile, the edible ones do not change colour. Poisonous mushrooms are coloured and do not attract bees or flies. The part beneath the umbrella shape is usually black in colour. Edible mushrooms could be stored up to days. The poisonous mushrooms contain pollen powder and are mostly seen in red or yellow colours.
Mushrooms are store houses of antioxidants, amino acids and protein. They are excellent for the growth and development of cells.
The antioxidants, selenium, alpha gluten and beta gluten are excellent to boost immunity. It protects the body from bacterial infection. Viral infections could be kept away if 25 – 50 grams of mushrooms are included in the daily diet.
Excellent for heart’s health
The fibres, potassium and vitamin C in mushrooms helps in maintaining the health of the heart. Mushrooms contain lovastatin that lowers the cholesterol level. Including mushrooms in your regular diet would keep away fat deposits in the ventricles and the arteries. Moreover, it helps in regulating the blood pressure too.
The polysaccharide retains the moisture in the skin, making it look glowing and healthy. The amazing ergathioneine and glutathion in mushroom could help prevent the dryness and pigmentation.
Controls blood sugar level
Mushrooms should be included in the regular diet in case you are suffering from lifestyle diseases like diabetes. As it contains lesser energy, mushrooms are safer to be consumed by diabetic patients. Meanwhile, the fibres in it regulates the blood sugar level.
Produces red blood cells
Mushrooms contain B vitamins like riboflavin, folic acid, thiamine, niacin and pantothenic acid that gives energy and produces red blood cells. B vitamins are required to keep the brain healthy and active.
Controls body weight
Mushrooms can regulate the metabolism of the body. Besides, the water content and the fibres in the mushrooms is excellent to regulate the body weight.
The vitamin D and calcium strengthens the bones.
Reduces cancer risk
The vitamin C and the antioxidants effectively reduces the risk of lung cancer, breast cancer and prostrate cancer.
Here is a chart that shows the nutritional value of mushroom.
22 kilo calories of energy
3 grams protein
3.1 gram carbohydrates
2.9 mg calcium
0.5 mg iron
8.6 mg magnesium
82.6 mg phosphorous
305 mg potassium
4.8 mg sodium
809 mg selenium
2 mg vitamin C
(The writer is the chief clinical nutritionist at SUT Hospital, Pattom, Thiruvananthapuram.)