Health-Enhancing Foods: Mushrooms
Nature at her Best
For many people, mushrooms are a love or hate relationship; hardly anyone I’ve met is completely indifferent to them. Some abhor the texture, some don’t like the colour, some find them slimy, and some look forward all year long to those three months when they grow abundantly in the wild.
In the war-torn Germany of the 1940s, country dwellers survived almost solely on mushrooms; they grew in the wild and were freely available while most other food was nowhere to be found. It was the generation who would later produce the baby boom of the 1950s and 60s. That offers an entirely different perspective of the innocuous fungi, doesn’t it…
Texture and sliminess can easily be dealt with; a cream of mushroom soup will not leave any mushroom texture whatsoever, and they are not slimy when added to sufficiently hot oil. A veggie burger made from chopped-up and fried mushrooms with spices and herbs added offers a very different texture to the traditional dish of mushrooms sautéed in oil or butter.
What has always fascinated me far more than taste or texture is their health-enhancing properties. Edible mushrooms, from ordinary white button ones sold in any supermarket to the most exotic, sought-after types that are only available from specialist establishments, boost human health with their tremendous healing properties. From cancer to diabetes, cholesterol to obesity, mushrooms have capabilities to deal with all. Their habit of absorbing Vitamin D just like humans also make an excellent source of the vital vitamin.
Lean proteins, low carbohydrates, high fibre, enzymes all help regulate cholesterol. High levels of nutritive iron and copper ensure easy iron absorption by the human body, keeping anaemia at bay. Beta-glucans and linoleic acid, both present in mushrooms, inhibit the growth of cancerous cells as well as tumours.
Low carbs and high protein, combined with a wealth of vitamins, enzymes, minerals and trace elements also make mushrooms the dream food of diabetics, encouraging the body to form insulin.
A Foodie’s Dream
In addition to all their health benefits, mushrooms are the perfect candidates for the gourmet. Their culinary prowess is second to none. Add thin slices of crimini or porcini to green salad, sauté any edible mushrooms with onion and garlic for a side dish, add cream to pour over pasta or potatoes, cover them with breadcrumbs to make schnitzel or mash them to turn into burgers – the choices are almost endless.
A collection of my favourite recipes can be found on my Patreon page.