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It is a well-known fact that fruits and vegetables which are bright in colour have more nutrients. However, in this aspect, mushrooms break all the rules. These white and dull-coloured fungi, which is a very popular food item, are packed with nutrients.
Mushrooms are edible fungi which are spongy and famous for their meat-like structure. They are easily available and used in most dishes like soups, salads or stir-fries.
Their meaty structure helps to add body to the meals. There are various types of mushrooms - like oyster mushrooms, button mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms. Mushrooms are low in calories and a good source of vitamin B. Mushrooms are also excellent for your health as they have numerous medicinal properties.
Nutritional Value Of Mushrooms
|Nutrients||Amount Per 100 g|
|Vitamin C||2.1 mg|
100 g of mushrooms provide 22 calories. Apart from the above-mentioned nutrients, mushrooms also have vitamin D, zinc and B vitamins like vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B9 (folic acid), vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) and vitamin B3 (niacin).
Health Benefits Of Mushrooms
1. Improves heart health
Mushrooms keep the cholesterol in check by boosting your cardiovascular health. They contain soluble dietary fibre known as beta-glucan that has been associated with lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol and increasing HDL (good) cholesterol and helps to regulate the blood sugar as well.
High levels of bad cholesterol lead to atherosclerosis which means an increase in plaque build-up in the arteries that can cause heart attack and stroke. In addition, the presence of potassium and vitamin C in mushrooms contribute to cardiovascular health, thereby lowering the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases.
2. Improves bone health
Mushrooms contain good amounts of calcium, vitamin D, copper and phosphorus which are essential for maintaining strong bones. Each mineral plays a vital role in skeletal health, enhances bone density by keeping your bones from becoming brittle.
When mushrooms are grown outdoors, the concentration of vitamin D increases. Consumption of mushrooms will provide your body with decent amounts of vitamin A, calcium, copper  and phosphorus.
Consuming mushroom regularly can reduce the chances of osteoporosis, joint pain and other disorders related to bone degeneration.
3. Boosts immune system
Ergothioneine, a powerful antioxidant present in mushrooms is effective in eradicating free radicals, thus strengthening the immune system. Mushroom contains selenium that fights infection by stimulating the production of killer T cells and beta-glucan found in the cell walls of the mushrooms fights cancer cells and prevents the formation of tumours. Mushrooms contain strong antibacterial and antifungal compounds that protect the human cells from harmful bacteria and fungi.
4. Prevents diabetes
According to the researchers of the Pennsylvania State University, consuming mushrooms can affect glucose and regulate blood sugar levels. Mushrooms are a great source of beta-glucan, a soluble dietary fibre which helps to maintain the blood sugar levels, thereby reducing the risk of type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes, making it a superfood for the diabetics  .
5. Helps in weight loss
Another benefit of mushrooms is that they help in losing weight because they're low in calories and a nutrient-dense food. The dietary fibre found in the cell walls of the mushrooms help in improving digestion and speeds up the metabolism. This increases satiety and keeps you fuller for longer. Mushrooms are an ideal food for losing muscle mass because it is low in fat or carbohydrates that would make it a great food for weight loss.
6. Prevents anaemia
White mushrooms contain copper which can regulate and stimulate the absorption of iron from the foods you eat. Mushrooms are also rich in iron, so both the minerals work together in the production of red blood cells and prevent anaemia. A deficiency in iron causes anaemia which is characterized by extreme fatigue, headache, etc.
7. Lowers blood pressure
Mushrooms are a rich source of potassium  that acts as a vasodilator. It relaxes the tension in the blood vessels and therefore reduces blood pressure. The excess intake of sodium reduces the kidneys' ability to remove the water. So, by consuming mushrooms, your potassium levels increase and help to restore the delicate balance when it comes to heart, muscle and nerve and kidney functioning.
8. Prevents cancer
Mushrooms contain beneficial antioxidants which are chemicals that help to get rid of free radicals. They contain a type of beneficial antioxidant called ergosterol which is known to play a role in fighting chronic diseases such as cancer and heart diseases.
The mineral selenium found in mushrooms  play a role in the functioning of the liver enzymes and helps to detoxify cancer-causing compounds in the body.
9. Gives energy and improves brain function
Add more mushrooms to your diet to get more B-complex vitamins, particularly B5 and B2. These two nutrients help to activate enzymes that your cells need to convert into energy. Vitamin B2 supports liver function and B5 aids in the production of feel-good hormones. B vitamins support neurotransmitter function and eliminate brain fog, thereby improving your brain function.
10. Promotes good skin
Mushrooms can help to treat acne, eczema and other skin problems. The presence of vitamin D, antioxidants and selenium in mushrooms work together to protect your skin from wrinkles and prevents ageing caused by free radical damage. Therefore, mushrooms have skin-enhancing properties that can prevent age spots, uneven skin tone and discolouration.
11. Lowers inflammation
Mushrooms are rich in anti-inflammatory compounds like phenolic and indolic compounds, fatty acids, polysaccharides, carotenoids, mycosteroids, vitamins and biometals which lower inflammation, according to a study .
Edible mushrooms produce a vast diversity of bioactive compounds such as polysaccharides, proteoglycans, terpenoids, phenolic compounds, steroids, and lectins which have a wide range of therapeutic effects and can act as an anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic, antiviral, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory agents, according to study  . Consuming mushrooms in raw form or lightly cooked form will let you reap its full benefits.
How To Buy Mushrooms
The most important thing to know while buying mushrooms is whether they are fresh, firm, dry and unbruised. Avoid the ones which are withered and slimy. Buy and consume organically grown mushrooms as they are very porous and absorb chemicals from the soil that they grow in.
How To Cook Mushrooms
One of the best ways to cook mushrooms is to either have them grilled or cooked in a microwave. If mushrooms are exposed to short cooking time they retain most of their nutrients. So, either microwave or grill them to increase their antioxidant activity.
How To Add Mushrooms To Your Diet
• Sauté white mushrooms with onions for a quick dish whenever you are hungry.
• Add grilled mushrooms in your salads and sliced mushrooms to omelettes and egg scramble.
• Grill mushrooms and use them in sandwiches and wraps.
How To Store Mushrooms
Remember that mushrooms deteriorate quickly, the quicker you use them, the better. If you buy pre-packed mushrooms, keep it with the original packaging in the fridge. And if you buy loose mushrooms store it in a paper bag with holes.
Health Risks Of Mushrooms
Uncultivated wild mushrooms possess a risk for those people who can't distinguish which one is safe to eat and which isn't. Consumption of wild mushrooms can be toxic  because they contain heavy metals and harmful chemicals that can sometimes lead to death and severe illnesses as they grow in unfavourable conditions. Choose mushrooms that are grown in favourable conditions.
It is also advised to not consume raw mushrooms as they are difficult to digest when eaten raw due to their tough cell walls. Moreover, raw mushrooms also contain a toxin called agaritine, which is destroyed while cooking.
-  Tian, Y., Nichols, R. G., Roy, P., Gui, W., Smith, P. B., Zhang, J., … Cantorna, M. T. (2018). Prebiotic effects of white button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) feeding on succinate and intestinal gluconeogenesis in C57BL/6 mice. Journal of Functional Foods, 45, 223–232
-  Muszyńska, B., Grzywacz-Kisielewska, A., Kała, K., & Gdula-Argasińska, J. (2018). Anti-inflammatory properties of edible mushrooms: A review. Food Chemistry, 243, 373–381.
-  Elsayed, E. A., El Enshasy, H., Wadaan, M. A. M., & Aziz, R. (2014). Mushrooms: A Potential Natural Source of Anti-Inflammatory Compounds for Medical Applications. Mediators of Inflammation, 2014, 1–15.
-  Sai Latha, S., Naveen, S., Pradeep, C. K., Sivaraj, C., Dinesh, M. G., & Anilakumar, K. R. (2018). Toxicity Assessment of Wild Mushrooms from the Western Ghats, India: An in Vitro and Sub-Acute in Vivo Study. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 9.
-  Jo Feeney, M., Miller, A. M., & Roupas, P. (2014). Mushrooms—Biologically Distinct and Nutritionally Unique. Nutrition Today, 49(6), 301–307.