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The name black fungus may not sound like something interesting to eat, but actually it is rich in nutrients and possesses numerous health benefits.
What is Black Fungus?
Black fungus (Auricularia polytricha) is an edible wild mushroom found predominantly in China. Black fungus is also known as wood ear or cloud ear mushrooms, because they resemble human ear.
Black fungus is often dark brown or black in colour and they have a chewy texture. It grows on the trunk of the trees and fallen logs and they thrive well in the tropical climates like India, Hawaii, Nigeria and Pacific Islands. Black fungus has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds for years  .
Nutritional Value Of Black Fungus
100 g of black fungus contains 14.8 g water, 284 kcal energy and it also contains:
- 9.25 g protein
- 0.73 g fat
- 73.01 g carbohydrate
- 70.1 g fibre
- 159 mg calcium
- 5.88 mg iron
- 83 mg magnesium
- 184 mg phosphorus
- 754 mg potassium
- 35 mg sodium
- 1.32 mg zinc
- 0.183 mg copper
- 1.951 mg manganese
- 43.4 mcg selenium
Health Benefits Of Black Fungus
1. Promotes gut health
Black fungi are a good source of prebiotics, a type of fibre that feeds the good bacteria in the gut. This helps the gut bacteria to produce nutrients to enhance digestive health and also help maintain bowel regularity  .
2. Prevents dementia and Alzheimer's disease
According to a study published in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, eating both raw and cooked black fungus is beneficial in preventing the development of Alzheimer's disease and dementia  .
3. Lowers bad cholesterol
Black fungus contains high amounts of powerful antioxidants that are said to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol significantly, according to a study published in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms. This in turn, decreases the risk of heart disease  .
4. Protects the liver
Black fungus is known to protect the liver from certain harmful substances. According to a study, mixing black fungus powder with water helped reverse and protect the liver from damage caused by an overdose of acetaminophen, the chemical used to treat fever and pain  .
5. Prevents chronic conditions
Research study shows that black fungus is packed with antioxidant compounds that help fight free radicals and protect cells against oxidative damage. This aids in the prevention of chronic conditions like cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease  .
6. Inhibits bacteria growth
Black fungus mushrooms contain antimicrobial properties that can help ward off certain strains of bacteria according to a 2015 study  . The study found that these mushrooms have the ability to block the growth of E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus bacterias that are responsible for causing infections.
Side Effects Of Black Fungus Mushrooms
In general, the black fungus mushrooms are safe to consume, however, for some it may cause food allergy and lead to nausea, hives, swelling and itching.
How To Cook Black Fungus
Black fungus should always be cooked properly to kill the bacteria and studies have shown that boiling it increases the antioxidant activity.
Also, it is advised that pregnant women shouldn't consume black fungus.
Note: Consult a doctor before consuming black fungus.
Black Fungus Recipe
Wood ear mushroom salad 
- ¼ cup dried wood ear mushrooms
- ¼ medium-sized onion
- a small bunch of coriander
- For seasoning:
- 2 garlic cloves chopped
- 1 fresh Thai chilli pepper cut into small pieces
- 1 tbsp Chinese black vinegar
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- ½ tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp vegetable cooking oil
- 3 spring onions chopped
- ½ tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- Pinch of salt
- Soak the dried mushrooms in warm water for about 30 minutes until they become soft.
- Wash it under running water carefully.
- Then boil the soaked mushrooms for 1 to 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the onion slices in it.
- Transfer the mixture into a bowl of cold water.
- Drain the water and place it on a plate.
- Heat oil in a pan and stir fry all the ingredients listed under the seasoning list for few minutes until it becomes aromatic.
- Add this seasoning to the mushrooms. Mix well and serve.
-  Yao, H., Liu, Y., Ma, Z. F., Zhang, H., Fu, T., Li, Z., ... & Wu, H. (2019). Analysis of Nutritional Quality of Black Fungus Cultivated with Corn Stalks.Journal of Food Quality,2019.
-  Aida, F. M. N. A., Shuhaimi, M., Yazid, M., & Maaruf, A. G. (2009). Mushroom as a potential source of prebiotics: a review.Trends in food science & technology,20(11-12), 567-575.
-  Bennett, L., Sheean, P., Zabaras, D., & Head, R. (2013). Heat-stable components of wood ear mushroom, Auricularia polytricha (higher Basidiomycetes), inhibit in vitro activity of beta secretase (BACE1).International journal of medicinal mushrooms,15(3).
-  Fan, Y. M., Xu, M. Y., Wang, L. Y., Zhang, Y., Zhang, L., Yang, H., ... & Cui, P. (1989). The effect of edible black tree fungus (Auricuaria auricula) on experimental atherosclerosis in rabbits.Chinese medical journal,102(2), 100-105.
-  K Chellappan, D., Ganasen, S., Batumalai, S., Candasamy, M., Krishnappa, P., Dua, K., ... & Gupta, G. (2016). The protective action of the aqueous extract of Auricularia polytricha in paracetamol induced hepatotoxicity in rats.Recent patents on drug delivery & formulation,10(1), 72-76.
-  Kho, Y. S., Vikineswary, S., Abdullah, N., Kuppusamy, U. R., & Oh, H. I. (2009). Antioxidant capacity of fresh and processed fruit bodies and mycelium of Auricularia auricula-judae (Fr.) Quél.Journal of medicinal food,12(1), 167-174.
-  Cai, M., Lin, Y., Luo, Y. L., Liang, H. H., & Sun, P. (2015). Extraction, antimicrobial, and antioxidant activities of crude polysaccharides from the wood ear medicinal mushroom Auricularia auricula-judae (higher basidiomycetes).International journal of medicinal mushrooms,17(6).
-  https://www.chinasichuanfood.com/wood-ear-mushroom-salad/