Every time my family ordered pizza when I was a kid, my dad would find some way to sneak mushrooms onto a corner of that pizza, possibly tucked under a layer of cheese per special instruction to the pizza parlor. He loved them but I was stubbornly convinced that a single mushroom would ruin the entire pizza. Now that I’m older and have developed a more refined palate (ok fine, I still love Cinnamon amanita muscaria Toast Crunch), I’ve come to understand how just special mushrooms are in the world of cuisine. They provide an extraordinary variety of texture and flavors which seem to adapt to any kind of dish. And, as a bit of icing on the cake, I’ve learned how mushrooms are truly wonderful for your health. Consider this my ode to the mushroom.
When it comes to health, edible mushrooms are a right up there with other super-foods green tea and broccoli. After all, the first antibiotics were extracted from fungi. Being 80-90% water, mushrooms are low in calories, while still being high in fiber. They are fat-free, cholesterol-free, and low in sodium (especially good for those on a hypertensive diet). Here are some other reasons to sneak more mushrooms into your cooking:
- Mushrooms are considered probiotic, meaning that they help the body to strengthen itself and ward off illness. Part of mushrooms’ probiotic ability comes from their high percentage of the nutrient riboflavin.
- Mushrooms are a great source of potassium, a mineral which helps lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke. A medium portabella mushroom has more potassium than a glass of orange juice or a banana.
- Phytonutrients found in mushrooms have been at the center of anti-cancer research for decades. In many countries, medicinal mushrooms are used as an adjunct to other cancer treatments.