Benefits of Mushroom

All things you should know about the exotic mushroom for your good health
In the past, exotic mushroom were once only reserved for royalty, but today, with the new hi-tech mushroom farm, exotic mushroom can be enjoy by all family all year round. While exotic mushroom are often considered a vegetable and prepared like one, the exotic mushroom is actually a fungus, a special type of living organism with no roots, leaves, flowers, or seeds.

Exotic mushroom were a time-honored food in many cultures, mushrooms have traditionally been used as an antitumor, antifungal, and antiarthritic medicinal food. Today, mushrooms have emerged as quite the powerhouse in terms of both flavour and nutritional value. A notable source of B and D vitamins, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and selenium, mushrooms are also a significant source of fiber, with 3 g in a typical 100g serving.

Mushrooms are the only “plants” that provide a natural source of vitamin D. Similar to the way humans absorb sunlight and convert it to vitamin D, mushrooms contain a plant sterol—ergosterol—that converts to vitamin D2 when exposed to ultraviolet light. Due to natural variability, vitamin D levels can range from 1% to 97% of the Daily Value (400 IU) per raw 84-g serving.

Exotic Mushroom

Ounce per ounce, mushroom species pack a phytochemical punch, containing compounds that may reduce cancer risk and improve immune function. Although many mushroom varieties exist, this article focuses on the exotic mushrooms with the most potential medicinal benefits and flavour to boot.

King Oyster

King oyster (Pleurotus eryngii), also known as king Trumpet, is an edible mushroom native to regions of Europe, the Middle East, and  Africa but also commercially grown in Japan and the United States. The largest species of the oyster mushroom, it has a thick white stem and a small tan cap and is known for its robust, somewhat earthy flavor and more meaty texture.

King oyster contains high amounts of ergothioneine, a naturally occurring antioxidant amino acid. L-ergothioneine has a very high Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity value and is concentrated in organs exposed to high oxidative stress (eg, kidneys, liver, eyes).

1 Antioxidants such as L-ergothioneine may help reduce the risk of chronic disease by providing cellular protection against free radical damage. Investigations with supplemental L-ergothioneine in rats demonstrated protection against induced lipid peroxidation of the liver and kidneys and also conserved the consumption of endogenous glutathione and alpha-tocopherol.2

While all mushrooms contain some ergothioneine, specialty mushrooms such as king oyster  contain higher amounts than  white button varieties; a standard 3-oz serving can contain up to 13 mg. As with most phytochemicals, ergothioneine levels do not decrease during cooking.

King oyster also contains statins such as lovastatin, which has been shown to significantly reduce cholesterol levels in rats.3 In a small clinical study, 30 subjects with diabetes ingested oyster mushrooms over a 21-day rotation period.4 Subjects demonstrated significant reductions in total cholesterol, triglyceride, and glucose levels. Beta-glucans found in many mushrooms may also have a lipid-lowering effect.

In the produce aisle, mushrooms are the leading source of the essential antioxidant selenium. The king oyster mushroom has the ability to extract and concentrate high levels of selenium from its environment.5 The selenium in mushroom tissue is organically bound and much easier to absorb than inorganic selenium in most dietary supplements.

Shiitake

The shiitake mushroom, native to Japan and other Asian nations, is cultivated worldwide for its purported health benefits. The fresh and dried forms are commonly used in East Asian cooking. Shiitake contain lentinan (1,3 Beta-D-glucan), thought to have anticancer effects in colon cancer cells, which may be due to its ability to suppress cytochrome P450 1A enzymes that are known to metabolize procarcinogens to active forms.

Studies conducted with shiitake extracts in vitro and in mice revealed the mushroom’s antiproliferative, immunostimulatory, hepatoprotective, antimutagenic, and anticaries properties, but a clinical trial failed to show effectiveness in the treatment of prostate cancer.11

White and Brown Shimeji

Relative newcomers to the market are the Japanese white shimeji (Bunapi) and brown shimeji (Bunashimeji) mushrooms, originating in Japan and now grown and cultivated in globally. These delicate fungi have a nutty, buttery flavour in white and seafood flavour in brown, with  a firm, crunchy texture. The mushrooms grow in clusters. White and brown shimeji mushrooms also contain beta-glucan polysaccharides, known for their immune-modulating and antitumor properties.12

Savor the Flavour

All exotic mushrooms are a rich source of umami, the fifth basic taste after sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. Derived from the Japanese word umai, meaning “delicious,” umami is usually described as a savory, brothy, rich, or meaty taste sensation. Umami contributes a satisfying flavour and full-bodied taste with distinctive aroma and mouthfeel. The more umami present in food, the more flavourful it will be. All mushrooms contain umami; the darker the mushroom, the more umami it contains. Cooking at high heat, such as sautéing or grilling, or for longer periods (eg, cooking soup or broth) will intensify and develop the mushroom flavour.

Preparation Tips

Grilling or broiling is a preferred method for preparing the larger mushrooms such as the king trumpet, as high heat develops their characteristic flavour. Lightly brush caps and stems with oil to keep them moist and then season them with salt and pepper. Grill or broil 4 to 6 inches from the heat source for 4 to 6 minutes on each side, brushing again once or twice. Mushrooms may also be roasted or sautéed with oil, butter, or vegetable broth to help develop flavours. Because mushrooms are so high in moisture, they also microwave well without the addition of butter or margarine. For a lower-fat option, sauté with a few tablespoons of wine or broth (instead of oil or butter) until the released juices have evaporated, about 5 minutes.

Final Thoughts

Neither vegetables nor fruits, exotic mushrooms may contribute significantly to a plant-based diet high in nutrients, including phytochemicals. And while exotic mushrooms may be new to some, all contribute flavour, texture, and possible health benefits.