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.
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 (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.
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.
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.
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.
Oyster mushrooms have been used for thousands of years as a culinary and medicinal ingredient, and it is also a ideal daily food for nutrition supply . The white mushrooms resemble oysters, and can be found growing in the wild on trees or fallen logs. They have a rich history in traditional Chinese medicine from as early as 3,000 years ago, particularly as a tonic for the immune system, according to acupuncturist Christopher Hobbs, author of “Medicinal Mushrooms.”
Oyster mushrooms contain ergothioneine, a unique antioxidant exclusively produced by fungi, according to a 2010 study led by Penn State food scientist Joy Dubost. The study found that oyster mushrooms have significant antioxidant properties that protect cells in the body. A 3 oz. serving of oyster mushrooms contains 13 milligrams of ergothioneine, and cooking the mushrooms does not reduce this level.
Oyster mushrooms have significant antibacterial activity, according to a 1997 study published in the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.” The study found that the active compound benzaldehyde reduces bacterial levels. It may form on the mushroom as a reaction to stress.
Exotic Mushrooms are available everywhere this day, including in your local vegetable market. You don’t have to be a top chef to prize the lush, earthy flavour of exotic mushrooms. But whether you pick the King Oyster, Shimeji or the familiar Oyster mushroom, you’ll get some newly discovered health benefits.
Safeguard Against Cancer
Exotic mushrooms are rich in disease-fighting phytochemicals, and eating them regularly has been linked to a lower risk of breast cancer in studies of Chinese and Korean women. Mushrooms also prevent prostate cancer cells from multiplying in mice—and might do the same in men.
Supply Hard-to-Get Nutrients
One medium Portobello mushroom supplies 21 percent of the recommended daily intake of selenium and one-third your need of copper; it also has as much potassium as a medium-size banana. Other varieties are just as rich in minerals, a recent analysis found. What’s more, exotic mushrooms retain their nutrients when stir-fried, or grilled.
Help You Cut Calories
When ground beef was swapped out for king oyster or oyster mushrooms in lasagna, sloppy joes and chili, adults consumed 400 fewer calories per day, according to a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study. Researchers estimate that if you substitute mushrooms for ground meat in one meal every week, you can lose five pounds in a year. Just don’t sabotage this fringe benefit by preparing mushrooms with loads of butter. Instead, toss them into a nonstick pan that’s been lightly sprayed with oil, then sauté on low heat until they soften.
Apart from their culinary uses, mushrooms have long been known for their nutritional value and health imparting benefits that include:
1. Mushrooms to be a good source of vitamin B along with riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid.
2. Excellent source of important minerals like selenium, copper, potassium and beta-glucans.
3. As a nutritional powerhouse mushrooms fight against cancer and strengthens body’s immunity.
4. Antioxidants that protect cells from getting damaged.
5. Gluten free, appetite filling and infused with vitamin D, mushrooms have lot to offer.
We can’t think of exotic cooking without exotic mushrooms, can we? Used extensively in continental cuisine, exotic mushrooms seem to occupy a special place in our food preferences. Cooked in a jiffy with an array of spices, magic mushrooms tend to absorb the flavours of the seasoning and taste, great as snacks, appetizers and main dishes. Interestingly, mushrooms have been used for ages in cooking and in medicines. Known as a vegetable as well as an herb, edible mushrooms are actually a type of fungus.
It is believed that out of the thousands of mushrooms that grow across the world, about 3,000 are supposed to be edible and a few hundreds have medicinal properties.
Health Benefits Of Mushrooms
Order up some ‘shroom service!
Vitamin D may help you ward off dementia, a study in the journal Neurology suggests. Older adults who were moderately D-deficient had a 53% higher risk of developing dementia later in life. The nutrient might help combat amyloid plaques, the brain abnormalities linked to cognitive decline.
Start a good habit now and aim to eat 600 IU of vitamin D a day – mushroom is a great sources, because 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.