Mushrooms are not the most glamorous organism on display in the local produce section or farmer’s market. They are not nearly as sexy as a bunch of vibrant, crisp kale or as succulent as a buxom, ripe tomato. Most adults probably grew up eating the canned and jarred mushrooms which likely further decreases their appeal. But, did you know that this unassuming, unattractive, homely dark horse of a fungus has unprecedented nutritional qualities? YES! I am so excited!!!
Mushrooms are not fruits or vegetables, therefore their nutritional profile is very different. So, in addition to eating several servings of vegetables per day, nutrition gurus are now proclaiming the benefits of also consuming a daily serving of mushrooms. Routinely eating your mushrooms can strengthen and improve your body’s performance in the immune system, anti inflammatory response, antioxidant enzymes, cardiovascular system as well as provide many anti-cancer benefits.
Regular consumption of crimini mushrooms can fortify the immune system by supporting balanced activities among our white blood cells (disease fighting cells). Intake of whole, fresh mushrooms have also been shown to block production of pro-inflammatory molecules; molecules that contribute to chronic inflammatory conditions. Crimini mushrooms provide an excellent amount of selenium, and a very good amount of zinc and manganese. All three minerals are critical antioxidant nutrients and are also required for the functioning of antioxidant enzymes. In addition to providing us with these key antioxidant nutrients, mushrooms also positively impact our oxidative metabolism. research studies show that crimini mushrooms can help protect us from cardiovascular disease by protecting our blood vessels from oxidative damage as well as chronic inflammation. Research studies on laboratory animals with high blood levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides (TGs) have also shown that daily intake of crimini mushrooms over a period of 1-2 months can reduce levels of all three blood fats (total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and TGs. Of special interest in this health benefits area have been studies on breast cancer and prostate cancer. In the case of breast cancer—especially hormone-related breast cancer—it may be the presence of a special fatty acid called CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) in mushrooms that is especially important.
Ideas for serving:
1. chopped on top of salads
2. chopped up in an omelet or frittata
3. use 2 portabella caps in place of a bun for a burger or sandwich
4. use a portabella cap as a “pizza” crust and bake with your favorite, healthy pizza toppings
5. marinate with olive oil, cilantro, lime and garlic sea salt and either bake in the oven or grill
6. add to brown rice or quinoa pilaf
7. use baked portabella strips in place of steak in a fajita