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Mushroom Nutrition

Much of mushroom nutrition lies in their content of phytonutrients. One of the most researched subjects of late is the role of phytonutrients on human health. Phytonutrients serve as antioxidants which increase communication between cells, enhance the body’s immune system, change the metabolism of estrogen--which reduces breast cancer,  convert beta-carotene to vitamin A, cause cancer cells to die and detoxify carcinogens by activating certain enzymes.

In mushrooms, it is polysaccharide and beta-glucan that have been the focus of these studies and it has been found that not only do specialty mushrooms such as Shiitake, Maitake and Reishi have these ingredients and properties but the button varieties have them as well. Mushrooms are an excellent source of riboflavin, selenium, pantothenic acid (B5), niacin (B3), folate, copper, potassium, and phosphorus.

Selenium is an antioxidant which rids the body of cell damaging free radicals. It protects us from cancer, particularly colon cancer, decreases arthritis and asthma, and prevents heart disease. Copper also has a connection to reducing the risk of certain kinds of cancers as does manganese. Mushrooms contain 35% of the much-need copper and 10% of the manganese.

Riboflavin, vitamin B2, is important for human energy production. It takes the form of flavins and then attaches to enzymes to create flavoproteins. These are what allow oxygen-based energy production to occur and are found in the heart and other muscles. Riboflavin also recycles the glutathione molecule which stops the damage that can occur when oxygen-containing molecules produce energy. It only takes roughly five mushrooms to provide the body with 40.6% of the riboflavin it needs daily.

Among the other elements of mushroom nutrition, antithetic acid is known to help fight fatigue, niacin reduces cholesterol level, and B6 stops damage to blood vessel walls. Zinc facilitates proper immune system function and assists in wound healing, and may help reduce the inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis. An additional benefit of niacin is its benefit for people who have Alzheimer’s Disease or other age-related mental declines.

Mushroom nutrition is high even in small, more common mushrooms. Mushrooms, like button varieties, can be quite low cost given the benefits they provide. Mushrooms also make a healthy meat substitute for vegetarians. Plus, they taste great sautéed or as an addition to pasta sauce.


 

 


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