Nutritional values and properties of mushrooms

Uncategorized, Food and Wellbeing

Delicious and succulent, mushrooms are a food that many people choose to include in their most sought-after menus. Ideal for preparing sauces and dressings for risottos and pasta dishes, as an accompaniment to polenta or in soups and salads, they are an extremely versatile ingredient that can enhance the flavor of any dish.

However, few people know the nutritional value of mushrooms and the benefits they bring to our body.

First of all, it is necessary to specify that mushrooms are neither vegetables nor fruits. They have no seeds inside them, no roots, and do not grow from any flower. Although for convenience they are commonly associated with vegetables, mushrooms belong to a kingdom of their own: the kingdom of Fungi or Mycetes.

There are so many species of edible mushrooms, wild or cultivated, each with its own peculiarities. Regardless of the variety, they can still become a very important food for our diet because of their limited caloric intake and the valuable nutrients they contain.

Composition and food values of mushrooms

Chosen mainly for their special taste and delicate aroma, mushrooms can boast important dietary value. They are composed mainly of water (more than 90 percent), protein and fiber. To a small extent we find carbohydrates and fats. That is why mushrooms are nutritious, satisfying, and low in calories.

The nutritional benefits of mushrooms come mainly from the proteins and minerals they contain.

Proteins, in addition to being present in good quantities (8-12 g in a 300 g portion), are of excellent quality since they are endowed with all the essential amino acids, surpassing the comparison with most vegetables.

As for mineral salts, we can count copper, potassium, iron, manganese, phosphorus and calcium, to which is added a fair content of B vitamins and vitamin D, the latter peculiarity of sun-dried mushrooms.

Another important feature of mushrooms is dietary fiber, both soluble such as the excellent beta-glucans and insoluble such as cellulose.

In each case, the composition and nutritional values vary depending on the species of mushroom being considered. For example, let us see the characteristics of the most popular mushrooms:

  • Porcini mushrooms contain approximately 30 kcal per 100 g. They are composed of over 90% water, 2-4% protein, and 2% fiber. Highly sought after for their excellent aroma and flavor, porcini mushrooms are also among the species with the highest antioxidant content.
  • Champignon mushrooms have an average of 20 kcal per 100 g. They are among the fungi with the highest protein content (4%) and constitute a decent source of vitamin B12. The ease of cultivation and the great versatility in the kitchen have made this mushroom the most widely used worldwide for food purposes.
  • Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) are a good source of protein and dietary fiber (2-3%), iron, and antioxidants. They also have a highly appreciated texture that makes them an excellent meat substitute.
  • Shiitake mushrooms are a species rich in calcium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc with distinctly anti-inflammatory and anticoagulant properties. They, too, are famous for their pleasantly meaty texture and very intense taste that makes them perfect in soups and side dishes.

Properties of mushrooms

Mushrooms are a true ally for the health of bones, the cardiovascular system, and the immune system. Their beneficial properties mainly derive from minerals, vitamins, and valuable protective phytochemicals, particularly antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents, and anticoagulants.

Thanks to these substances, mushrooms help the cardiovascular system to stay in shape and have been considered a valuable aid in strengthening immune defenses for centuries.

Another positive aspect of mushrooms is that they contain low sodium and high potassium. Their contribution to flavor also naturally enhances the taste of any food preparation, helping us reduce the use of salt in cooking.

Finally, it is important to know that mushrooms retain their nutritional characteristics even when dried or frozen. This gives us the opportunity to benefit from their nutritional properties at any time of the year.