By Tara Griffith, Junior Community Health student, University of Maryland
Mushrooms seem to be ignored for a variety of reasons. One reason may be that mushrooms are not visually appealing, and since we’re always being told to “eat our colors,” this color-lacking food is swept under the rug. Some may not believe mushrooms are nutrient rich because of their lack of color.
Others may avoid mushrooms simply because they don’t know how to store and prepare them.
I think it’s time we appreciate this frequently misunderstood food. So let’s talk about this funny fungus…
A brief history
When pharaohs of ancient Egypt were first introduced to mushrooms, they decided that mushrooms were for consumption of royalty only. Many other civilizations around the world believed that consuming mushrooms produced super-human strengths and mushroom rituals were practiced.
Fast-forward through time and we land in France, where early cultivation of mushrooms was taking place. By the late 19th century, the practice of growing mushrooms had spread to the United States. Though mushrooms today are being cultivated in almost every state, Pennsylvania is the leading state, accounting for 61% of total mushroom production in the United States.
- are not plants nor animals, but technically classified as “fungi”
- grow from spores, not seeds.
- grow in dark, moist environments.
- contain no chlorophyll and they obtain their nutrition from breaking down dead plants.
Mushrooms are nutritious!
- Fat-free and cholesterol-free
- Low in calories and very low in sodium
- Good source of B vitamins, such as riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid
- Contains the minerals selenium, ergothioneine, copper and potassium
- Mushrooms are actually the leading source of selenium among other produce. Selenium protects the body cells from damage that might lead to disease, and helps to strengthen the immune system.
- They are the only source of vitamin D in the produce aisle.
To find out more about the nutritional value of certain foods and how to incorporate healthy foods into your diet, schedule a free diet analysis appointment at the Center for Health and Wellbeing.
Proper storage of mushrooms is important.
- Always keep mushrooms in the refrigerator when not being used.
- Store mushrooms in their original packaging, which is designed to keep them fresh.
- When buying loose mushrooms, store them in a brown paper bag to limit the accumulation of moisture.
With the plethora of mushroom varieties available and endless ways to eat them, preparing mushrooms is a great way to get creative in the kitchen. With summertime approaching, it’s also a great time get outside and grill up some tasty Portobello Mushroom Burgers.
What are some of your favorite ways to eat mushrooms? Comment below!