February 22nd, 2010

Mushrooms are fascinating fungus

by Tim, 5 Comments »

Mushrooms are fascinating fungus. Typically, when we hear the word fungus, we have a negative reaction, and rightfully so, as fungus can be extremely harmful. However, just as fungus can be extremely harmful, so it can be extremely beneficial, and such is the case with mushrooms.

I have always been somewhat indifferent towards mushrooms. Everything about them just seemed vague, and some of their characteristics still do. I have never had a particular liking or disliking of mushrooms, and so, perhaps for that very reason, it has been easier for me to cultivate a liking of them.

Oddly enough, one of the experiences that got me on the path to liking mushrooms, was pizza. When I think of bad tasting mushrooms, I think of mushrooms on pizza. They always have a weird taste and texture. I don’t know, it is just a bad picture in my mind. However, I just happen to eat a wild mushroom pizza at Dewey’s Pizza, and I was like “yeah, these are good mushrooms”.

So, I recently bought some organic shiitake mushrooms at Whole Foods, and thus the reason for this post:

Since that time I have read, and heard, some pretty amazing things about mushrooms. Things like: 6 ways mushrooms can save the world, or all of the nutritional information and health benefits. I have also had, and made, some excellent grilled portobella mushrooms (they make an excellent sandwich with roasted red peppers, lettuce, cheese, and, well, whatever you want to add to the sandwich: ).

While there are numerous benefits to eating mushrooms, I want to highlight a couple. Crimini mushrooms (portabella’s are large crimini’s) not only contain B vitamins but are excellent natural sources of selenium. Selenium is a necessary cofactor for the body to produce its own antioxidant glutathione. In the Baltimore Study on Aging, it showed men with lowest blood levels of selenium to have a 4-5 fold increased risk of prostate cancer. In addition, properties of mushrooms like beta-glucans and the antioxidant L-ergothioneine provide excellent immune support and have shown anti-cancer effects. Shiitakes contain lentinan, a substance that can heal chromosome damage caused by anti-cancer treatments. In general, mushrooms are low in carbohydrates and calories and high in B vitamins, fiber, iron, niacin, potassium, protein, riboflavin, selenium and zinc.

Even though they are not vegetables, I think the best way to prepare mushrooms is like vegetables: grilled, saut√©ed, or broiled with a good fat (coconut oil, butter, olive oil, avocado oil) and sea salt. And, it is nice to know that the antioxidant L-ergothioneine is not destroyed when mushrooms are cooked. Having said that, hopefully, that stirs your desire to experiment a bit more with mushrooms, and then, you can post your experimentations, accompanied by mouth watering photos and let me know. Then I can come to your blog and drool. Except I don’t drool.

  • Hmmn. Pretty compelling arguments…. I will say this makes me want to want mushrooms, and that's a good first step, I think.

  • Ha, well, yes, I guess wanting to want is a good first step. Do you always say hmm with an “n” at the end?… makes me want to say hmmnah.

  • Lan

    i'm currently on a shiitake mushroom kick. it's always reasonably priced at my grocery store so i grab a container every week. i'm not tired of it yet. i throw it in pretty much everything, tho i did make a mushroom pate last month that was lovely.
    i had a discussion with my cousins this weekend about mushrooms. she LOVES portabella mushrooms cooked in simple chinese stirfry, where the caps just seem to hold onto the sauce and gets spongy, biting into it is so satisfying.
    i went to a high end restaurant recently and tried a truffle aioli sauce that was really good, my first time tasting this obnoxiously priced fungus.

  • Ha, yeah, some of them fungi are quite obnoxiously priced. I just made portabella sandwiches last night where I broiled the caps with avocado oil and it was vonderful. v.

  • Ha, yeah, some of them fungi are quite obnoxiously priced. I just made portabella sandwiches last night where I broiled the caps with avocado oil and it was vonderful. v.