Health Buzz Feed explores the many types of mushrooms, their health benefits, how they help lose weight, their nutritional facts, choosing, cooking them and dispel the general fear of mushrooms.
Mushrooms have been eaten for centuries and used for their medicinal properties around the world.
No wonder, mushrooms were reserved for royalty in ancient Egypt and legend has it that pharaohs loved them so much that they forbid commoners from touching it.
Mushrooms, called “The Plant of Immortality” by the ancient Egyptians.
Though most people think of mushrooms as vegetables, however, these earthy nutritional powerhouses are neither a vegetable nor meat. In fact, they are a kind of beneficial fungus.
Mushrooms are so distinct that they have created their own kingdom. It is estimated that there are between 300 to 2000 edible varieties of mushrooms.
With just 10 varieties of mushrooms being grown commercially, over 100 mushroom species are being studied for their health-promoting benefits. In
In fact, there are at least 140000 mushroom species on earth and just 10% of it is known by the scientists.
Let us explore the magical, healing, and the immortal world of mushrooms:
- Best Mushrooms To Eat & Their Health Benefits
- Mushrooms Nutritional Facts
- How Mushrooms Aid Weight loss & Help In Weight Management
- Tips On How to Cook Mushrooms
- Tips On How To Select & Buy Mushrooms
14 Best Mushrooms To Eat & Their Health Benefits
1. Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)
Also known as “king of mushrooms”, reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) has been used for thousands of years for its medicinal properties.
Very popular in Japan and known as Ling Zhi in Chinese, these mushrooms are extremely potent in many organic compounds such as:
Triterpenes which turn off body’s response to allergies.
Sterols which act as precursors to hormones in the body.
Various essential polysaccharides which fight cancer cell development.
These mushrooms are mainly used for purely medicinal purposes and taste extremely bitter and have a tough texture.
You are unlikely to find them fresh in your local stores and mostly available as supplements pills, capsules or powdered.
If you love eating mushrooms, you might not be able to enjoy reishi in your favorite mushroom recipe.
However, you can unleash the medicinal health benefits of reishi mushroom in a cup of tea or soup.
2. Maitake (Grifola frondosa) commonly called “hen of the woods”
These mushrooms are native to the mountains of northeastern Japan and mitake means “the dancing mushroom” by the Japanese.
Mitake mushrooms grow in clusters at the bottom of trees.
They are appetizing, delicious and known in Japanese herbology to balance complete body systems.
In traditional Japanese and Chinese medicine, maitake mushrooms are used to enhance the immune system and offer many health benefits.
Modern science and many types of research have found that maitake mushrooms have the capabilities to regulate blood sugar levels and diabetes.
Mitake mushrooms also make a great addition to your diet and help to lose weight because of its ability to regulate liver lipids, cholesterol, phospholipids, and triglycerides.
A specific polysaccharide known as beta-D-glucans found in mitake mushrooms boosts the immune system and helps fight cancer.
These powerful glucans have also been patented and found in many mushroom supplements as “D-fraction” and “MD-fraction” which are actually the concentration of maitake polysaccharides.
Mitake is rich in minerals such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium. They contain vitamins such as D2, Niacin, and B2.
Whats. more, they are also a good source of proteins, certain fibers, amino acids that are essential for proper body function.
3. Buna Shimeji Mushrooms (Hypsizygus essellatus)
Another mushroom which has its origin from Japan, shimeji mushrooms are now being cultivated in the US and Europe and can be bought in dried form.
Since is commonly found on beach trees, it is called “Beech Mushroom.”
Rich in umami compounds and meaty texture, these mushrooms are known for their medicinal properties, loaded with beta-glucans which may help treat asthma, certain allergies, reduce the risk of diabetes, cancer, and tumors.
They are also good at enhancing metabolism rate naturally and losing weight.
Shimeji mushrooms are an excellent addition to a healthy diet. They are a good source of proteins, B vitamins, potassium, zinc, copper and dietary fiber.
Though they are often used in soups, stir-fries, garnish or side dish in Asian cooking, they are best used in combination with other vegetables enhancing the flavors of the dish.
Avoid eating Shinji raw because it has a bitter taste. Surprisingly once it is cooked, the bitterness disappears completely and has a pleasant, nutty, crunchy and firm flavor.
4. Chanterelles Mushrooms (Cantharellus cibarius)
One of the most delicious and sought after mushrooms, chanterelles offer a delicate taste with hearty texture.
Chanterelles became popular in France in the 18th century where they were served to the royals and ruling classes in Europe.
It commands a high price in stores and restaurants for being so flavorful and the golden chanterelles are considered to be at par with truffles and morels by chefs and considered a culinary delight.
Add these mushrooms to your diets not just for the delicate taste but also for health benefits it offers.
Chanterelles are a good source of proteins, vitamin B, selenium, potassium, copper, and fiber.
They are great stress busters, known to help relieve migraine headaches, improve brain function, alleviate PMS syndrome, decrease the risk of diabetes and improve skin.
Try this delicious Fresh Chanterelle with Shallots and Butter Recipe
5. Chaga Mushrooms (Inonotus obliquus)
One of the most potent antioxidant sources on planet earth, Chaga mushrooms grows on birch trees in cold climates.
Chaga does not look like mushrooms and technically speaking, it is a highly concentrated mass of mycelium and looks like dark and hard burnt charcoal.
If the look and description have already put you off already? looks can be deceptive. Chaga mushroom packs a mighty nutritional punch with a bang.
One of the best mushrooms when it comes to medicinal properties, Chaga contains over 215 phytonutrients, glyconutrients, which may serve as antioxidants.
These phytonutrients include Betulinic Acid, Polysaccharides, Beta Glucans, Tripeptides, Sterols, Saponins, Inotodiols, Trametenolic Acid, and Melanin.
Chaga is also a rich source of amino acids, dietary fiber, vitamin B1, B3, vitamin D, minerals such as Copper, Selenium, Zinc, Manganese, Iron, (Magnesium, Potassium, Calcium, Chloride, Sodium, Phosphorus.
Chaga is also the most Alkaline food on this planet due to its such vast and rich mineral composition.
To unleash medicinal benefits of Chaga is to consume it by drinking a delicious cup of Chaga tea.
Here is a simple Chaga tea recipe you can try at home.
Grind one chunk of Chaga in grinder or blender to make powder. Use one teaspoon of the powder in a tea infuser and add it to a cup of hot water. Let it sit in hot water for about 5 minutes, longer the better.
Remove the infuser, add honey or maple syrup if needed for flavor.
Healthy, nutritious, and antioxidant rich cup of Chaga tea is ready to go.
Also read: Flaxseed Health Benefits You Cannot Ignore
6. King Trumpet Mushroom (Pleurotus Eryngii)
Also known as king oyster mushroom, king trumpet mushroom is the largest species of the oyster mushroom family.
Known for its robust earthy flavor, meaty texture and aroma, this mushroom does not go bad easily.
King trumpet contains high amounts of a naturally occurring antioxidant amino acid known as ergothioneine which provide protection against free radical damage and help reduce the risks of many chronic diseases.
Though all mushrooms are rich in selenium, an antioxidant, the king trumpet mushroom extracts and concentrate high levels of selenium from its environment which is organically bound. Hence it is easily absorbed by the body compared to commercially available selenium dietary supplements
King trumpet help reduce cholesterol, triglyceride, and glucose levels since they naturally contain statins such as lovastatin.
Try this Roasted King Oyster mushroom recipe.
7. Turkey Tail Mushrooms (Trametes Versicolor)
This colorful, tenacious mushroom with colorful fall like a palette of stripes resembles the tail of the turkey.
Turkey tail mushrooms have been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years and this mushroom’s extract known as PSK (protein-bound Polysaccharide Krestin) is widely used in Japan to treat various cancers.
Turkey tail PSK extracts may help patients going through chemotherapy and help reduce side effects such as fatigue, nausea, vomiting, pain, and loss of appetite.
There are studies which show that turkey tail mushrooms can even regenerate damaged bone marrow.
It helps prevent and treat the common cold, flu, treat infections such as HPV, and even offer help to people suffering from HIV/AIDS.
Turkey tail mushrooms are best had as teas, tinctures, extracts, and could be just chewed like gum. Overall, turkey tail mushrooms offer a mild, pleasant, mushroomy aroma and flavor.
8. Crimini (Button) Mushrooms
Button shaped, small, rich brown earthy tasting crimini mushrooms are mini portabellas.
Extremely nutritious, crimini mushrooms contain several antioxidants such as ergothioneine, riboflavin, selenium.
They are low in calorie and fats, good source of dietary fiber, potassium, B vitamins, niacin and pantothenic acid
these button mushrooms have shown impressive immune system benefits which surpass exotic counterparts such as maitake and shiitake.
Crimini mushrooms are a welcome addition to any meal with great taste and nutrition. They are easily available in most grocery stores. Have them with eggs for breakfasts or add them to your veggie meals, soups, stir fries.
Have them with eggs for breakfasts or add them to your veggie meals, soups, stir fries.
9. Morels (Morchella esculenta)
Morels are wild mushrooms and belong to the same species as the exotic truffle.
This spongy, cone-shaped, honeycomb textured mushroom is unique with nutty and earthy taste.
Many types of research suggest that morels promote healthy liver and reduce risks of many cancers.
Like other mushrooms, morels are low in calories, fats and a great source of copper, vitamin E, vitamin D, Iron and many other vitamins and minerals.
They are also an excellent source of antioxidants which help boost immune system and control diabetes.
Morels go well in pasta, soups, casseroles and the best is to saute them.
Always cook these mushrooms and never eat them raw to avoid getting sick.
10. Portobello Mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus)
A button mushroom, portobello is nothing but mature or overgrown crimini mushrooms.
Their meaty texture and intense flavors are low-calorie, a good source of protein, fiber and contain a lot of water which makes them low energy density food.
Great addition to a healthy diet and they may help lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
Portobello mushrooms offer just as many antioxidants activity as its exotic counterparts such as shiitake, maitake, and reishi suggested by researchers.
They also contain good amounts of proteins, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants essential to maintain good health which helps prevent neurodegenerative diseases, maintain energy levels and boost immunity.
Roast them, grill them, boil them and replace them for meats in your diet.
11. Enoki Mushrooms (Flammulina veluptipes)
Also known as Enokitake and Enokidake, Enoki is an elegant, crisp and mildly sweet mushroom.
Native of Japan and known as “snow puffs”, they are extremely powerful immune system boosters.
According to Japanese researchers, eating enoki mushrooms regularly can cut the risk of cancer by 50%.
Enoki mushrooms have also been used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine for centuries. Considered a tonic for stomach ailments, high blood pressure, liver diseases to mention a few.
Like most other fresh mushrooms, enoki mushrooms are low calorie, fat-free, sugar-free, and an excellent source of proteins, many antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Add enoki mushrooms to your healthy diet and enjoy all the goodness of this superfood!
12. Shiitake (Lentinula edodes)
Prized for their medicinal properties, rich, meaty, savory taste, and many health benefits, Shiitake mushrooms are the second most popular mushrooms in the world.
Extremely low in calories, shiitakes contain a type of essential fatty acid called linoleic acid and all eight amino acids as meat.
Hence, it is an ideal replacement for meats.
Linoleic acid helps lose weight, fight obesity and helps build muscles. These mushrooms also help control blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation in the body, and they offer antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties.
These mushrooms help lower cholesterol, fight cancer, boost immunity, lose weight, combat obesity which is due to being a good source of polysaccharides, terpenoids, sterols and lipids.
There are many ways you can include these mushrooms to your diets including eating them raw.
13. Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus)
The most versatile mushroom, oysters come in many many shades and look beautiful.
Oyster mushrooms offer many health benefits, loaded with antioxidants, antibacterial properties.
Eating these mushrooms regularly helps prevent cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, and many other health risks.
They are also a source of zinc, potassium, iron, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin B’s, niacin, folic acid and other essential nutrients.
They have a subtle and sweet flavor which tastes great and they are the best alternative to portobellos or button mushrooms.
14. Porcini (Boletus edulis)
Also known as Cepes, Cèpe de Bordeaux, Champignon polonaise, King Bolete and Penny Bun.
Porcini mushrooms are wild mushrooms and native to Italy. These mushrooms are still not cultivated commercially which makes them rare and typically available in dried form.
This meaty mushroom has a rich woody flavor and offers more protein compared to any other vegetable.
They are anti-inflammatory and contains the compound called ergosterol, which is capable of fighting against many infection-causing diseases.
It is advisable to cook these mushrooms fully or they could give you an irritable stomach.
Great mushroom to roast, braise or saute.
How Mushrooms Aid Weight loss & Help In Weight Management
There is No single food on planet earth which can actually help you burn fat and lose weight.
Mantra to weight loss is healthy diet changes, increased physical activity, and certain permanent lifestyle changes.
According to the National guidelines recommendation, a reduction in intake of 600 calories a day could lead to a weekly weight loss around 0.5kg (1lb).
That does not mean you have to starve. You just need to replace certain high calorie, high-fat foods with low calorie and high nutrient foods such as mushrooms.
Including mushrooms to your diets will not only aid weight loss but also help a great deal in keeping it off.
Mushrooms are low-calorie foods
Typically, one cup of chopped white mushrooms contains just 15 calories, almost negligible fats, gives you 2.2 grams of protein, 2.3 grams of carbs and .7 grams of fiber as well.
Most mushrooms offer almost the same amount of nutrients per serving regardless of their shape and size.
Substitute some meats with mushrooms
Replacing some meats with mushrooms can be an excellent weight loss strategy.
In a 1-year randomized clinical trial, researchers followed 73 participants (64 women, 9 men).
They found that participants on the mushroom diet were consuming 173 fewer calories and 4.5 grams less fat each day which led them to lose an average of 7 pounds each.
It was also found that participants who replaced meats with mushrooms saw a larger drop in BMI, waist circumference, and total percent of body fat compared to participants who didn’t change their diets at all.
By consuming more mushrooms and decreasing your meat intake definitely help you shed some pounds and load you up boost your energy levels.
Mushrooms have the similar taste and texture as meat which makes it even easier substitute. They are just as satiating as meat.
Mushrooms are rich in dietary fiber
Dietary fiber is one of the pillars when it comes to weight loss and weight management.
It functions as bulking agents which keep you full for longer. Which means you feel less hungry and reduce overall calorie consumption.
Since mushrooms are an excellent source of fiber, several studies suggest that a diet high on fiber can help you lose weight.
Mushrooms also contain super-powerful flavor enhancer called glutamic acid. They also have the ability to seamlessly blend into vegetables and meats.
Besides lending flavor, texture, aroma to your dishes, mushrooms also contribute exceptional nutrition which helps lose weight and keep you healthy.
Mushroom Nutrition Facts
Mushrooms are a good source of vitamins:
Vitamins B’s, including riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid.
All vitamin B’s help in providing energy to the body by breaking down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. These vitamins also play an important role in the proper functioning of our nervous system and brain health.
Vitamin B’s also play an important role in the proper functioning of our nervous system and brain health.
Pantothenic acid (B5): also known as “anti-stress” vitamin is essential for the body to manufacture red blood cells and sex and stress-related hormones produced in the adrenal glands.
It is also important in maintaining a healthy digestive tract and synthesize cholesterol.
Riboflavin (B2): helps maintain healthy blood cells and also works as an antioxidant preventing damages caused by free radicals.
It helps in boosting energy levels, metabolism, protect and improve eye and skin health.
Niacin (B3): is an important water-soluble vitamin and part of B complex. It helps maintain the healthy cardiovascular system, balancing cholesterol levels, prevent and treat diabetes, promote healthy skin and it’s formation.
It also plays an important part in the proper functioning of the digestive and nervous system.
Vitamin D: Surprisingly, mushrooms are the only exceptional produce which provides vitamin D.
Mushrooms are mostly cultivated in the dark, hence researchers recommend to leave mushrooms in the sun for half an hour before eating.
Providing sun exposure to mushrooms can provide you with as much vitamin D as any health supplement according to a study presented at the American Society for Biochemistry and Microbiology in Boston and published in the journal Dermato-Endocrinology.
Mushrooms are an excellent source of essential minerals:
Selenium: An essential trace mineral which works as an antioxidant and protects body cells from oxidative damage.
It offers antiviral effects and has been found to be essential for fertility and reproduction in both male and female.
Selenium also reduces the risks of autoimmune, thyroid diseases and cancers and important for cognitive function.
Though there are many meat and grain sources of selenium, mushrooms are the richest source of selenium in the produce aisle and ideal for vegetarians and vegans.
Ergothioneine: An amino acid primarily found in mushrooms and functions as an antioxidant. This powerful antioxidant amino acid is being dubbed as the New Human Vitamin which helps protect the body’s cells. The bonus, ergothioneine does not get destroyed while cooking.
This powerful antioxidant amino acid is being dubbed as the New Human Vitamin which helps protect the body’s cells. The bonus – ergothioneine does not get destroyed while cooking. (1)
Copper: an essential trace mineral necessary for survival which helps make red blood cells and carry oxygen throughout the body and properly carry out many enzyme reactions.
It aids formation of collagen and improved health of connective tissues, hair, and eyes.
Copper aids proper utilization of iron and its absorption, regulates heart rhythm, helps in wound healing and formation of red blood cells, balances thyroid glands and reduces cholesterol. (2)
Potassium: One of the third most abundant mineral in our body which is essential for to maintain fluid and electrolyte balance.
This mineral is also required by many organs to function such as heart, brain, kidneys and muscular tissues.
Potassium also keeps the body hydrated, crucial for heart, digestive and muscular function. (3)
Beta-glucans: are naturally occurring polysaccharides found in mushrooms.
Beta glucan is indigestible soluble fiber which slows down food transit in the intestines helping keep blood sugar levels stable and reduce cholesterol levels.
Scientists suggest that beta-glucan can stimulate the immune system, fight off disease, infection and contribute to resistance against allergies more effectively.
According to a study published in “European Journal of Clinical Nutrition” reports that beta-glucan is especially effective at lowering blood pressure among those who are already obese and have high blood pressure. (4)
Polysaccharides: They are complex long chain carbohydrates.
They provide very important dietary elements for human nutrition such as potential sources of energy and provide anti-inflammatory and immune modulating properties.
According to controlled human trials, it was found that intake of polysaccharide stimulated the immune system of healthy adults, improved survival rates in cancer patients and reduced allergic responses to the respiratory inflammatory agent. (5)
Tips On How to Cook Mushrooms
Cooking with mushrooms is an easy way to kick up the flavors of your dishes in a brand new way. These edible fungi are nutritional powerhouses and loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, proteins and dietary fiber.
They come in many sizes, tastes, and textures. With a little inspiration, you can boost your meals with the magic of mushrooms.
Mushrooms are delicious and packed with umami, earthy, woody flavors.
They add body, texture, and depth to your dishes. Here are a few tips to keep in mind while cooking these marvelous fungi.
1. Make sure the mushrooms are dry and clean before you cook them.
Avoid washing mushrooms and never soak them. If you do so, they will absorb water which will make it hard to brown them while cooking. And, they will also lose their subtle flavor.
Instead, clean them with damp paper towel or you could use a pastry brush. It might sound like a herculean task to wipe or brush each mushroom but believe me, it’s worth it.
After all, you would not want to ruin your dish with soggy mushrooms or dirt crunch.
2. Mushrooms tend to shrink while cooking because they contain a lot of water which is released while cooking.
Cook them on high flame to get rid of all the water and get that brown color. Cooking them on low or medium flame will take a long time for water to evaporate and leave the mushrooms tasteless.
Cooking them on low or medium flame will take a long time for water to evaporate and leave the mushrooms tasteless.
3. You can bring out the flavors of mushrooms by cooking them in butter or olive oil.
Use good quality fats as they soak up fats readily. Remember, you are cooking them on high flame. If there is not enough fat, they will get burnt. Keep an eye on the pan and add oils or fats as desired.
If there is not enough fat, they will get burnt. Keep an eye on the pan and add oils or fats as desired.
4. Avoid overcrowding mushrooms in the pan. Make sure they have enough room or they will get steamed.
5. Mushrooms go extremely well with eggs garlic and black pepper. Spice up your breakfasts by using them in
Spice up your breakfasts by using them in omelets or scrambled eggs.
6. Make quick appetizers with stuffed mushrooms. Be creative and experiment with the stuffing you would enjoy.
7. Stir-fry or saute mushrooms in olive oil, soy sauce, and other vegetables to make a quick and healthy snack.
8. Mushrooms are also extremely delicious when grilled, baked, cooked in soups, and used in a stuffing.
Tips On How To Select & Buy Mushrooms
You are not the only one who feels overwhelmed at the grocery store with so many produce and choices.
Many times it becomes really difficult to move out of the culinary comfort zones and choose new produce and experiment.
But once you step out, there are so many mushroom options available that will surprise you.
Here is a quick guide on how to choose good mushrooms and get going.
1. Look for mushrooms which look fresh and have a clean woody smell. Choose the ones that aren’t broken or bruised.
2. You want to avoid buying them if they smell of mildew, musty or moldy smell.
3. Ensure that the mushrooms are firm and not squishy or lumpy.
4. You are definitely not buying mushrooms which are wet, moldy, desiccated or look shriveled.
5. Matured mushrooms will be softer and browned
6. If possible, buy loose mushrooms instead of buying packaged ones. You get to choose and buy as much as you need.
7. Store them in an open paper bag, avoid plastic bags. Paper bag will absorb the moisture and allow them to breathe.
The humble, earthy mushroom offers exceptional nutritional value which is greater than one may think! More than just a condiment for salads or stir-fries, they’re actually one of the healthiest foods that you can eat.