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Mushroom magic: Amazing health benefits of the humble fungus

Mushroom, though humble, is indeed a superfood. Rich in antioxidants and macronutrients, mushrooms can do wonders to your health and diet. Alas, any affect on skin brightening or glow enhancement hasn't been proven

Mushroom, though humble, is indeed a superfood. Rich in antioxidants and macronutrients, mushrooms can do wonders to your health and diet. Alas, any affect on skin brightening or glow enhancement hasn't been proven
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Weekend Plus Desk :
Of late, the humble mushroom has been creating quite a buzz. While the fungi may not hold a place of honour as the most versatile vegetable in an Indian household, in reality, it is a super food that can be played around with. You can toss, grill, bake, roast or, even better, stuff them according to your culinary preference, to tantalise your taste buds.
Now, many might not fancy it because of its slippery and somewhat slimy texture - for those we are just going to say that you either haven't come across the right recipe or nailed the cooking technique. Yes, there's a lot that goes into making of a sumptuous dish that heroes the ingredient, but it's not undo-able.
While button mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms are the most common types, one of India's most expensive and sought-after ones are the dried morels from the Himalayas, commonly known as gucchi - which cost around Rs 3,116 (approx) for every 100g. It might be expensive but these spongy, honeycombed headed mushrooms are extremely good for cardiovascular health as they have high levels of copper, vitamin E and potassium. It's also rich in antioxidants which helps prevent lipid peroxidation - a process involving the oxidative degradation of lipids - leading to tissue damage which, if left unchecked, can lead to inflammation and cancer. Alas, any affect on skin brightening or glow enhancement hasn't been proven.
We reckon you read up about what wonders these commonly found mushrooms can do to your body and add them to your diet:
Portobello/Button mushrooms
Native to grasslands in Europe and North America, these are one of the most widely consumed mushrooms in the world and go by many names. When immature and white in colour, they are known as button mushrooms or white mushrooms, table mushroom and champignon mushroom. As soon as they turn brown in colour, they go by the names of Swiss brown mushroom, Roman brown mushroom, Italian mushroom and Cremini mushroom. They are a welcome addition to any diet plan as they are rich in macronutrients - fat, carbohydrates and proteins - and are a good source of vitamin B, potassium, copper, zinc and manganese.
Shiitake mushrooms
Mostly consumed in East Asia, these mushrooms are native to Japan and is considered having medicinal properties. It's also commonly known as sawtooth oak mushroom, black forest mushroom, golden oak mushroom and oakwood mushroom. These smoky flavoured food items are considered as the second most cultivated mushrooms in the world and are completely unique because of its nutritional benefits. It contains high amount of copper, almost 65 per cent of the daily value per serving, 52 per cent pantothenic acid (which can alleviate anxiety, stress, respiratory disorder) and 51 per cent selenium (which can boost fertility and improve blood flow and lower your chances of heart diseases). They also serve as a good source of Vitamin D.
Oyster mushrooms
According to a 1997 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, it was found that oyster mushrooms - also known as tree oyster, straw mushroom, hiratake and tamogitake mushroom - have significant anti-bacterial effects. These mushrooms are commonly used in salads, soups and toasts, and get their name due to their faint resemblance to the flavours of oysters. They're also one of the few carnivorous mushrooms in the world! However, they're full of nutrients and are known to prevent cancer, alleviate high cholesterol and inflammation and, also, maintain high blood pressure.
Fun fact
As word goes, somewhere around 1650, a melon grower near Paris discovered mushrooms
growing on his turf and decided to cultivate and introduce it to exclusive Parisian restaurants. Hence, the nickname 'Parisian mushroom'. Later on, Chambry, the French gardener, discovered that the caves in the region had just the right environment - cool and moist- for cultivation. Soon after, large-scale mushroom farms developed in the caves around Paris. n

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