A Basic Guide for Mushroom Consumption

Ethan Hawley

Since antiquity, mushrooms have been valued for their nutritional and medicinal value, with around 2000 edible species identified.

The Egyptians believed that the mushrooms were a gift from the God Osiris; the ancient Romans thought they were a divine food because Jupiter threw them through lightning. In Greece, the warriors believed that the mushrooms provided them with strength and courage. Among the Chinese and Japanese, mushrooms were considered an asset to health, and the Aztecs used them as hallucinogens in religious rituals and therapeutic purposes.

They are prepared like a vegetable, but they are actually fungi, living organisms without roots, flowers, leaves, or seeds. Consequently, they can be cultivated; however, they are often born wild in different regions of the world. For example, in Portugal, the areas of Trás-os-Montes, Beira Litoral, Ribatejo, and Oeste stand out as producers of this food.

Some spontaneous varieties are highly toxic, requiring only a small amount to damage the digestive and nervous systems and even cause death. For this reason, the harvest must be carried out by people who know the species well.

Nutritional information

Mushrooms are a good source of B vitamins, and interestingly, wild mushrooms are virtually the only food to provide a non-animal derived vitamin D source.

Mushrooms also provide very appreciable amounts of potassium and are a good source of phosphorus, selenium, and copper.

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g = gram; mg = milligram and µg = microgram. Edible part = refers to the weight of the food that is consumed after all waste has been rejectAuthor

Advantages and disadvantages

Mushrooms can be appreciated both for their gastronomic characteristics and for their nutritional value.

For example, they contain an impressive protein value for a non-animal source. Furthermore, mushrooms have essential amino acids, an excellent option for vegetarians. Noteworthy is the low lipid content, which results in a low caloric value.

Moreover, they provide some fiber content, namely hemicelluloses and pectins, and appreciable amounts of vitamins, minerals, and substances with antioxidant characteristics.

How to buy and store

When buying fresh mushrooms, you should prefer those with a firmer texture and are not damaged, with a strange smell, or too dark. The base should be a light color – the lighter it is, the fresher the mushroom.

Also, pay attention to your packaging. If there is too much moisture, the mushrooms may be rotting. The best way to store mushrooms is in a refrigerator within a sealed paper bag. Hence, this will keep them fresh for about a week.

How to use

If you prefer to use fresh mushrooms, try not to wash or soak them in water, as they absorb a lot of liquids. Instead, choose to use a soft brush or a damp cloth to remove excess soil.

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Ethan Hawley is a freelance writer who can condense complicated information into easily digestible articles for consumers and busy executives.

Miami, FL
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