Have you ever wondered about the health benefits of mushrooms?
People have a ‘love it or hate it’ relationship with mushrooms. These oddly shaped and funny smelling fungi are surprisingly rich in rare nutrients that are essential for staying healthy. Let’s take a look.
There are different types of mushrooms available, and only a few are edible. Only a handful of varieties are available in India, and the rarer ones that are imported are fairly expensive.
Most mushrooms have varying quantities of protein and fiber. However, they are also rich in B vitamins, that are essential in keeping our vital structures including the nerves healthy.
One particular element that mushrooms are rich in is selenium. This mineral has powerful anti-oxidant properties, and can help boost your immunity dramatically. Interestingly, white mushrooms are rich in vitamin D, a vitamin that is generally synthesized by the body on exposure to sunlight.
Besides this, there appears to be some evidence that mushrooms may have anti-cancer properties. They may help boost memory and prevent conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Mushrooms also seem to have cardiac protection effects. They are believed to help lower cholesterol, which is a common risk factor for heart attacks and strokes. This might just be one of the best health benefits of mushrooms.
However, the reduction may just be modest at most, so don’t rely on these smelly fungi to lower your bad cholesterol levels.
When cooking mushrooms, keep the cooking times short. Overcooking them can rid them of their nutritional properties. Of course, do bear in mind that mushrooms can be eaten raw, but make sure you clean them properly before you do so.
So, go on…. have yourself some mushrooms!
Dr Vivek Baliga is a medical practitioner and the director of a diagnostic center – Baliga Diagnostics – in Bangalore. He specializes in diabetes and heart disease, and is a visiting consultant in Internal Medicine at corporate hospitals. He is married and has one son.