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Did you know that mushrooms aren’t plants, but rather, they’re considered part of the fungi kingdom? Even though they don’t have leaves, roots, or seeds, and don’t need light to grow, the U.S. Department of Agriculture still classifies them as vegetables. “Why?” you ask? They provide many of the same nutritional attributes as vegetables, bridging core food groups.
Many mushrooms lack the color that other vegetables have, but don’t let that fool you – they still have many nutritional benefits. They’re an excellent source of copper, and vitamin B (folate, riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, pantothenic acid), which help collect energy from food and form red blood cells that keep our bodies and brains healthy! Mushrooms are the only and best vegan source of vitamin D when exposed to UV rays.
In addition, they contain potassium, fiber, and vitamin C, which can contribute to heart health! Potassium assists in regulating blood pressure, decreasing the risk of hypertension, maintaining fluids and electrolyte balance, and the presence of fiber helps conditions such as type II diabetes.
Why Mushrooms are SUPERFOODS
So, you may be wondering, “Why is the mushroom a SUPERFOOD?”. Because mushrooms contain one magical antioxidant known as selenium! Selenium aids in supporting the immune system by preventing damage to the cells and tissues. Another reason mushrooms are considered a superfood is their ability to destroy viruses including flu, smallpox, salmonella, E. Coli, and yeast. Lectin binds to abnormal/cancer cells and labels them for destruction by the immune system.
How to get maximum nutrients from mushrooms
Our digestive system can’t break down the compound that makes up the cell walls of mushrooms – known as chitin. So, to dissolve the good stuff from within the cells of the mushroom, it’s recommended to expose it to high heat (broil, sauté, deep-fry, or bake) to melt it down – ensuring that we’re unlocking their flavor and getting all the nutrition and health effects we’re looking for.
The good news is, besides the numerous health benefits, mushrooms are 90% water, fat-free, cholesterol-free, low in sodium, and full of fiber – so you can’t go wrong with including mushrooms in your daily routine!
Need some inspiration for dishes that incorporate mushrooms? Check out these simple recipes!