Mushrooms: Clean, then Cook, then Eat

Mushrooms are edible fungi. The common scientific name is “Agaricus”, though there are different names for different species.

They are essentially Saprophytes, plants without chlorophyll which thrive by extracting nutrients from dead and decaying plant and animal matter. That’s why they can grow well with no soil and in dark places. They vary greatly in their appearance and properties – as we know.

Edible mushrooms are low in calories, fat and cholesterol-free. They are very low in sodium yet they provide important nutrients; selenium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin and ergo-sterol which is converted into vitamin D2 with ultraviolet exposure – a good complementary, alternative vitamin D source for vegans and a long time, traditional immune booster.

Most recently, extended trials associated a bioactive agent from edible mushrooms; ergothioneine. It is shown to effectively decrease cardio vascular inflammatory response in humans and tumor inhibiting qualities in animal trials.

The list of edible mushrooms considered safe for raw consumption is quite short.

“Buttons”, the round, white, familiar variety and many other edible mushrooms contain hydrazines, a group of chemical compounds generally considered carcinogenic and are not truly safe for raw consumption.

The composition of mushroom cell walls opposed to cellulose cell walls of plants are difficult for humans to digest. And, for the most part are not a low “Fodmap” food for those that need to follow these diet restrictions. The cooking process does help to break down the fungal cell walls rendering mushroom flesh not only more readily digestible but also releasing the significant nutritional value contained within these cells.

So for most all mushrooms – Clean, then Cook, then Eat!