They smell of woods and moss, of leaves with burning colors that fall on the damp ground. We are talking about mushrooms, delicious culinary ingredients capable of enriching, with their sweet and round notes, even the simplest recipe. But, as can be seen from the numerous dedicated scientific studies, mushrooms can also be valuable allies for health. So let's see the properties of the mushrooms that you can most commonly find in the supermarket.
Mushrooms, nutritional properties
In general, mushrooms are low-calorie and low in fat while providing fiber, including the very important beta glucans, proteins, mineral salts, such as potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, iron and zinc, and vitamins, such as B1, B2, B12, C, D and E (Valverde et al, Int J Microbiol, 2015). The amount of these nutrients varies according to the type of mushroom, giving different properties to the different species. So let's analyze in detail the different varieties of mushrooms.
King oyster mushrooms, healthy properties
Of king oyster mushrooms, scientific name Pleurotus eryngii, is eaten everything, even the fleshy stem. And risotto, spaghetti and side dishes prepared with king oyster mushrooms are not only delicious, but also a help to keep blood sugar under control. In fact, the regular intake of king oyster mushrooms has made it possible to observe, in diabetic animals and in just a month, a significant reduction in glycemia and glycated hemoglobin, which is an indicator of glycemic levels not at the moment of the analysis but in the preceding weeks, thus presenting an assessment of blood glucose control over a long period of time. Not only that, king oyster mushrooms helped restore damaged pancreatic beta cells and increase the storage of glucose in the liver, thus reducing circulating sugar levels (Li et al, Int J Med Mushrooms, 2014). Then, king oyster mushrooms, thanks to their fiber content, have also been shown to help reduce cholesterol and triglycerides (Wei et al, Polymers, 2018). And that's not all, king oyster mushrooms have antiviral, immunomodulatory and even antidepressant properties (Park et al, J Fungi, 2021).
Shiitake mushrooms and their health benefits
Shiitake mushrooms are now found in all supermarkets, both fresh and dried. Shiitake, thanks to their content in beta glucans, which are a type of fiber, counteract obesity, weight gain, fat accumulation and excessive levels of triglycerides (Handayani et al, J Obes, 2011). Shiitakes are prebiotic and nourish and support the gut microbiota (Das et al, Molecules, 2021). Not only that, shiitakes are anti-inflammatory and antiviral. It is worth noting that lentinan, which is one of the beta glucans found in shiitake mushrooms, is able to stimulate the release of interferon 1, which is a protein capable of interfering with influenza viruses and novel coronavirus (Murphy et al, Sci Total Environ, 2020). Then, shiitake mushroom polysaccharides also exhibit anticancer properties (Roszczyk et al, Int J Mol Sci, 2022). Finally, as shown by scientific studies, shiitakes counteract arteriosclerosis thanks to their antioxidant and cholesterol-lowering properties (Rahman et al, Saudi J Biol Sci, 2018).
Oyster mushrooms, properties and benefits
Oyster mushrooms, scientific name Pleurotus ostreatus, provide fibers that act with a prebiotic action, favoring the proliferation of good bacteria in the intestinal microbiota (Das et al, Molecules, 2021). And, you know, a healthy microbiota guarantees health and balance to the whole organism, including the mood, the immune system, the brain and the lungs! Oyster mushrooms are also anticancer and antioxidant, capable of modulating the immune system and fighting viral infections (Kumar et al, Foods, 2021). Not only that, oyster mushrooms protect the liver and counteract hyperglycemia and hypercholesterolemia, as well as helping to keep blood pressure under control (Kumar et al, Foods, 2021).
Button mushrooms, healthy delights
Small and tasty, button mushrooms or white mushrooms, scientific name Agaricus bisporus, have shown anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties. Not only that, these mushrooms counteract diabetes by stimulating the release of insulin (Kumar et al, Foods, 2021).
Golden chanterelle mushrooms, properties
Golden chanterelle mushrooms or girolle, scientific name Cantharellus cibarius, have shown antioxidant and neuroprotective properties, capable of promoting the vitality of neurons (Lemieszek et al, Carbohydr Polym, 2018). Chanterelles are also anti-inflammatory (Nasiry et al, Int J Med Mushrooms, 2017).
Porcini mushrooms, benefits and properties
Among the most popular and well-known mushrooms, porcini mushrooms, scientific name Boletus eduli, are rich in proteins and antioxidant substances and are characterized by anticancer, antiviral and hepatoprotective properties (Jaworska et al, J Food Sci Technol , 2015).
Mushrooms, recipes and warnings
In the Healthy Recipes section we offer various mushroom-based preparations, such as Pasta with king oyster mushrooms, or linguine with mushrooms and curry or, why not, the delicious mushroom cutlets with cabbage salad. You can indulge in lasagna with red chicory and mushrooms or linguine with mushrooms and turnip greens or try the combination of pumpkin and shiitake mushrooms to make an exquisite sauce. In short, there are recipes for all tastes. We conclude with a recommendation. It is always better to buy mushrooms, which are safe and controlled in this way, and avoid DIY, which requires a great deal of experience.