Mushrooms are excellent for our health, and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, adding flavour and texture to your favourite dishes.
Mushrooms tend to be one of those things you either love or you hate. It’s a texture thing: when they cook up, mushrooms get a slightly slippery surface with a chewy consistency. This is appealing to some and appalling to others.
Texture aside, mushrooms are excellent for our health, and they come in a variety of crazy shapes and sizes, adding unique flavour and texture to your favourite dishes.
When we consider antioxidants, what often comes to mind are richly coloured fruits and veggies such as acai berries, grapes, blackberries, and kale. However, taupe-coloured mushrooms are also packed with antioxidants. In fact, recent research has revealed portobello mushrooms and crimini mushrooms to contain levels of antioxidants comparable to broccoli, red peppers, and carrots.
In addition to their antioxidant levels, mushrooms also contain compounds that stimulate different immune cells, including T and B cells, macrophages, and natural killer cells. They also contain phytochemicals, which may protect against cancer, as well as vitamin D, which is essential for strong bones and optimal immune function.
Feeling a little adventurous? Pass on the popular white mushrooms and try out one of these tasty fungi.
Also known as enokitake, enoki mushrooms have long thin stems and small white caps. These sweet-tasting mushrooms grow in bunches and are traditionally used in soups.
The wavy folds on the cap of this medicinal mushroom resemble that of the brain. Fabled for its immune-boosting prowess, the maitake mushroom makes a tasty addition to most culinary dishes.
Oyster mushrooms are cream coloured with fan-shaped caps and an anise-like scent. A natural source of the cholesterol-lowering statin drug lovastatin, oyster mushrooms are good for the heart.
Also known as penny bun, the porcini mushroom has a short white stalk and a wide reddish brown cap. It can be purchased fresh or dried and is a popular ingredient in Italian pasta and risotto recipes.
A popular Asian mushroom commonly used in stir-fries and miso soup. The shiitake mushroom has a mild texture when fresh that becomes stronger when dried.
Tasty mushroomy goodness
In the following recipes, mushrooms are the star ingredients, not meat. Cook one up for Meatless Monday tonight.
Men’s health across the life course
Theodore D. Cosco, PhD (Cantab) CPsychol