Nutritional Information

Mushrooms are low in calories, have no cholesterol and are virtually free of fat and sodium. Mushrooms also contain other essential minerals like Selenium, which works with Vitamin E to produce antioxidants that neutralize "free radicals" which can cause cell damage. Studies have suggested that selenium may reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, may slow the progress of HIV disease and may aid in symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, pancreatitis and asthma. Studies show men who eat selenium rich foods may lower their risk of prostate cancer.

Potassium (good for the heart) is also found in mushrooms. It has been suggested a diet with potassium may help to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. Copper is another essential mineral found in mushrooms. Copper aids iron (also found in mushrooms) in making red blood cells and delivers oxygen to the body. Mushrooms also contain three B-complex vitamins; riboflavin for healthy skin and vision, niacin aids the digestive and nervous systems, and pantothenic acid helps with the nervous system and hormone production. These vitamins are found in every cell and help to release energy from fat, protein and carbohydrates in food. Vegetarians should know that mushrooms are one of the best sources of niacin. The vitamin content of mushrooms is actually similar to the vitamin content found in meat.

The amino acid count in mushrooms is higher per serving than corn, peanuts, kidney and soy beans. The average mushroom is also high in protein and nucleic acid.

Hungry for more information about mushrooms?  Visit the following sites:

The American Mushroom Institute
The Mushroom Council
University of Minnesota fungi site

This article from the website 3/4/02

Fungus-Based Meat Substitute Approved
Meat Alternative Popular in Europe

WASHINGTON - A meat substitute made from fungus has been very popular in Europe, and now the Food and Drug Administration has approve it for sale in the United States. Known as mycoprotein, it's marketed under the trade name Quorn. It can be made into such favorites as chicken-like nuggets, lasagna and fettuccine Alfredo. There's even an alternative to ground beef, called "grounds."
Nutrition experts say it has a lot of protein and fiber, and few calories. Scientists found the fungus growing on farms near London in the '60s and discovered that its long strands could mimic the fibrous tissue of meat. Now it's mixed with egg and flavorings and fashioned into imitation meat.
They say it has potential as long as the word "fungus" doesn't appear on the label.


Fact: The first mushrooms were thought to be cultivated in Southeast Asia, but it is not known why for sure. It is possible that someone discovered that mushrooms grew by accident or perhaps there was a demand and someone sought out a growing method.*

Fact: Whether mushrooms are wild or cultivated they continue to grow after they are picked. People sometimes mistake a thin white material called mycelium for mold, but rest assured it probably is the mycelium growing!

Fact: French farmers grew garden beds in the 1700's which ended up being too small and too expensive. They later moved their crops to caves created when the stone for building Paris was quarried - this is where the name champignon de Paris originated. American farmers followed the same method.*

Fact: While mushrooms are canned, pickled and frozen, drying mushrooms is the oldest and most commonly used way to preserve mushrooms.

Fact: Mushroom compost can range from being manure or wood based (sawdust, wood chips) to utilizing materials like cocoa bean or cotton seed hulls, brewers grains , even exotic items like banana leaves as substrate. 

Fact: One Portabella mushroom generally has more potassium than a banana.

Fact: Mushrooms continue to gain popularity, especially the specialty mushrooms such as Portabella, wild Morels, Oysters and Shiitake. Mushrooms, particularly the Portbella are often used in place of meat in many dishes.

Fact: Commercial mushroom farming began in the early 20th century. Pennsylvania and California are the largest mushroom producers. 

Fact: Mushroom "farms" are climate controlled buildings; airflow, temperature and light are all constantly monitored.

Fact: Wild mushrooms can range in price for reasons such as taste, historical significance and availability. European truffles can sell for over $1,600 per pound!

Fact: Wild mushrooms can be found in many wooded areas. If you do choose to harvest wild mushrooms, make certain you have a professional identify your pick. Many mushrooms may resemble safe mushrooms (they are called false mushrooms) and can be poisonous.


*Facts from The Edible Mushroom A Gourmet Cook's Guide by Margaret Leibenstein

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