Try a meal with mushrooms for a healthier heart. Our fungal friends contain beta-glucans, which help maintain normal blood cholesterol levels. Since we don’t naturally produce beta-glucans, the only way to get the compound is in our diet.Mushrooms could also be helpful if you’re battling the bulge. They’re low in calories, carbs, fat and sodium, but are a source of fibre and nutrients such as B vitamins, potassium and selenium. Try swapping your usual fatty burger for a Portobello mushroom burger instead. Shiitake mushrooms can stop you from snacking thanks to the satisfying umami flavor according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. But for those who prefer a less pungent flavour, maitake mushrooms are a good option. In one Japanese study the fluffy, fan-shaped mushroom – with a chicken-like taste – helped 30 overweight patients lose a significant amount over two months.
While we tend to choose button mushrooms or Portobello for our risottos and fry-ups, there are a host of more exotic fungi that are used in herbal remedies. Maitake mushrooms, popular in Chinese cookery as well as in herbal remedies, have been found to have a response on our immune system, while modern science continually links reishi mushrooms to immunity.
Mushrooms are easy to prepare and incredibly versatile. Upgrade your dumplings, spaghetti, stir-fries, fry-ups, wraps, salad, sushi and soups – in nutrients and flavour – by throwing in some shiitake, enoki or even button mushrooms. For vegetarians looking for a speedy dinner, Portobello mushrooms oven-baked with cheese (or nutritional yeast for vegans) provides a hearty, warming meal. For those with a taste for Asian cuisine, shiitake mushrooms are a good choice. Keep a bag of dried shiitake mushrooms in the cupboard and simply soak in warm water for 20 minutes before chopping off the woody stalk and throwing in a wok with coconut oil, ginger, snow peas, rice noodles and tamari (gluten-free soy sauce).