Mushrooms pack vitamins and minerals

Need an extra reason to pick up mushrooms from your supermarket today?

Mushrooms are more than just flavor enhancers for a variety of meals. Besides adding taste to salads, soups, casseroles, rice dishes, stir-fry, scrambled eggs and other dishes, mushrooms are flat out nutritious.

They are excellent sources of protein, vitamins (A, B5, B6, C, D), amino acids, minerals (potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, selenium, copper, zinc), fiber and iron. These vitamins and minerals play an important role in boosting the immune system and keeping your body healthy.

Mushrooms also contain antioxidants and are low in sodium and calories. The following are five healthy types of mushrooms commonly found in stores:

  1. Portobello mushrooms (also known as portabella): These brown mushrooms are frequently used as a meat substitute by vegans or vegetarians in sandwiches and burgers because of their meaty texture. They are rich in selenium, which is an antioxidant or substance that helps reduce the risk of certain diseases by preventing cellular damage from free radicals in the body.

  2. White button mushrooms: Also called a table mushroom, this small-sized mushroom has a mild flavor that intensifies when cooked. It is commonly used in salads, meat dishes, soups or pastas. At grocery stores, they are found freshly packaged, dried or in a canned form. They are also good sources of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

  3. Shiitake mushrooms: These spongy, meaty-textured mushrooms with a woodsy taste are very popular in many Asian dishes. In addition to their antioxidants benefits, they may have an immune-boosting effect in the body.

  4. Oyster mushrooms: These broad mushrooms with oyster-shaped caps and tan and ivory colors contain significant antioxidant properties. A 3-ounce serving of oyster mushrooms contains 13 milligrams of the amino acid ergothioneine which is very high in antioxidants. Cooking the mushrooms does not reduce this level.

  5. Porcini mushrooms: Porcini mushrooms (usually purchased dried) are costlier than other mushrooms and have a distinct woodsy taste. They are used in preparation of soups, stews and casseroles. Porcinis are also rich in vitamins and minerals.

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