*mushrooms in Anduze, France along the Cevennes range

Mushrooms are beautiful and have a wonderful history. It is believed that the word mushroom is derived from a French word mousseron which means moss, while the term toadstool comes from Dutch/German origin. The mushroom’s perceived growth rate has led to terms like “mushrooming” or to “mushroom” meaning to appear or expand quickly. The word mushroom is used to describe many different types of fungi but I will focus on the edible ones. There are 25 cultivated varieties of mushroom. Shitake, portabello and white button are the most common. The white button’s true name is Agaricus bisporus and is found in two other forms – crimini or brown mushrooms and the popular Portabell0. Mushrooms are usually 80-90 percent water and therefore very low in calories. On average, a serving of 5 medium sized mushrooms is around 20 calories, 3 carbs and almost no fat.
Mushrooms are a good source of the selenium, especially portabello and white button. A serving of portabello mushrooms can provide about 1/3 of the RDA for selenium. Selenium has be linked recently to reducing risk of certain cancers. Mushrooms also contain the B-vitamins riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid but are an especially good source of riboflavin. A portabella serving provides 1/3 of the RDA and a serving of white provides 1/4 the RDA of riboflavin. Mushrooms are also a good source of potassium. Around 3 oz of portabello mushrooms can provide more potassium than a banana or and orange. It is hard to believe but for most of history people thought mushrooms contained very little nutritional value.
Research has also shown that mushrooms (particularly button mushrooms) contain substances that inhibit the activity of aromatase and 5-alpha-reductase helping to reduce the risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer.
Shiitake mushrooms have been used for many centuries. The Chinese and Japanese used them to treat colds and the flu. The beta-glucan Lentinan found in shiitake mushrooms has been show to stimulate the immune system.
–Remember that there are many varieties of poisonous mushrooms. As a precaution you should never eat mushrooms you find in the wild or come from an unknown or untrustworthy source.
For more information on mushrooms visit the Mushroom Council Web Site

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