Mushrooms are a little like Marmite, but love them or hate them (personally I snack on a handful a day) the humble mushroom has indisputable health benefits.
Mushrooms are the leading vegetable source of selenium, which is an antioxidant involved in the battle against cellular damage, working alongside vitamin E to protect cells from free radicals. Recent studies indicate that mushrooms can play a role in fighting and protecting against cancer (especially breast and prostate). Levels of ergothioneine, a powerful antioxidant, are 12 times higher in a handful of mushrooms than wheatgerm, previously thought to be the leading source.
It may also surprise you to hear that mushrooms outrank bananas (and most other fruit and veg) in their potassium content. Potassium helps the body to regulate fluid balance, heart, nerve and muscle function, and is a key player in controlling blood pressure.
Mushrooms are packed with energy-releasing B-vitamins: B1 (thiamine), B3 (niacin) plus riboflavin (B2) and folate (B9) which are essential for production of healthy blood cells. They are the only source of vitamin D in the produce aisle, essential for healthy bones. Copper is an essential mineral that the body cannot manufacture itself. Copper protects the cardiovascular system, and one serving of mushrooms contains 20% of our daily needs.
Mushrooms are a nifty addition to any dish, being rich in protein, fat-free and high in fibre (there is more fibre in a 100g serving of mushrooms than a slice of wholemeal bread), which means they fill you up without adding the calories. With 90% water content they absorb flavours perfectly and require little or no oil for cooking.
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