Diet & Nutrition

7 fun-gi facts anyone who’s obsessed with mushrooms needs to know

Get ready to fall in love with mushrooms all over again!

By BTYB Manuka Health
Mushrooms are easily one of the most polarising foods on the planet. The texture alone is enough to turn someone completely off, or make someone completely obsessed.
If you relate to the latter, you're probably familiar with the versatility of the mushroom and that it has some pretty distinct nutritional qualities. But did you know that certain varieties are more powerful than others?
Here, seven things you need to know if you're a mushroom fanatic.

1. Mushrooms are edible fungi

Technically mushrooms aren't a vegetable, they're actually the fleshy and edible fruit body of several species of macrofungi.
Although most mushrooms are edible, just over 20 species, out of thousands, are cultivated and consumed worldwide. Some of the most popular varieties include; the button mushroom, the oyster mushroom, the enoki mushroom and the Portabello mushroom.

2. A single portabello mushroom contains more potassium than a banana

A potassium-rich diet is linked to a host of health benefits from helping to lower blood pressure to supporting bone strength. While banana's tend to get all the glory as a top source of potassium, they aren't actually the best source of the vital mineral.
A 100g banana contains approximately 422mg of potassium compared to a large portabello mushroom, which contains 630mg of potassium. Not only is the mushroom packed with more potassium, it also contains fewer calories and less sugar than a banana. Talk about a win-win!
Incorporating portabello mushrooms into your diet can be a great way to increase your daily potassium intake. Image: Getty Images

3. They have special immune boosting powers

Mushrooms are a leading source of the antioxidant nutrient, selenium — a rarity in most other fruit and vegetables. Selenium plays a vital role in protecting the body's cells from damage and helps to boost the body's immune response to infection. Mushrooms are also packed with B-vitamins, including vitamin B6, which is vital in supporting the biochemical reaction in the immune system.
While a daily serving of mushrooms can help to boost your immune system, supplements can provide a more concentrated dose of mushroom power. Look for a supplement with reishi mushroom, one of the most powerful, immune boosting mushrooms on the planet!

4. They've been used for centuries in Chinese medicine

Thanks to their health-promoting effects including boosting immunity and fighting infection, traditional Chinese medicine has prescribed certain mushrooms — shiitake, maitake, reishi and turkey tail — for centuries. The most powerful of the lot: reishi mushroom.
Nicknamed the 'immortality elixr', the reishi was once reserved for Chinese royalty to extend life and improve health, but can now be found readily in health supplements (cheering).
Mushrooms have been praised for their potency and used extensively in Chinese medicine. Image: Getty Images

5. Mushrooms can help you manage stress levels (yes really)

A busy schedule loaded with full-time work, after-school activities and household chores naturally increases daily stress levels. While slowing down your lifestyle is often necessary, the balancing properties of reishi mushroom can help you be more resilient in the face of stress and overload.
That's right, reishi mushrooms are an adaptogen, which means they have medicinal properties that can work to restore your body's balance, reduce stress and lessen fatigue. It's not the type of mushroom you add to your favourite dinner recipe though. Instead, try brewing it into a tea or take it in supplement form so you can really get the most out of its stress relieving properties.

6. They're one of the easiest foods to prepare

Unlike other fruit and vegetables, mushrooms require little food preparation — you don't even have to wash them!
In order to prep your mushroom to eat, simply wipe with a dry cloth to remove any dirt. If you're feeling particularly keen, you can even purchase a special mushroom-cleaning brush to make sure no grit gets into your food. Then, chop them up and add to a risotto, soup or stir fry.
Mushrooms are as easy to prep as they are to cook! Simply sauté in olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and herbs when serving. Image: Getty Images

7. There is a wild mushroom that tastes like fried chicken

Yes, you read that correctly, there's a wild mushroom called laetiporus or 'chicken of the woods' that has the same flavour profile of fried chicken, making it a great meat substitute in almost any dish.
The rare fungi is most commonly found in Europe and North America, however there have been sightings of the mushroom on the east coast of Queensland. Due to their rarity, the mushroom isn't exactly accessible at the local supermarket, so you will have to hunt for them yourself!
Brought to you by Manuka Health