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All you need to know about mushrooms ... and something else

03 November 2012 / 14:11:00  GRReporter
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Mushrooms are so versatile that the analysis of their nutritional value is difficult. They are grown in soft moist soil, and most of them come out in the autumn because of the rains and humidity.

What we see in practice is the "colour" of the mushroom, its body, i.e. the body on which the spores will develop to ensure reproduction of the species. The main part of the mushroom is underground and it is invisible in the greater part of the year. 10% of the dry matter of mushrooms consists of carbohydrates and proteins. Mushroom proteins, due to their content of all the essential amino acids, are of very high quality, much better than vegetable proteins, approaching animal proteins in quality.

There are about 3,000 species of mushrooms in Greece, each with a unique shape and a slight earthy taste. Most are white and large, such as the Portobello, for example. Despite their appearance and size, they are not vegetables and contain no chlorophyll, therefore they live as parasites near other plants or trees.

Usually one either loves or hates mushrooms. If you are of the first type, you'll be pleased to know that you can eat them at every meal - from your morning omelette to the sauce for the chicken fillets for dinner. If you are of the second category, you might learn something about their benefits.

Mushrooms are of great nutritional value, containing many essential vitamins and metals, they are low in saturated fats and sodium. They are of low caloric value as well.

Vitamin D: strengthens the bones and gives you all the benefits of the vegetables. Mushrooms are the only food of non-animal origin containing vitamin D (besides the sun).

Vitamins of group Β (biotin, niacin, riboflavin): needed for metabolism and blood cells.

Selenium: the small amounts of it in mushrooms are a good way to obtain this antioxidant which is a necessary ingredient of various enzymes and is important for the functioning of the thyroid gland.

Anti-carcinogenic properties: according to research (especially of breast cancer) mushrooms have anti-cancer properties and help strengthen the immune system.

How to enjoy them

Mushrooms are delicious cubed or sliced in salads or as an ingredient in sauces for meat. You can add them to scrambled eggs or sandwiches and pizza. Their nutritional value can be destroyed or diminished if you cook them for too long, so you should only sauté them briefly. Use vegetable broth instead of fat and try them with garlic or onions.

Another interesting thing ...

- Many species of mushrooms are poisonous and some are even deadly, so you should be especially careful when picking them. In many cases poisonous species resemble edible ones or edible species change their appearance upon ripening, which can confuse you.

- The mushrooms, which we remember as the houses of the Smurfs - with red caps and white dots, are of the type fly-agaric - amanita muscaria, a wild mushroom with hallucinogenic effects, to which our ancestors attributed magical powers. They are common in the mountain forests and are poisonous.

- The secret of dried mushrooms is the water which gives them a fresh look. Soak them in lukewarm water or wine, if the recipe requires it, for 20-25 minutes and save the water to use for soups, sauces or pasta.

- Truffles are a relatively rare type of underground mushroom which grow in the soil at a depth of 6-25 cm. They have a superb aroma and the taste they give to dishes in which they are used is great. The strong demand for truffles, combined with the small amounts on the market, dramatically increases their market value.

Tags: mushrooms truffles vitamins antioxidants
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