Mushrooms and its Health Benefits

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Did you know that our kids need four to six servings of fruits and vegetables a day to grow healthy? This comes directly from the meal requirements and nutrition standards of most countries, including the Philippines. That seems like a lot to chew on, but it’s what our bodies need to keep healthy. At this point, a lot of moms would be saying, “How in the world do I get them to eat that much fruit and vegetables?!” While it feels like such an impossible task, our kids will benefit so much from it in the future. Through the foundation of good nutrition, they are more likely to live a healthier lifestyle, with reduced risks for chronic diseases.

But the truth remains that getting our kids to eat healthy seems to be a common and constant struggle! Whether they’re green, orange, yellow, or red, and no matter how cute fresh produce look—the reality is that most children do not meet their daily requirement of fruits and veggies. If moms had a peso for every time they see their child set aside a piece of vegetable on their plate, most moms would have a lot of extra money to spend!

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Mission Possible An informal survey among moms of picky eaters revealed interesting results. When asked which vegetable their children ate, mushrooms came up as a common answer. Most vegetables are either green, orange, yellow, or red. Mushrooms come in a neutral color, and are surprisingly delicious when properly prepared. Interestingly enough, mushrooms are neither fruit nor vegetables. But even though it does not come from the plant kingdom, it has more antioxidants and bioactive compounds than plants.

In fact, using mushrooms is a great way to add nutrition to “unhealthy” favorites like burgers, pizza, and sauce-heavy pasta. One mom even went so far as to tell her seven-year-old boy that mushrooms are fungus and they grow in the dark. Since her son liked mystery facts, he went ahead for a few bites and enjoyed the taste. One serving down, five to six more to go.

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An Excellent Source of Nutrition Have you heard of the term “nutrient-dense”? As it implies, it is a description of food that is a rich source of nutrition. Some foods may have lots of calories but maybe poor in nutrients (such as junk food). Meanwhile, food like fruits and vegetables are low in calories and bursting with healthy goodness.

Depending on the variety of mushrooms you are enjoying, a cup of mushrooms would only have anywhere from seven to 21 calories. It is a delicious, low-calorie food that has a lot of health benefits for those who enjoy them. Mushrooms contain a long list of valuable nutrients that you would be surprised to hear about.

Mushrooms are superfoods! Superfood is a popular term for food that brings a lot of whole goodness to our bodies. Experts say that mushrooms are excellent sources of antioxidants that help protect our bodies against disease.

Speaking of fighting disease, mushrooms are immune boosters! They contain an antioxidant called ergothioneine that helps stimulate our immune systems. In fact, one or two servings of mushrooms a day can effectively boost immune system function. Now, we can think of mushrooms as disease-fighting ninjas!

More mushroom applause, please. It turns out that mushrooms are a good source of potassium, with some varieties having over 300mg (or 10 percent) of our daily potassium needs. While it may not seem so important, our body needs potassium to keep our fluid and electrolyte balance in check.

With the prevalence of heart disease, it is comforting to know that mushrooms can keep our hearts healthy. Apart from maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle, you can bulk up on vegetables by chewing on heart-healthy mushrooms. A study from the University of Western Sydney showed that mushrooms lowered levels of bad cholesterol, raised good HDL cholesterol, and decreased blood glucose levels.

Mushrooms help us lose weight. Low in calories, big on taste, how can you go wrong with a plate of sautéed garlic mushrooms for lunch? It’s heavy on the stomach too, so you don’t feel deprived at all. For moms, that’s one big reason to add this superfood to daily meals.

The list can go on and on. But it is quite clear that mushrooms have extraordinary nutrition and can help protect our bodies against heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other life-threatening conditions.

Okay, so it looks like we’re sold on the thought of eating mushrooms. But what hits the jackpot is that mushrooms are readily available and so convenient to prepare. You can buy them fresh or canned, in most groceries. And if you are a mom-on-the-go, with no time to hit the palengke, then that makes a big difference.

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Mushroom Ideas Here are two dishes to get our selves, and our little tykes, started on good nutrition. The best thing about them is they’re so easy to make. Go ahead and use as much of each ingredient as your family would enjoy. Chicken and Mushroom Meatballs. Mix ground chicken breast, a cup of finely chopped mushrooms, breadcrumbs, an egg, salt, and pepper. You can even add pureed broccoli and carrot to the mix, and your kids won’t be able to tell. Shape your meatballs to your preferred size and then bake.

Mushroom Soup. Boil some chicken and onions and make chicken stock. Let your stock simmer until it becomes flavorful; feel free to add your favorite herbs and spices. You can also put a little flour to make the stock thicker. Use a blender or a food processer to finely chop your mushrooms and then slowly add them into the chicken stock. The result is a thick, creamy dish that your child can enjoy.

As simple as mushrooms sound, they really do bring complex benefits to our bodies. More importantly, they taste delicious! So let’s not delay. Whip out a can of mushrooms to help reach our recommended consumption of nutrients a day.

Mushroom image courtesy of KEKO64 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net. Chicken and vegetables image courtesy of KEKO64 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net. Spaghetti with mushroom image courtesy of rakratchada torsap at FreeDigitalPhotos.net. Risotto image courtesy of tiramisustudio at FreeDigitalPhotos.net