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All about “Mushroom”, the low-calorie vegetable

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The fungus of the species Agaricus bisporus is the most cultivated among all the edible varieties. Despite its high water content, the mushroom has a nutritional value comparable to that of many other vegetables. It also contains certain compounds potentially beneficial for health, but whose effects have been the subject of few scientific studies.

Characteristics of the fungus:

  • Low in calorie intake;
  • Rich in water;
  • Source of fiber
  • Rich in group B vitamins;
  • Source of phosphorus and potassium.

What is the mushroom?

Mushroom identity card:

  • Type: Vegetable;
  • Family: Fungi;
  • Origin: South Asia;
  • Season: September to June;
  • Color: Light beige to black;
  • Flavor: Subtle.

Characteristics of the fungus:

When harvested, the fungus is made up of a stalk attached to the ground and a hat.

Word from the nutritionist

To make the most of the mushroom’s benefits, you can eat it raw for certain varieties. A portion of mushroom represents 150 to 200g of mushrooms.

Nutritional values

For 100g of raw mushroom:

Nutrients                                                             Quantities                                                               
Protein 2.62 g
Fat 0.36 g
Carbohydrates 1.33 g
Water 93.9g
Fibers 1 g
Vitamin B2 0.29 mg
Vitamin B3 5 mg
Vitamin B5 1.57 mg
Potassium 364 mg
Phosphorus 96.6 mg
Selenium 6.47 µg


15 benefits of the mushroom: why eat it?

  1. Mushrooms contain different carbohydrates that demonstrate specific health effects. The high water concentration of the mushrooms, however, has the effect of diluting the content of these compounds. Analysis of the carbohydrate content of mushrooms on a dry matter basis (in dehydrated form) indicates that they contain a large proportion of dietary fiber, mainly in the form of insoluble fiber. These play an important role in bowel regularity and the prevention of constipation. They increase the volume and weight of the stool by retaining water in the colon, which reduces transit time and facilitates evacuation.
  2. Mushrooms also contain resistant starch, a type of sugar that, like dietary fiber, resists the action of digestive enzymes and makes its way into the colon. Under the action of the intestinal flora (bacteria present in the intestine), the starch then undergoes fermentation. This processed starch serves as food for colonic bacteria and thus helps maintain good intestinal health.
  3. The portobello mushroom is one of the few varieties of mushrooms containing oligosaccharides. The latter are however present in small quantities and do not contribute significantly to the intake of oligosaccharides from the diet. Oligosaccharides are substances that can ferment in the large intestine (colon) and contribute to its health. It should be noted that no study has yet evaluated in humans the specific effect of carbohydrates from the fungus.
  4. According to the results of an in vitro study, certain compounds in the fungus could decrease the activity of an enzyme involved in the development of breast cancer.
  5. The cremini mushroom is an excellent source of copper while white, portobello and canned mushrooms are good sources. As a constituent of several enzymes, copper is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin and collagen (protein used for the structure and repair of tissues) in the body. Several copper-containing enzymes also help the body’s defense against free radicals.
  6. The cremini mushroom is a good source of selenium, while white, canned and portobello mushrooms are sources. This mineral works with one of the main antioxidant enzymes, thus preventing the formation of free radicals in the body. It also helps to convert thyroid hormones to their active form.
  7. White mushrooms, cremini and portobello are good sources of vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin. Like vitamin B1, vitamin B2 plays a role in the energy metabolism of all cells. In addition, it contributes to tissue growth and repair, hormone production and the formation of red blood cells.
  8. The portobello mushroom is a good source of vitamin B3 for women and a source for men, while white, cremini and canned mushrooms are sources. Also called niacin, vitamin B3 participates in many metabolic reactions and contributes particularly to the production of energy from the carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and alcohol that we ingest. It also collaborates in the DNA formation process, allowing normal growth and development.
  9. White mushrooms, cremini and portobello are good sources of pantothenic acid, while canned mushrooms are a source. Also called vitamin B5, pantothenic acid is part of a key coenzyme that allows us to adequately use the energy of the food we eat. It also participates in several stages of the synthesis (manufacture) of steroid hormones, neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses) and hemoglobin.
  10. The white fungus is a good source of vitamin D. Vitamin D works closely with the health of bones and teeth, by making available calcium and phosphorus in the blood, among other things for the growth of bone structure. It also plays a role in the maturation of cells, including those of the immune system.
  11. White mushrooms, cremini, portobello and canned are sources of phosphorus. Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the body after calcium. It plays an essential role in the formation and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. In addition, it participates among other things in the growth and regeneration of tissues and helps to maintain normal blood pH. Finally, phosphorus is one of the constituents of cell membranes.
  12. The portobello mushroom is a source of potassium. In the body, potassium is used to balance the pH of the blood and to stimulate the production of hydrochloric acid by the stomach, thus promoting digestion. In addition, it facilitates the contraction of muscles, including the heart and participates in the transmission of nerve impulses.
  13. Canned mushrooms are a source of iron for men, their needs for this mineral being different from those for women. Each body cell contains iron. This mineral is essential for the transport of oxygen and the formation of red blood cells in the blood. It also plays a role in the production of new cells, hormones and neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses). It should be noted that the iron contained in foods of plant origin (such as the fungus) is less absorbed by the body than the iron from foods of animal origin. However, the absorption of iron from plants is favored when it is consumed with certain nutrients, such as vitamin C.
  14. Cremini, portobello and canned mushrooms are sources of zinc. Zinc is involved in particular in immune reactions, in the production of genetic material, in the perception of taste, in the healing of wounds and in the development of the fetus. It also interacts with sex and thyroid hormones. In the pancreas, it participates in the synthesis (production), the storage and the release of insulin.
  15. Canned mushrooms are sources of vitamin B1. Also called thiamine, vitamin B1 is part of a coenzyme necessary for the production of energy mainly from the carbohydrates that we eat. It also participates in the transmission of nerve impulses and promotes normal growth.

Choosing the right mushroom

Choose mushrooms of uniform color, smooth, without spots or wounds or softened parts. Avoid mushrooms with brown strips, a sign of advanced maturity, except in the case of portobellos. The hat should be firm and securely attached to the foot.

The different varieties

There are a multitude of varieties of mushrooms that are differentiated by their origin, flavor, color and shape. Among the best known are the button mushroom, oyster mushrooms, chanterelles, death trumpets, portobello or even shiitakes.

Keep well

In the refrigerator: at most one week in their original container or, if purchased in bulk, in a paper bag. Avoid plastic bags which will accelerate their deterioration. As mushrooms absorb odors easily, keep them away from highly odorous foods.

In the freezer: clean them, place them on a plate or tray and freeze them before enclosing them in a freezer bag. Or cook them dry or in oil before putting them in the freezer.

In the dehydrator: slice them finely, spread them on a wire rack and put them to dry for 8 to 12 hours in the dehydrator or in an oven set to low temperature.

Preparation of the mushroom

How to cook it? How to match it?

Brush the mushroom with a brush, wipe it with a damp cloth or pass it quickly with clear water. Avoid soaking it or it will absorb too much water. Remove the earthy part of the foot with a knife, or the whole foot if it is dry and fibrous. It can be used in broths and sauces.

  • Raw: Moisten the slices of raw mushrooms with lemon juice to prevent them from turning black.
  • Cooked white: cook for five to ten minutes, covered, in a little water with salt, butter and lemon juice. The mushrooms will thus keep their light color.
  • Stir fry: heat oil at high temperature until it almost reaches the smoke point. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown and the water they have released has evaporated. Towards the end of cooking, which should last approximately five minutes, add, if desired, chopped garlic and parsley.
  • Grilled: coat the mushrooms with a little vegetable oil or a marinade, salt, pepper and put under the grill (10 cm or 15 cm from the element) and cook them four to six minutes on each side, brushing them with oil or marinade once or twice during cooking.
  • Roasts: preheat the oven to 230 ° C. Put the mushrooms in a gratin dish, coat them with oil or marinade and cook them for about 20 minutes, stirring them a few times.
  • Braised: brown the mushrooms, cut into pieces of uniform size, in a little oil or butter, salt and pepper. Add cream, chicken broth or other aromatic liquid, cover and simmer until tender. Keep warm, reduce the liquid and cover with the mushrooms.
  • Stuffed: use the large mushroom caps for this preparation. Remove the feet, finely chop them and brown them in butter. Add breadcrumbs, almonds, pecans or other chopped oilseeds, chives, basil or tarragon, and bind with cream or broth. Season with salt and paprika. Coat the caps with olive oil, fill them with stuffing and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Grill five minutes and serve. Or stuff them with an oyster or a clam that will be covered with a little grated horseradish, mayonnaise and a few drops of Worcestershire sauce. Or put the feet in the blender with garlic, parsley, a little cream and goat cheese. Stuff the caps with the preparation and cook under the grill.
  • With the dressing: sauté chopped garlic in olive oil, add the sliced ​​mushrooms and cook, stirring constantly. Add a few tablespoons of wine vinegar and white wine, cook for a minute or two, salt and pepper. Serve hot or cold.
  • In mushroom duxelle: this preparation can enter into the composition of sauces and stuffings or serve in the cooking of meats and fish. It can be used in all dishes to which we want to give a mushroom flavor. Finely chop an onion or shallots and brown in a mixture of butter and olive oil. Cut mushrooms and press them into a muslin or cheesecloth to extract the juice. Add them to the onion (or shallots), season with freshly ground nutmeg, salt and pepper, and cook until all the liquid has evaporated. Let cool and store in the fridge in an airtight container.

Versatile, they can be used in many other preparations:

  • In farces, omelets, flans and quiches. In sauces to accompany meats or fish.
  • In a sandwich, with peppers, eggplant and onions. Grill mushrooms and vegetables separately. For this use, use the portobello hats, whose texture is reminiscent of that of meat.
  • In a salad: first marinate them overnight in a vinaigrette with pieces of cauliflower, sliced ​​carrots and sliced ​​green onions. If desired, add a few pieces of nuts before serving.
  • In soups, with milk, yogurt or cream. To obtain a creamy texture, finely grind the dried mushrooms before incorporating them into the preparation.
  • In this barley soup that the Jews serve during the feast of Hannukah. Brown onion and celery in oil with fresh mushrooms and dried mushrooms that have been previously soaked. After ten minutes, add pearl barley, tomatoes and chicken, beef or vegetable broth. Simmer 45 minutes or until barley is tender. Add chopped parsley and dill, salt, pepper and serve.

Side effects

Fresh mushrooms may contain a bacteria leading to the development of toxins responsible for botulism in the event of poor storage conditions. The consumption of a deteriorated product can thus lead to serious food poisoning without the appearance, smell or taste of the mushrooms being changed. It is therefore important to ensure that the fresh mushrooms are wrapped with a perforated plastic film, to allow air circulation, and that they are refrigerated.

When mushrooms are packed in hermetically sealed containers (e.g. vacuum sealed packages) without sterilization, they should be kept refrigerated below 4 ° C and an expiration date should be recorded and observed.

History of the mushroom

The term “champignon”, which appeared in the French language in 1398, is an alteration of the old French champegnuel, borrowed from the popular Latin campagniolus, which means “champignon des champs”.
The expression “Paris mushroom” comes from the first commercial crops which were grown in disused quarries in the Paris region.

The term “agaric” comes from the Greek agarikon, which means “edible mushroom”.

The term “cremini” is the Italian name for the coffee-colored mushroom, while the term “portobello” designates the same mushroom having reached a more advanced stage of maturity. This last word is a pure linguistic invention created in the 1980s with the aim of boosting sales of a product which, until then, was considered inedible and simply eliminated from the production chain.

Out of the million or more known species of fungus, several hundred are consumed by humans worldwide. It is believed that the fungus has been part of the diet since the appearance of humanity on the planet. It would have been one of the first foods to be consumed. The Greeks and Romans of Antiquity were fond of it. In the fifth century BC, the Greek doctor Hippocrates wrote the first documents relating to their use in cooking and medicine, while in the first century Pliny the Elder presented a first classification of edible and poisonous species known at the time. .

At the expense of others

The mushroom is not part of the plant kingdom, but that of the Fungi. It is unable to produce chlorophyll, and must therefore survive by “borrowing” its nutrients from decaying substances from other living organisms.

It is believed that the Greeks were the first to cultivate mushrooms which, until then, were harvested in the wild. In China, the first “farms” date from the 7th century. However, in the West, it was not until the end of the 17th century that commercial cultivation of the diaper mushroom was started in abandoned quarries in the Paris region. Lending itself relatively well to artificial culture and rapid growth, it will spread quickly in Europe and in the rest of the world. Even today, it is the most cultivated species on the planet. However, due to consumers’ growing interest in diversity and thanks to a better mastery of production techniques, new cultivated varieties are appearing on the market. There are also more and more truffles,

For further

Organic gardening

Culture kits of various species of fungi can be found commercially. They usually include any substrate, spores and information on the culture method suitable for the species offered. However, apart from the pleasure that the discovery of a new technique can bring, the experiment is hardly profitable in the long term. If, in principle, you can get several crops from the same kit, in fact, the results are rarely up to the promises made by the merchants, because the growing conditions (darkness, humidity, temperature , sterility of the environment) mushrooms are rarely collected in private cellars.

Ecology and environment

Not only is the cultivated mushroom the most cultivated species on the planet, but the whole of world production rests on a handful of European strains with, as a consequence, that they are established in all the countries where they are produced, very often at the expense of local strains. To counter the risk of biodiversity loss, the Agaricus Resource Program, a non-profit organization created in 1988 by an American scientist, has set itself the task of listing and studying the wild strains of this species and species close in order to multiply them.

For the same reasons, other organizations, including the ZERI foundation (Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives), affiliated to the United Nations, are committed to preserving ancestral knowledge relating to the hundreds of other edible species. They are also seeking to create new production techniques, particularly in the tropical countries of Africa and Latin America, where the climate is hardly suitable for A. bisporus and where the costs of production of this species are therefore high. .

Finally, due to deforestation and the destruction of many of their natural habitats, many wild species are threatened with extinction. However, in the opinion of many experts, mushrooms currently constitute one of the most promising segments, not only of the agrifood sector, but of medicine, which is just beginning to measure their therapeutic potential.

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