Tue. Mar 5th, 2024

By Jaime Yarbrough – Science Reporter- February 22, 2023

Upon discovering the world of fungi in 2009 and dreams of starting a mushroom farm, before the reality of having a business came crashing down, I looked at as many aspects of mushrooms as possible. In the beginning, prior to my realization that returning “home” from the SF Bay Area, I was returning to one of the better places to find /forage and grow mushrooms. 

There were two major hurdles, to this day I had to overcome. The largest was having a market large enough to make cultivation profitable at scale. And the other was ‘myco-phobia.’ In the beginning I knew mushrooms could be bought in stores, the produce section, in cans or jars, and often came on pizza’s. As my knowledge mushroomed (pun), I noticed not everyone had an educated pallet and couldn’t tell a chanterelle from a white button mushroom. The public at that time, and even today, are quite leery of something that can have serious consequences if you don’t know your fungi.

As I investigated further I learned of the nutritional benefits of mushrooms and over the years have discovered the whole world has discovered the rich and subtle flavors and substantial health benefits of consuming mushrooms.  And then there is what to do with them one they are found or bought.  The mushrooms in the produce section are “raw” and often used in salads but can be cooked either as a side dish or as a compliment to other dishes such as omelets or rice pilaf.

As I began to forage for the known/recognized edible mushrooms I continued to find mushroom cookbooks and more information about how they can be cooked. That was when I learned ALL mushrooms MUST be cooked to get the full benefits from them.

According to Dr. Andrew Weil M.D.(1) and Paul Stamets of Fungi Perfecti / Host Defense (2) :

Raw mushrooms are largely indigestible because of their tough cell walls, mainly composed of chitin.

Dr. Andrew Weil advises, in agreement with other experts, that mushrooms must be cooked! Mushrooms have very tough cell walls and are essentially indigestible if you don’t cook them. Thoroughly heating them releases the nutrients they contain, including protein, B vitamins, and minerals, as well as a wide range of novel compounds not found in other foods,” (Prevention, Feb 1, 2013).

Mushrooms are a rich, low calorie source of fiber, protein, and antioxidants. They may also mitigate the risk of developing serious health conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

They’re also great sources of:

Potassium

Vitamin D

Selenium

Copper

Thiamin

Magnesium

Phosphorous

Zinc (immune system)

(https://www.webmd.com – – see below)

If you look at the label on packaged mushrooms the * minimum daily requirement list will be practically 0% all the way down – but “a silver bullet” mushrooms are not. They supplement many of the vitamins and minerals and add to a healthy balanced diet. The are and still have many secrets to discover.

One of the special components found from mushrooms are beta-glucans, which is predominantly composed in the fungal cell wall and is mostly composed of beta-D-glucose. In many researches, beta-glucan effectively stimulates the host immune response to defend against bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic infections [1] (3)

Beta-glucans are a subset of a larger group of components called polysaccharides. One of the strongest and most well-known components of these mushrooms is their polysaccharide content. In fact, mushroom polysaccharides are one of the powerful bioactive substances that have prompted health and wellness experts to focus on mushrooms as a nutraceutical—a food that has medicinal benefits. https://ommushrooms.com (4)

I encourage you to investigate each of the references cited above and listed below for more information about the treasures to be found in mushrooms.

WebMD:

https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-mushrooms#:~:text=Mushrooms%20are%20a%20rich%2C%20low,Selenium
  • Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D.
https://www.drweil.com
  • Paul Stamets, Fungi Perfecti; Host Defense
https://wwwFungi.com
https://hostdefense.com/blogs/host-defense-blog/raw-mushrooms#:~:text=No%2C%20absolutely%20not!,that%20mushrooms%20must%20be%20cooked!
  • NIH.gov
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3995106/#:~:text=One%20of%20the%20special%20components,or%20parasitic%20infections%20%5B1%5D.
  • OMMUSHROOMS.com
https://ommushrooms.com/blogs/blog/mushroom-polysaccharide-m2

Jaime Yarbrough is the leader of the Del Norte Mushroom Club

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