Edible Mushrooms as Functional Foods | Mushroom Blog | Biobritte

Edible mushrooms have become attractive as functional food and pharmaceutical products because of their safety and availability; and are, moreover, an inexpensive and natural food.

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Mushrooms are fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus, typically produced above ground on soil or on its food source.

Mushrooms were included in diet by Greeks and Romans since ancient times. Romans regarded them as food of God while Chinese termed them as elixir of life.

Mushrooms have become attractive as a functional food and as a source for the development of drugs and nutraceuticals responsible with their antioxidant, antitumor and antimicrobial properties. Besides their pharmacological features, mushrooms are becoming more important in our diet due to their nutritional value, related to high protein and low fat / energy contents.

Numerous species of mushrooms exist in nature; however, only a few are used as edibles. 

Many Asian countries use traditionally wild edible mushrooms as delicious and nutritional foods and medicine  Consumers are now deeply interested in food bioactives that provide beneficial effects to humans in terms of health promotion and disease risk reduction. 

Detailed information about food bioactives is required in order to obtain appropriate functional food products. 

Therefore US, European Union and Asian countries like Japan, South Korea etc have drafted and revised various regulatory guidelines on functional foods and their health claims. 

Edible mushrooms have been widely utilized as human foods for centuries and have been appreciated for texture and flavor as well as some medicinal and tonic attributes.

The mushroom protein contains all the nine essential amino acids required by humans. 

In addition to their good protein content, mushrooms are a relatively good source of the nutrients like phosphorus, iron and vitamins, including thiamine, riboflavin, ascorbic acid, ergosterol, and niacin. 

Mushrooms are not only sources of nutrients but also have been reported as therapeutic foods, useful in preventing diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia and cancer. 

These functional characteristics are mainly due to the presence of dietary fibre and in particular chitin and beta glucans. 

Studies concluded that certain mushrooms species have antitumor, antiviral, antithrombotic and  immunomodulating properties. 

Research has shown that some mushrooms may have potential to lower elevated blood sugar levels. But the explanation for this effect is limited, with the exception of some mushrooms.

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