Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Mystery Behind Crimini Mushrooms>>

Coffee colored and richer in flavor and nutrients than the more common white button mushroom, crimini mushrooms are available throughout the year.

Mushrooms are as mysteriously unique as they are delicious. While often thought of as a vegetable and prepared like one, mushrooms are actually a fungus, a special type of living organism that has no roots, leaves, flowers or seeds. While mushroom can be cultivated, they can also be found growing wild in many regions of the world.
The range of traditional nutrients found in crimini mushrooms is impressive. Crimini mushrooms are an excellent source of selenium, riboflavin (vitamin B2), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), copper, niacin (vitamin B3), potassium and phosphorus. Selenium is needed for the proper function of the antioxidant system, which works to reduce the levels of damaging free radicals in the body. Selenium is a necessary cofactor of one of the body's most important internally produced antioxidants, glutathione peroxidase, and also works with vitamin E in numerous vital antioxidant systems throughout the body. These powerful antioxidant actions make selenium helpful not only against colon cancer by protecting colon cells from cancer-causing toxins, but in decreasing asthma and arthritis symptoms and in the prevention of heart disease. In addition, selenium is involved in DNA repair, yet another way in which adequate intake of this mineral is associated with a reduced risk for cancer. Five ounces of raw crimini mushrooms provide 52.6% of the daily value (DV) for selenium.

Zinc for Optimal Immune Function

As if the above health benefits were not enough, crimini mushrooms were also determined to be a very good source of zinc. Zinc affects many fundamental processes, perhaps the most important of which is immune function. If one mineral was singled out for its beneficial effects on the immune system, zinc would lead the pack. A cofactor in a wide variety of enzymatic reactions, zinc is critical not only to immune function, but to wound healing, and normal cell division. Zinc also helps stabilize blood sugar levels and the body's metabolic rate, is necessary for an optimal sense of smell and taste, has been shown to prevent the blood vessel damage that can occur in atherosclerosis, and may help to reduce the painful inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis. A strong immune system depends on adequate zinc levels, so the zinc in crimini mushrooms may also help to prevent illnesses such as recurrent colds and ear infections, and even some of the serious infections seen in patients with advanced or long-standing diabetes. Five ounces of crimini mushrooms provide 10.4% of the daily value for zinc.

More info can be found online and in the following references:

* Bobek P, Galbavy S, Ozdin L. Effect of oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) on pathological changes in dimethylhydrazine-induced rat colon cancer. Oncol Rep 1998 May-1998 Jun 30;5(3):727-30 1998. PMID:13940.
* Davis CD. Low dietary copper increases fecal free radical production, fecal water alkaline phosphatase activity and cytotoxicity in healthy men. J Nutr. 2003 Feb; 133(2):522-7 2003.
* Dubost N, Beelman R, Peterson D, Royse D. Identification and quantification of ergothioneine in cultivated mushrooms by Liquid Chromatography – Mass Spectroscopy. The 230th ACS National Meeting, Washington, D.C., Wednesday, August 31, 2005. 2005.
* Ensminger AH, Ensminger, ME, Kondale JE, Robson JRK. Foods & Nutriton Encyclopedia. Pegus Press, Clovis, California 1983.

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