Updated: 2021, May 26

The Magical Nutrition of Cooked Mushrooms You Should Know

Remember those ‘magical mushrooms’, long depicted in fairy tales, cartoons, and movies such as Alice in Wonderland? Those same fungi, when eaten, can bring on a temporary, hallucinating hyperconsciousness in some people. Can you offer an explanation as to why filmmakers used those alluring and intriguing mushrooms in their stories? Were they trying to subliminally persuade youth to venture into sampling them, or was there another ulterior or unrealized motive?

The Magical Nutrition of Cooked Mushrooms You Should Know

Mushrooms have been part of our lives since they were cultivated approximately 4600 years ago by the Egyptians. They were considered to be ‘food for the royalty’ where no commoner was allowed touch them, insuring their supply provided only for them.1 According to the website My Champi, dedicated to home mushroom cultivation, a melon grower in Paris found the surprise in the year 1650 in his fertilizer.

It did not appear in the United States until 1941 when mushrooms made their official appearance as part of the American plate when the American Mushroom Institute .2 Today we know mushrooms provide unique and valuable nutrient properties. They are usually referred to as a vegetable, but mushrooms actually do not belong to the animal nor plant family. They belong to the fungi kingdom.

Magic In Our Food?

Mushrooms Boxes

Our bodies crave high nutrient food for an optimal living, but most of us don’t recognize how important these foods are to our health, let alone how our bodies react when we don’t consume them. The U.S. Food Intake Survey provided studies in 2014 that suggests the impacts of certain foods, like mushrooms, “may support healthy immune and inflammatory responses through interactions with the gut microbiota, enhancing the development of adaptive immunity, and improved immune cell functionality.”3 What does that mean to you and me? It means there are certain foods that help our digestive system, our immune strength, and our cells to function the way they are supposed to.

When we eat mushrooms, we are actually eating the fruit of the fungus. The flavor and nutrient quality of each type depends on the growing conditions and locations. Some grow on logs, at the base of trees, in dead stumps, and in the decomposing matter.

Also affecting the nutrient value is the exposures to it’s environment as the mushroom absorbs not only what is in the ground, but what’s in the air. These growing conditions provide different nutrients. For instance, the Button mushrooms are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, and the Crimini for it’s high immune system benefits as well as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is a fatty acid that binds onto specific enzymes and lessens the production of estrogen. 4 Perhaps the mushroom’s ability to block this enzyme may help to lower breast cancer & tumor risks and even help block estrogen production in men with low testosterone levels or who are participating in testosterone treatments?

There is an abundance of research proving the importance of increasing our phytonutrient consumption. Dr. Josh Axe, founder of Food is Medicine, states that “over 20 mushroom species are used in traditional Chinese medicine practices, and 25% of these are found to effectively fight harmful tumors.”5 There are hundreds of additional studies that prove that through our nutrition lies a large part of our health.

Mushroom Info

Which Mushrooms Are Best For Nutrition?

There are many varieties edible mushrooms: White, Crimini, Portobello, Porcini, Shiitake, Maitake, Oyster, Chanterelles, and Reishi. Although Reishi’s have been shown to reduce cancer tumors, arthritis, and adrenal fatigue. Dr. Axe claims they are most commonly found in their powdered, capsular forms for specific therapeutic treatments.

Some experts claim the Crimini mushroom performs better than others for nutrient-value because of what it does for the immune system. According to the Journal of Nutrition,6 the Crimini have multiple nutritional benefits:

  • Extracts from Crimini Mushrooms show protection against cardiovascular disease because of their binding properties of certain immune cells onto the lining of the aorta. When the binding is reduced, it lowers the risk of damage to the aorta and blood flow problem risks.
  • The unique fatty acid, CLA (conjugated linolenic acid), binds to a special enzyme that reduces estrogen production, which might prevent breast cancer tumors from growing.
  • Vitamin B12 is present in these mushrooms because of the healthy bacteria growing on top. Since it’s a part of the mushroom and not dependent on consuming the vitamin for absorption, like animals, it could be a valuable alternative.

Choosing And Storing Mushrooms

Crimini mushrooms have many names: Baby Bella, Roman, Italian, Brown and Classic Brown. Here are some guidelines for choosing and storing mushrooms:


*All individuals are unique. Your results can and will vary.

  • Look for firm, plump, clean and brown in color.
  • Avoid wrinkles, slimy spots, or gills that can be seen and the covering that joins the edge of the cap and the stem is intact.
  • You can rinse them and dry completely, or just wipe with a damp paper towel, clean cloth, or mushroom brush.
  • Store in the refrigerator layered in between a damp cloth or paper towel, in a closed paper bag, or layered in a glass dish with air circulating around, meaning, don’t clump the magic!
  • Mushrooms can last from 3-7 days. If packaged from the grocery store, remove from original packaging and follow storage directions mentioned.
Storing Mushrooms

Eating Mushrooms

According to the Word’s Most Healthiest Foods, it is important not to cook this magic food too long. Sauteéing, quick-steaming, or quick-boiling Crimini’s for only 7 minutes is recommended. The longer they cook, the more they will wilt and acquire a mushy texture.

7 Minute Crimini Mushroom Recipe (modified)

1 lb of medium Crimini mushrooms, sliced
5 TBS low-sodium, organic broth (chicken or vegetable) or water
1 tsp Mediterranean Dressing (following this recipe)

2 TBS fresh rosemary
few drops of organic Coconut Aminos (substitute for soy sauce)

Place minced garlic and broth or water in a saucepan. Heat on medium low till steam starts to rise. Add mushrooms and cover for 3 minutes. Remove lid and constantly stir for the remaining 4 minutes. Mushrooms should be golden brown but not burned. Remove from heat. Transfer to a bowl and toss in the Mediterranean Dressing.

Mushrooms Recipe

Recipes and values taken from the World’s Healthiest Foods 7

I encourage you to consider adding these nutrient powerhouses as a part of your regular diet as they will not disappoint with their unique flavor and dietary boost.

Image Credits
Featured Image: Shutterstock
In-Post Images: Shutterstock.com & pinterest.com

[1] History and Background, (n.d.), The Mushroom Story, Retrieved from http://www.mushroominfo.com/history-and-background/
[2] History of the Mushroom, (n.d.), My Champi, Retrieved from http://www.mychampi.com/en/mushrooms/history
[3] Mushrooms and Health Summit Proceedings. (2014, May 8). The Journal of Nutrition, 144(7),1128s. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4056650
[4] What's New and Beneficial About Crimini Mushrooms, (n.d.) World's Healthiest Foods, Retrieved from http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=97
[5] Axe, Dr. Josh, Mushroom Nutrition Benefits: Cancer Fighters and Cell Renewers, (n.d.) Dr. Axe Food Is Medicine, Retrieved from https://draxe.com/mushroom-nutrition-benefits/
[6] Mushrooms and Health Summit Proceedings. (2014, May 8). The Journal of Nutrition, 144(7),1128s. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4056650
[7] What's New and Beneficial About Crimini Mushrooms, (n.d.) World's Healthiest Foods, Retrieved from http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=97
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Christine Foltz

Christine Foltz is a native of South Florida, a Fitness Expert, certified Integrative Health Coach, modified sports concierge, and mot

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