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5 Interesting Facts about Mushrooms

Update Date: Oct 13, 2014 10:19 AM EDT

It is the start of mushroom season! Supermarkets will be stocked with different types of fresh mushrooms, each with a unique flavor. Not only can mushrooms improve the flavor profile of dish, they are also very healthy. Here are five interesting facts about mushrooms:

1. Umami flavor

Mushrooms have the unique flavor known as umami, which is Japanese for "pleasant savory flavor." According to the Umami Information Council, mushrooms have that special taste that resembles a broth-like or meaty flavor. When cooking with mushrooms, you do not need as many seasonings. Many experts have reported that when using mushrooms, you do not need to add that much salt, which can reduce your sodium intake.

2. Vitamin D

Mushrooms are one of the few plant sources that have vitamin D, which is essential for bone health. Vitamin D is most easily sourced from direct sunlight. Mushrooms that have been placed under direct sunlight have higher levels of vitamin D. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that one-cup of diced, uncooked portabella mushrooms has nine international units (IU) of vitamin D. If you put that cup of mushrooms under ultraviolet (UV) light, the level of vitamin D increases to 313 IU.

3. B Vitamins

Mushrooms are also rich in B vitamins: riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid. These B vitamins are essential for the nervous system. Riboflavin helps with the production of red blood cells wile niacin can boost your digestive system and skin health. Pantothenic acid is vital for growth.

4. Weight management

Mushrooms can help with weight management because they are low in calories but are packed with nutrients. A study published in the journal, Appetite, found that obese participants who replaced red meat with mushrooms were able to lose more weight and reduce their body mass index (BMI), a measurement of obesity. Since many people will not voluntarily replace red meat completely, swapping red meat for mushrooms occasionally can help control weight.

5. Regulate cholesterol

Mushrooms can help control your cholesterol levels as well. High cholesterol is a dangerous health condition because it increases your risk of cardiovascular events. The beta-glucan in mushrooms, which is a type of fiber, can help reduce your cholesterol levels.

In order to reap the benefits of mushrooms, try eating them multiple times a week.

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