Mushrooms are fungi which lack chlorophyll and cannot manufacture their own food in presence of sunlight like green plants. The edible species are commonly called “Mushroom” while those which are poisonous are called “Toad stools”. Mushroom occurs under various ecological conditions from desert to forests.
Nutritional and Medicinal Importance:
* Mushrooms are good source of high quality protein and contain 20% to 30% of protein, which is higher than vegetables and fruits.
* They have a high percentage of all 9 essential amino acids and rich in Lysine and Tryptophan, the two essential amino acids deficient in cereals.
* Mushrooms are almost free from fat and are richer than most of the vegetables in water soluble vitamins (B1, B2, niacin, B12, pantothenic acid and vitamin C).
* They are good source of minerals. The minerals like Calcium and Phosphorous are present in remarkably higher percentage in mushroom when compared to vegetables and fruits.
* Potassium/sodium ratio is higher in mushroom which is desired foe patients of hypertension.
* Most of the Mushrooms have low starch content and can form an ideal food for diabetic patient.
* They are low in calories with traces of PF sugar and no cholesterol.
* They have good medicinal properties like antibiotic activities, anticancer, hypolipidimic, hypocholestermic and anti-hypertension effect.
Hence, among the many sources of food particularly rich in protein, mushroom stands out as a good choice. In a country like India where vegetables dominates, every attempt should be made to popularize production and consumption of mushroom.
Deepika Kr. Umesh is a Ph.D. scholar at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi. She hails from Nalanda district in Bihar.