Georgofili World

Newsletter of the Georgofili Academy

Knowing mushrooms

Culinary mushrooms, mostly members of the Basidiomycetes class of macrofungi, are rich in high quality protein, polysaccharides, vitamins and minerals (potassium, calcium, and magnesium), fibre and other bioactive compounds, but low in fat and sodium. 
In brief some culinary/edible mushrooms  may be considered “functional foods”, a term reported by Martirosyan (2011) recognizing “a natural or processed food that contains known biologically-active compounds which in defined quantitative and qualitative amounts provides a clinically proven and documented health benefit, and thus, an important source in the prevention, management and treatment of chronic diseases of the modern age”
For example, their hypocholesterolemic result has been attributed to the inhibition effect on cholesterol biosynthesis and adsorption and the stimulatory  effect on faecal excretion. In addition, the dietary fiber of the mushrooms reinforces their suitability as hypolipidaemic agents. They possess natural free radical scavengers of various types including polysaccharides such as beta-D-glucan, polyphenols like phenolic acids and flavonoids, vitamins (e.g., tocopherol, ascorbic acid, and niacin), ergosterol, and carotenoids.  Recently, numerous laboratory experiments and animal trials have confirmed also the anti-hypertensive properties of various mushroom species extracts (Yahaya et al. 2014). Among Pleurotus species (oyster mushroom is a common edible mushroom)  which  are important both in tropical and temperate countries, the mostly noted species having antihypertensive effects include Pholiota ostreatus, Pleurotus cornucopiae, Pholiota nebrodensis and Pholiota cystidiosus  Their effectiveness of hypertension control has been attributed to angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitory action. Sum up mushrooms may be considered  as “functional-medicinal foods”.

Anna Lante - anna.lante@unipd.it


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