Learn about the magic of mushrooms and the benefits they have and provide for health

To learn to know the mushrooms is to enter a strange world, full of mysteries and legends; a unique universe, both for its diversity and for its immense complexity, where the most sought after gastronomic pleasures are combined with magic and deadly poisons. Mushrooms, true reflections of the human soul, are foods out of the ordinary, capable of the best, reaching heights of subtlety and finesse, and of the worst, causing serious, even irreparable, health problems. But beyond their mythical and magical character, mushrooms are, above all, inseparable foods in the history of human nutrition, both for their exceptional taste and for their positive impact on health.

Vegetables that don’t work like the others!

Mushrooms are very special vegetables from a biological point of view. In effect, they are not plants, because they have neither leaves nor roots and are devoid of chlorophyll, which makes them unable to use sunlight to make the essential food for their survival. Mushrooms are therefore limited to taking the nutritive elements from their environment, thanks to an underground network of thin filaments, the mycelium.

What we call a mushroom is, in reality, only the tiny visible part of this vast network of filaments (11 cm3 of fertile soil can contain up to 100 m of mycelium!) And it is only used for its reproduction. This “organ of reproduction”, called carpophorus (from the Greek karpos, fruit, and phora, carry), contains the genetic material of the mushroom in the form of spores destined to be spread by the wind.

When conditions are favorable, the carpophorus can literally grow like a mushroom, at prodigious speed; Some species can go from the size of a pinhead to maturity in a few hours!

Mushrooms thus constitute a distinct, extremely varied living kingdom, with its 100,000 species, of which at least 2,000 are edible and 500 are recognized as having, to varying degrees, an influence on the functions of the human body. Thus, mushrooms hide many secrets.

The body of knowledge acquired on the nutritional, toxic or hallucinogenic properties of mushrooms (see pages 30-31) are the result of multiple trials and errors made by humans, for which the abundance of these vegetables

The main mushrooms
(Agaricus bisporus)

This mushroom, called the Paris mushroom by the French speakers and the button mushroom by the English, is rather rare in the wild, and is the most widely cultivated in the world. Its cultivation, started by the gardener of Louis XIV, Jean-Baptiste de La Quintinie (1624-1691), was actually extended during the reign of Napoleon I in 1810, thanks to the efforts of the agronomist Chambry, who discovered (by the greatest chance ) that the abandoned quarries around Paris were an ideal location because of their temperature (10-15 ° C) and constant humidity.

Although French-speaking people call it a ‘Parisian’ mushroom, it is currently grown primarily in the United States (especially Pennsylvania), China, the Netherlands, and the Anjou region of France. Its flavor is not very pronounced and it is very popular especially in the West, where its consumption can reach 1 kg per person per year. A variant of the mushroom, the cremini or “coffee”, with a dark brown color and firmer texture, is also available in the market and is much appreciated in its ripe form, the famous Portobello.

Although the mushroom is less famous for its medicinal properties than its Asian cousins, it contains proteins similar to those of legumes (lectins) that, in the laboratory, prevent the growth of certain cancer cells.

Benefits of eating mushrooms
Prevent cancer

It is a unique source of antioxidants, many of which are not found in fruits or vegetables. Selenium and vitamin D help repair DNA, prevent its mutation, and inhibit the growth of malignant cells that can cause cancer.
They stimulate the immune system

Due to its selenium content, this mushroom stimulates the formation of killer T cells, thus killing cancer cells and preventing the formation of tumors.

Improve diabetes

Mushrooms contain high doses of fiber, and research has shown that diabetics who eat a diet rich in fiber can significantly improve blood sugar and insulin levels.

They stimulate the immune system

Due to its selenium content, this mushroom stimulates the formation of killer T cells, thus killing cancer cells and preventing the formation of tumors.

Improve diabetes

Mushrooms contain high doses of fiber, and research has shown that diabetics who eat a diet rich in fiber can significantly improve blood sugar and insulin levels.

Shiitake mushroom
(Lentinus edodes)

As common in Asia as the mushroom in the West, the shiitake is a mushroom (take, in Japanese) that grows in the wild on the shii (Castanopsis cuspidata), a tree with leaves similar to beech and oak, native to Southeast Asia. For several millennia the peoples of this region have used it for culinary and medicinal purposes. The cultivation of shiitake probably began in China, in the Qingyuan region, 2,000 years ago and later was perfected, especially in Japan. Today, the shiitake is, after the champignon, the second most cultivated species of mushroom in the world. Out of a total of 800,000 tons, Asians grow and consume 790,000 tons!
Shiitake is described in Asia as an “elixir of life” and its fame among those who seek longevity, sexual vigor and physical resistance has not stopped growing to this day.

Although shiitake began to be cultivated in America and Europe (especially in Holland and Britain), where it can now be found fresh in grocery stores, the largest production comes from Asia. This mushroom is therefore usually sold in dry form. This does not alter its unique taste because even in Asia many connoisseurs appreciate the dry form more because of its more pronounced taste. The popularity of shiitake depends not only on its gastronomic qualities, but also on its medicinal virtues. It is especially rich in lentinan, a complex sugar that has strong anticancer activity.

Benefits of the Shiitake Mushroom

Chinese medicine is one of the most widely used medicines in shiitake mushrooms. He uses it to enhance the energy or energy of the human body as well as the energy of the blood. It also imparts sweetness and the stomach as an associated organ.

Make you young

For Chinese medicine, it is a kind of food that can lead a long and healthy life. It can also be used to treat many health problems – it is used to treat infections, liver disease, fatigue, kidney disease, and even cancer.

Strengthens the immune system

Shiitake mushroom extract can strengthen the immune system and has been shown to be helpful for bacterial and viral infections (including AIDS).

Its administration has a positive effect on the influenza A2 virus and can reduce lung lesions by more than 40%.

Lentinan is not only an immunostimulant, but also reduces the fat content in the blood and has antibiotic, antiviral and antithrombotic effects.

EP3 lignin can strengthen the immune system and, combined with lentinan, has achieved positive results in the control and resistance of the HIV virus. It also has antiviral activity against herpes simplex and hepatitis B.

KS-2 is another polysaccharide that can increase interferon production and inhibit the growth of Ehrlich and Sarcoma 180 tumor cells.

One of the more than 50 enzymes in shiitake mushrooms is superoxide dismutase, which can reduce lipid peroxidation, which affects cell aging. It also provides protection against cancer.

Different studies have observed benefits in other areas, for example, in preventing cardiovascular diseases or in protecting the liver from damage caused by chemicals or autoimmune reactions.
Shiitake mushrooms in the kitchen

Its aroma is strong, with flavors of earth, caramel and nutmeg. Its flavor is umami. Therefore, it has meaty and smoky flavors.

Fresh shiitake mushrooms are preferred. Once they are cooked they are very soft in texture

To prepare them you must leave them soaking at least 5-6 hours

If you add them to soups or stews you should leave it longer since its texture is somewhat hard

Once hydrated, like fresh water, very fibrous feet must be removed. They can then be fully cooked, cut into limbs or thinly sliced.

If they are ground, they can be used without soaking.

Shiitake mushrooms can be used in almost all cooking methods:

  • The aroma is acidic after steaming.
  • Sautéed, you only need to heat to distribute its flavor, do your best
  • Frying increases its flavor and roasting ability.
  • The stew or stew is integrated into the team through a personal style.

It has an excellent effect on doughs used for croquettes, hamburgers, breadcrumbs or scallops. Its texture and flavor combined with soy sauce, grains or tofu can produce a very appetizing effect, similar to soft meat.

Gírgola mushroom.
(Pleurotus ostreatus)

Gírgolas (Pleurotus, from the Greek pleura, which means “side” and otos, “ear”), very common in Europe and North America, grow in compact groups reminiscent of an oyster farm. Due to its firm flesh and its sweet taste reminiscent of the aroma of wild mushrooms, the gírgola is a superb companion to meat and poultry. The common gyrgoyle, as well as its southern French cousin, the thistle mushroom (Pleurotus eryngii), called the English king oysteren, is among the mushrooms with the greatest anticancer activity on isolated tumor cells.

The medicinal properties of the girgola
Anticancer drugs

This fungus has anticancer agents. It is also an antioxidant and has vitamins A, E, C, and selenium.

Viral infection

It stimulates the production of interferon in the body and has antiviral effects.

Lower cholesterol

This is possible thanks to the iridanin and the fiber of the fungus that contains chitin.

Low blood pressure
Prevent thrombosis

Researchers in Bangkok and Hawaii have experimentally shown that shiitake mushrooms can prevent coronary thrombosis.
Low blood sugar levels

The low content of carbohydrates and lysine prevents the formation of sugar in the blood.


Extracted in 1971, it lowered the cholesterol level in the human body and has also been subjected to animal experiments with satisfactory results. The experiments carried out showed that after eating Gírgolas, the cholesterol levels were reduced between 5% and 10%.

This is a chemical that makes cells immune to viral infections. Tsunoda & Ishida discovered in 1970 that mushrooms contain an inducer of interferon gamma, which is used for the treatment of cancer and as an antiviral and anti-inflammatory agent for the treatment of hepatitis B and C.

Prostaglandin formation

The linoleic acid present in mushrooms is converted into different types of prostaglandins in the body. These are extracted from semen, I know some people think that they are excreted by the prostate, but now it is known that they are produced by many tissues in the body. Prostaglandin E1 is used to induce erections in men by intramuscular injection. Lentivirus increases T-cell production and has been shown to stimulate prostaglandin E1 production.


Research in Hungary shows that superoxide dismutase, an enzyme contained in shiitake mushrooms, can reduce lipid peroxidation. This is an important factor in the prevention of disease, especially coronary artery cancer, and is one of the theoretical reasons for longevity.


Finnish research shows that the addition of zinc will increase plasma testosterone levels and sperm count. When zinc is added to dialysate, male dialysis patients with urethral problems have also been shown to improve their sex lives. Zinc is present in these mushrooms


Selenium is an antioxidant trace element, which can prevent an excessive oxidation reaction, and its effect is related to the activity of vitamin E. This mineral prevents cardiovascular diseases and stimulates the immune system. When it is said to be an antioxidant, it goes without saying that it slows down the aging process of cells and is also linked to cancer prevention.

Maitake mushroom
(Grifola frondosa)

This small brown layered mushroom, native to northeastern Japan, grows in clusters that can reach impressive dimensions. Maitake means “dancing mushroom”, perhaps due to its innumerable overlapping leaves reminiscent of butterflies in flight or, according to legend, to the joy of the peasants who discovered it in ancient Japan and could exchange it for its weight in silver, given its unique flavor, highly sought after by gourmets. Only recently, in the eighties, has the cultivation of this mushroom developed, allowing a greater number of people to take advantage of its properties; indeed, maitake has long been used by Chinese and Japanese medicine, which has considered it an essential ingredient for good health and longevity. On the other hand, all the studies carried out in recent years indicate that maitake is the one that has the greatest activity to stimulate the immune system.

Enokitake mushroom
(Flammulina velutipes)

The anticancer properties of mushrooms

Some epidemiological studies have examined the relationship between the consumption of mushrooms and the reduction of the risk of developing cancer; the results obtained are encouraging.

For example, a researcher in Japan found that farmers whose main purpose was to grow enokitake (and who consumed it regularly) had a morta. cancer risk much lower than the ge population. general. In the same vein, another study conducted in Chiba, Japan, has shown that the regular consumption of Hypsizygus mannoreus (buna-shimeji) and Pholiota nameko (nameko), two popular mushrooms in this country, is associated with a decrease of around 50 % of the risk of stomach cancer, and these preventive effects are also observed in laboratory animals treated with a potent carcinogenic substance, methylcholanthrene.

In accordance with these observations, we have recently observed that the addition of extracts of mushrooms to isolated deuntumormamar cancer cells block the growth of these cells, with a particularly marked bidor effect for the enokitake and the gyrgoyle.

A certain number of polysaccharides, polymers with complexes made up of various units of certain sugars, are responsible for the anticancer effects associated with various mushrooms. These polymers, of variable composition and structures, A large number of mushrooms of Asian origin, especially shiitake, shiitake and maitake mushrooms, and Coriolus versicolor, which is an inedible species with an extremely high polysaccharide content.

Lentinan, a compound found in shiitake, is a polysaccharide whose antitumor activity is relatively well documented. In patients with stomach or colon cancer, the addition of lentinan to chemotherapy causes significant tumor regression and increases the lifespan of people, compared to chemotherapy alone, suggesting that this polysaccharide has an anticancer activity. On the other hand, the administration of a polysaccharide preparation similar to lentinan, PSK, is currently used in Japan in combination with chemotherapy to treat various types of cancer, especially colon cancer, in which the addition of this extract to the treatment improves survival of patients in remission.

The mechanisms responsible for the anticancer action of mushroom polysaccharides are very complex, but it is now recognized that these compounds stimulate the activity of the immune system.

For example, many works have shown that lentinan from shiitake, as well as a polysaccharide isolated from maitake, cause a strong increase in the number of white blood cells and the activity of these key cells of the immune system, thereby improving the effectiveness of chemotherapy. Therefore, it seems that this stimulation of the activity of the immune system by the active compounds of these mushrooms increases the possibilities of being able to control the incipient tumors and prevent them from reaching a mature stage.

However, the anticancer and immunostimulating activity of edible mushrooms does not appear to be restricted to species of Asian origin.

Really special mushrooms

Due to the special status of mushrooms in the royal feast, or because they were used to speed up the process of history, or due to their ability to promote communication with the gods, mushrooms have long been a great attraction to mankind. .

From a gastronomic point of view, the truffle is undoubtedly the best example. This mysterious mushroom was considered a special delicacy during the reign of Pharaoh Cheops more than four thousand years ago, and was highly prized by the Greek and Roman civilizations. It grows underground, and its identification still needs recognition. Animal species (usually dogs or dogs). Pork). It is considered a true “black diamond” and, more importantly, it is highly sought after for its excellent gourmet value. A kilo of the best truffles is worth more than two thousand dollars!

However, mushrooms are not always appreciated just for their cooking quality. Some are due to its powerful hallucinogenic power. Especially among the Aztecs, the shamans consumed teonanacatl (literally “the flesh of God”) to communicate with the gods in sacred ceremonies, “Due to the power of these mushrooms you could have visions of the future.

This mushroom is thought to be Psilocybe caerulescens, the active ingredients of which, psilocybin and psilocin, are powerful hallucinogens with effects similar to those of LSD. Another hallucinogenic mushroom, the fly agaric (Amanita muscaria), is easily recognized by its orange hat with white spots The sensory distortions and the euphoria that this mushroom produces are due to muscimol, a substance that the human body cannot transform so it is excreted as it is in the urine so that it can be absorbed by consumers. However, it is dangerous to ingest large amounts of this mushroom because it also contains a high percentage of muscarine, a molecule that, at high doses, can cause death.

However, other types of mushrooms leave no doubt about the fate of those who have consumed them; the Roman Emperor Claudius (Tiberius Claudius Nero Druso) in 54, Pope Clement VII in 1534 and the Germanic King Charles VI in 1740 are among the famous people who succumbed to the toxic effects of mushrooms. The best documented case of poisoning, especially by

Tacitus, is that of Claudio.

On October 13, 54, he fell ill after eating a large piece of oronjas (Caesar amanita) and died of pain shortly after. It is suspected that Claudius’ wife and second wife, Agrippina, introduced some Amanita phalloides into the mushroom dish so that her own son Nero (Nero) replaces the emperor, another heir to Claudius, Great Britain. Even today, the high content of powerful toxins (toxins) in edible mushrooms can cause fatal poisoning associated with edible mushrooms. About twelve hours after ingestion, the person

In summary

Mushrooms occupy a unique place in the human diet, both for their gastronomic value and for their health benefits.

Some of them, such as those of Asian origin and grígolas, are especially rich in anticancer mullecules that delay the development of cancer.

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