Choose Heart Healthy Mushrooms this Month

February. It’s already shaping up to be a very busy month! I mean, we’ve got the Super Bowl a few days away, Valentine’s Day in a little over a week, and Family Day (in most provinces)… so I think that it is very fitting that February is known as “Heart Month.

Of course we all want to keep the good ‘ol ticker in excellent shape, but just how do you go about it? Maintaining a healthy weight and keeping blood cholesterol in check are some of the best ways to keep your heart healthy. Eating more fruits and vegetables can also help protect our hearts against cardiovascular disease by providing vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre, as well as plant compounds called phytochemicals.

Fresh Mushrooms Can Help!

Watch the Weight
Mushrooms are a perfect choice for weight management, since they have high water content, are low in fat and contain fibre: three factors that help you feel full with fewer calories (that means less room for calorie-laden foods).

Cut the Cholesterol
Fresh mushrooms contain both soluble and insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre has been shown to help prevent and manage cardiovascular disease by lowering the levels of total and LDL cholesterol.

Adding the Antioxidants
Fresh mushrooms contain significant levels of l-ergothioneine, which acts as an antioxidant. Ergothioneine doesn’t break down when it’s heated, which means you can enjoy mushrooms raw or cooked!

Mushrooms Make a Difference

  • Add ½ cup white button mushrooms as a side to chicken. Benefit: one 1 extra gram of fibre.
  • Mix 1 cup of diced portabella mushrooms into risotto. Benefit: three 3 extra grams of fibre.
  • Include 1½ cups sliced crimini (brown) mushrooms in pasta sauce. Benefit: five 5 extra grams of fibre.

For more about heart health visit the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada.

The Good on Mushrooms

The Nutritional Value of Fresh Mushrooms
Fresh mushrooms are making their mark! Even though they look simple, mushrooms have a whole lot going for them in the nutrition department.

  • Antioxidants: Fresh mushrooms contain a powerful antioxidant called l-ergothioneine. Ergothioneine is found in both raw and cooked mushrooms. Portabella and crimini mushrooms have the most, followed by white button mushrooms.
  • Cancer-fighting: Fresh mushrooms offer nutrients such as beta-glucans and conjugated linoleic acid, compounds that are currently being studied for their chemo-preventive potential. Recent research suggests that mushrooms (and mushroom extracts) may have powerful anticancer activity, for both breast and prostate cancer.
  • Essential Nutrients: A 100 gram serving of sliced fresh white mushrooms has only 25 calories, no cholesterol, is virtually fat-free, is low in sodium and has 1 gram of fibre. They are a good source of riboflavin, copper, selenium, niacin and pantothenic acid.
  • Fibre: Mushrooms offer both soluble and insoluble fibre, which helps to maintain good bowel health.
  • Immunity: A strong immune system helps protect against infections from bacteria and viruses. Emerging research indicates that certain mushroom extracts (including extracts from the white button mushrooms), may have a positive effect on the immune system.
  • Weight management: Fresh mushrooms are a perfect choice for low energy-dense diets, as they have high water content, are low in fat, and contain some fibre; three factors that will help keep you feeling full with fewer calories. Researchers have found that people who eat satisfying portions of foods that are less energy-dense have greater success at weight loss and maintenance.

– Brittany