Delicious! Photo by Sébastien Marchand on Unsplash
Some grow on their own accord. Others, you have to plant. But just how healthy are mushrooms?
Mushrooms are a type of fungi that are safe for human consumption. These are plants that grow and get their nutrients from dead plants and animal matter. However, not all mushrooms are edible but you can always differentiate them because they vary in their shape, colour and texture.
According to Daniel Kiprotich, a long term oyster mushroom farmer from Uasin Gishu county, and researcher from Masinde Muliro University, it is easy to know edible mushrooms and those that are poisonous.
“There are many types of edible mushrooms but the common ones are the oyster and the button mushrooms. I major in oyster because they have health benefits in human, they grow so fast and require less energy for farming but one needs to be very careful in terms of cleanliness for better production ”, says Daniel Kiprotich.
“All you need to have for oyster farming is the straw (probably from wheat), containers to soak the straws, plastic bags for holding the straws, a thermometer to regulate temperatures and space for production among important ingredients”, adds Kiprotich.
According to Kiprotich, most poisonous mushrooms have gills, which is a major difference from the edible ones.
“Although sometimes it’s not easy to know the difference, Poisonous mushrooms are rough in texture, that’s why they are called gills. Some have a skirt or a ring on the stem or a sack-like base called volva. Their colour is always different but majorly yellow. These are major characteristics of poisonous mushrooms”, says Kiprotich.
“They are easily identified because they randomly grow wildly in lawns and garden”, adds Kiprotich.
Mushrooms and Your Health
Matilda Makungu is a nutritionist from Moi teaching and referral hospital, Uasin Gishu County, and she explains the health benefits of eating mushrooms.
If you are the lot that worries about cholesterol, this is good for you.
“There are so many health benefits of eating mushrooms. For example, mushrooms have no cholesterol, and the fibre in it helps in lowering cholesterol level in the human body, hence preventing diseases like heart attack, and stroke”, explains Matilda.
“They also are rich in calcium hence strengthening the bones and teeth. This reduces joint pains and any bone degradation”, adds Matilda.
She says that mushrooms contain copper that increases iron absorption which is beneficial to the body. Lack of copper may lead to anaemia disease.
“It can reduce weight loss since it contains no fats. According to experts, Due to their nutrient density, they ranked higher than some fruits and vegetables”, adds Matilda.
Despite the health benefits, Matilda Makungu explains that there is a need to be cautious as there are side effects that one can suffer from as a result of eating mushrooms.
“There are people who may have an allergic reaction after eating mushrooms. The allergy may sometimes be extreme and that may call for medical attention. For instance lung problems, respiratory infection among others”, explains Matilda.
“Mushrooms can cause deaths especially when one eats the poisonous species. It is important to seek clarification before eating them. This will reduce fatal incidences”, adds Matilda.
Mushrooms and the Health of Planet Earth
They do not only nourish your health, but mushrooms are also good for mother earth.
In a Ted Talk, world-renowned mycologist Paul Stamets articulates the importance of mushrooms in solving some earth’s biggest problems. As the world grapples with a range of problems including pollution, mushrooms could just form part of the solution. They can;
- Help in absorbing farm pollution
- Can be used as fuel.
- Combat a variety of insects
- Enrich farms and forests
“ A healthy diet is a solution to many of our health-care problems. It’s the most important solution”, says John Mackey.