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All-Star of the Day: Mushrooms

Posted Sep 11 2008 8:44pm
The term "fungus" does not necessarily make one think of nutrition and wellness, but a healthy eater knows not to judge food by its name.

Not only are mushrooms a dieter's dream food, they could also soon become one of the absolute best sources of the sunshine vitamin!

The meaty texture of a grilled portabella mushroom might have you thinking it was a high-fat food. Quite the contrary!

A four-ounce portabella only provides 42 calories and 1 gram of fat, while simultaneously delivering 3 grams of fiber, 31% of our daily selenium needs, and 18% of the potassium and phosphorus we should be getting each day.

Selenium is one mineral -- and antioxidant -- you want to make sure your body is getting, since it works alongside vitamin E to cut down on cell damage caused by free radicals.

If you prefer shiitake mushrooms, consider that one cup of these cooked veggies contains a mere 81 calories and also provides 3 grams of fiber, 13% of our recommended daily intake of zinc, and half a day's worth of selenium.

Coincidentally, it is the white button variety that has become the vegetable world's hot button player.

Recent microcellular research has concluded that if a serving (half a cup) of these unique-shaped mushrooms are exposed to five minutes of ultraviolet light after being harvested, they become vitamin D powerhouses, providing 869 percent of the daily recommended intake!

This is a huge development, considering that recent estimates classify two thirds of adults in the United States as Vitamin D deficient.

However, I find that number to be extremely high. Such a large amount of vitamin D can cause nausea, kidney failure, and hypertension. Hopefully, they can find a way to expose this vegetable to UV light for a shorter amount of time and get them to contain 75 to 100 percent of the sunshine vitamin.

In the meantime, don't fear fungus. Add it to salads, stir fries, or bite into a grilled portabella burger (add pesto and grilled onions and peppers on top; you'll thank me later.)
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