The standard for the name “mushroom” is the cultivated white button mushroom, Agaricusbisporus; hence the word “mushroom” is most often applied to those fungi (Basidiomycota, Agaricomycetes) that have a stem (stipe), a cap (pileus), and gills (lamellae, sing. lamella) on the underside of the cap. “Mushroom” also describes a variety of other gilled fungi, with or without stems, therefore the term is used to describe the fleshy fruiting bodies of some Ascomycota. These gills produce microscopic spores that help the fungus spread across the ground or its occupant surface.
Forms deviating from the standard morphology usually have more specific names, such as “bolete”, “puffball”, “stinkhorn”, and “morel”, and gilled mushrooms themselves are often called “agarics” in reference to their similarity to Agaricus or their order Agaricales. By extension, the term “mushroom” can also designate the entire fungus when in culture; the thallus (called a mycelium) of species forming the fruiting bodies called mushrooms; or the species itself.
Mushroom develops from a nodule, or pinhead, less than two millimetres in diameter, called a primordium, which is typically found on or near the surface of the substrate. It is formed within the mycelium, the mass of threadlike hyphae that make up the fungus. The primordium enlarges into a roundish structure of interwoven hyphae roughly resembling an egg, called a “button”. The button has a cottony roll of mycelium, the universal veil, that surrounds the developing fruit body. As the egg expands, the universal veil ruptures and may remain as a cup, or volva, at the base of the stalk, or as warts or volval patches on the cap. Many mushrooms lack a universal veil, therefore they do not have either a volva or volval patches. Often, a second layer of tissue, the partial veil, covers the bladelike gills that bear spores. As the cap expands, the veil breaks, and remnants of the partial veil may remain as a ring, or annulus, around the middle of the stalk or as fragments hanging from the margin of the cap. The ring may be skirt-like as in some species of Amanita, collar-like as in many species of Lepiota, or merely the faint remnants of a cortina (a partial veil composed of filaments resembling a spiderweb), which is typical of the genus Cortinarius. Mushrooms lacking partial veils do not form an annulus.
Mushroom Nutrition Facts
Mushrooms are very low in calories with only 16 calories per cup. Mushrooms are considered a very low glycemic index food with a value of 10. Mushrooms are considered an excellent (>20% DV) source of copper, selenium, vitamin B2, and B5. Mushrooms provide a decent amount of protein compared with other vegetables offering nearly 2 g per cup.
Health Benefits of Mushrooms
B vitamins present in mushrooms help reduce levels of homocysteine, which in turn, cuts risk of cardiovascular disease. Components in mushrooms improve activity of white blood cells through acting on immune system markers (macrophages, monocytes, dendritic cells). Protein is a key factor in providing satiety as well as structure for our organs and tissues. Copper is a crucial micronutrient for building strong tissues, producing energy for our cells, and as a an antioxidant source.
Research on Mushrooms and Type 2 Diabetes
One study showed lowered glucose and improved lipid levels in diabetic rats with high cholesterol fed with mushrooms. Much of the underlying causes of chronic disease, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease, involves inflammation. Mushrooms have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce this. Mushrooms are also high in antioxidants, which help reverse the effects of aging and cell damage.
Mushrooms and Diabetes
Mushrooms are a low-calorie nutrient dense carb that can and should fit very nicely into a healthy diabetic diet for those with and without diabetes.
By – Assistant Professor – Dr. Versha Upadhyay
Department of Agriculture
Uttaranchal (P.G.) College Of Bio-Medical Sciences & Hospital