Mushrooms are a prime natural source of the antioxidant ergothioneine. In fact, researchers have found that white button mushrooms have about 12 times more of the antioxidant than wheat germ and four times more than chicken liver. These foods were previously considered to be the primary source of the antioxidant.
Results of a study by researchers at Tufts University in the States also suggest that white button mushrooms may promote innate immunity against tumours and viruses by enhancing natural killer cell activity.
Make the most of white button mushrooms with these tips from the 5-a-Day for Better Health Trust:
- always choose mushrooms that are smooth and firm to the touch;
- keep mushrooms refrigerated and never wash them before storing (unwashed mushrooms last longer);
- don't store them in airtight containers – this speeds up condensation and causes spoilage;
- mushrooms don't need much cleaning – a gentle wipe with a damp cloth is more than enough;
- never peel mushrooms or remove their stalks – the whole mushroom is edible and the skin contains important nutrients.
White button mushrooms add a rich flavour to many different types of dishes, but are low in calories. Therefore, they can be eaten freely.
Mushrooms are also a useful source of vitamins B1, B2 and B6, folic acid, niacin, iron, and potassium.