Known as olu/oosun in Yoruba, ero in Igbo and naman kaza in Hausa, mushrooms are one food group that though have been grossly underrepresented in meals, hold tremendous nutritional and medicinal benefits.
A member of the fungus family, mushrooms are rich in protein, dietary fibre, Vitamin B, Vitamin D, Copper, selenium, potassium, phosphorus and low carbohydrate. Touted for their anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and immune-enhancing properties, nutritional researches have shown that some of their medicinal advantages includes protecting diabetic patients from infections, lowering cholesterol levels, preventing breast and prostate cancer, improving bone health, boosting the immune system, reducing blood pressure, stimulating the absorption of iron, aiding in weight loss, promoting a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy among others.
They can also be cultivated domestically, picked in the wild and are also available for purchase in markets.
When buying mushrooms at the market, one has to be careful to choose ones that are firm, dry, and unbruised. Also, avoid mushrooms that appear slimy or withered. When storing mushrooms in the refrigerator, do not wash or trim them until ready for use.
Mushrooms are very easy to prepare and incorporate into dishes. They can be sautéed in olive or grape-seed oil with onions or any other vegetable of choice for a quick and tasty side dish. They also make a great alternative to meat.
Not all mushrooms can be consumed. Some are edible while others are poisonous. Some of the safe, common ones include the shiitake mushrooms, wood ear mushroom, oyster mushroom, simple button mushroom, enoki mushrooms.