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Mushrooms, Crimini

Coffee colored and richer in flavor and nutrients than the more common white button mushroom, crimini mushrooms are available throughout the year.

Mushrooms are as mysteriously unique as they are delicious. While often thought of as a vegetable and prepared like one, mushrooms are actually a fungus, a special type of living organism that has no roots, leaves, flowers or seeds. While mushroom can be cultivated, they can also be found growing wild in many regions of the world.

 


Health Benefits

Phytonutrient Protection Against Breast Cancer

For the past twenty years, phytonutrients found in mushrooms have been the object of anti-cancer research. Most of this research has centered on carbohydrate-related parts of mushrooms, including their polysaccharide and beta-glucan components. In addition, most of this research has focused on the “specialty” mushrooms, including Shiitake, Maitake, and Reishi. More recently, however, the common button mushrooms, including Crimini, have been shown to have anticancer properties as well. In particular, adding these mushrooms to the diet may help protect against the development of breast cancer by preventing circulating levels of estrogen in the body from becoming excessive. (Excessive estrogen, or hyperestrogenemia, has been repeatedly linked to increased risk of breast cancer). This effect appears to be accomplished through inhibition of an enzyme in the body called aromatase (estrogen synthase) that is necessary for the production of estrogen.

The range of traditional nutrients found in Crimini mushrooms is equally impressive. Our food ranking system showed Crimini mushrooms to be an excellent source of selenium, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, copper, niacinm, potassium and phosphorous. Selenium is needed for the proper function of the antioxidant system, which works to reduce the levels of damaging free radicals in the body. Selenium is a necessary cofactor of one of the body's most important internally produced antioxidants, glutathione peroxidase, and also works with vitamin E in numerous vital antioxidant systems throughout the body. These powerful antioxidant actions make selenium helpful not only against colon cancer by protecting colon cells from cancer-causing toxins, but in decreasing asthma and arthritis symptoms and in the prevention of heart disease. In addition, selenium is involved in DNA repair, yet another way in which adequate intake of this mineral is associated with a reduced risk for cancer. Eight ounces of raw Crimini mushrooms provide 52.6% of the daily value for selenium.

Copper is another trace mineral that may be helpful in reducing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Copper, along with manganese (yet another trace mineral for which Crimini mushrooms is a very good source), is an essential cofactor of a key oxidative enzyme called superoxide dismutase. Superoxide dismutase disarms free radicals produced within the mitochondria (the energy production factories within our cells). Copper is also necessary for the activity of lysyl oxidase, an enzyme involved in cross-linking collagen and elastin, both of which provide the ground substance and flexibility in blood vessels, bones and joints. Low dietary intake of copper may also be associated with increased fecal free radical production and fecal water alkaline phosphatase activity, risk factors for colon cancer. Eight ounces of raw Crimini mushrooms supply 35.5% of the daily value for copper and 10.0% of the DV for manganese.

Crimini are also a good source of iron, which is primarily used as part of hemoglobin, the molecule responsible for transporting and releasing oxygen throughout the body. But hemoglobin synthesis also relies on copper. Without copper, iron cannot be properly utilized in red blood cells. Fortunately, Mother Nature supplies both minerals in Crimini mushrooms.

Our food ranking system also showed these mushrooms to contain a variety of B complex vitamins. Crimini mushrooms qualified as an excellent source of riboflavin, pantothenic acid and niacin, as well as a very good source of thiamin, and vitamin B6, and a good source of folate, all of which are nutrients that are necessary for carbohydrate, protein and lipid metabolism.

Riboflavin (vitamin B2) plays at least two important roles in the body's energy production. When active in energy production pathways, riboflavin takes the form of flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) or flavin mononucleotide (FMN). In these forms, riboflavin attaches to protein enzymes called flavoproteins that allow oxygen-based energy production to occur. Flavoproteins are found throughout the body, particularly in locations where oxygen-based energy production is constantly needed, such as the heart and other muscles.

Riboflavin's other role in energy production is protective. The oxygen-containing molecules the body uses to produce energy can be highly reactive and can inadvertently cause damage to the mitochondria and even the cells themselves. In the mitochondria, such damage is largely prevented by a small, protein-like molecule called glutathione. Like many "antioxidant" molecules, glutathione must be constantly recycled, and it is vitamin B2 that allows this recycling to take place. (Technically, vitamin B2 is a cofactor for the enzyme glutathione reductase that reduces the oxidized form of glutathione back to its reduced version.) Riboflavin been shown to be able to reduce the frequency of migraine headaches in people who suffer from them. Eight ounces of Crimini mushrooms supply 40.6% of the daily value for riboflavin.

The B vitamin, pantothenic acid also plays an important role in the prevention of fatigue since it supports the function of the adrenal glands, particularly in times of stress. Crimini mushrooms provide 21.3% of the daily value for pantothenic acid in 8 ounces.

Niacin (vitamin B3) is helpful in reducing cholesterol levels and in preventing osteoarthritis, while vitamin B6 is needed to convert homocysteine, a dangerous molecule that can directly damage blood vessel walls, into other benign substances. At high levels, homocysteine is associated with a greatly increased risk for heart attack and stroke, so Crimini mushrooms which contain 26.9% of the daily value for niacin, and 8.0% of the DV for vitamin B6 are of significant benefit.

Zinc for Optimal Immune Function

As if the above health benefits were not enough, Crimini mushrooms were also determined to be a very good source of zinc. Zinc affects many fundamental processes, perhaps the most important of which is immune function. If one mineral was singled out for its beneficial effects on the immune system, zinc would lead the pack. A cofactor in a wide variety of enzymatic reactions, zinc is critical not only to immune function, but to wound healing, and normal cell division. Zinc also helps stabilize blood sugar levels and the body's metabolic rate, is necessary for an optimal sense of smell and taste, has been shown to prevent the blood vessel damage that can occur in atherosclerosis, and may help to reduce the painful inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis. A strong immune system depends on adequate zinc levels, so the zinc in Crimini mushrooms may also help to prevent illnesses such as recurrent colds and ear infections, and even some of the serious infections seen in patients with advanced or long-standing diabetes. Eight ounces of Crimini mushrooms provide 10.4% of the daily value for zinc.

Protection against Alzheimer's Disease and Age-related Cognitive Decline

Research published in the August 2004 issue of the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry indicates regular consumption of niacin-rich foods like crimini mushrooms also provides protection against Alzheimer's disease and age-related cognitive decline.

Researchers from the Chicago Health and Aging Project interviewed 3,718 Chicago residents aged 65 or older about their diet, then tested their cognitive abilities over the following six years. Those getting the most niacin from foods (22 mg per day) were 70% less likely to have developed Alzheimer's disease than those consuming the least (about 13 mg daily), and their rate of age-related cognitive decline was significantly less. (August 23, 2004)

Description

Mushrooms are as mysteriously unique as they are delicious. While often thought of as a vegetable and prepared like one, mushrooms are actually fungi, a special type of living organism that has no roots, leaves, flowers or seeds. While they can be cultivated, they easily grow wild in many regions of the world.

Button mushrooms generally look like little cartoon umbrellas, having a dense parasol-like cap attached to a stem that can be short and thick or thin and slightly curvy. There are three different types of button mushrooms- white mushrooms, Crimini mushrooms and Portabello mushrooms. The white mushroom is the most common type and is the cream colored mushroom that often adorns salads. The Crimini mushroom, which looks just like the button but is coffee colored, actually features a more distinctive flavor. The Portabello mushroom whose large size and meaty flavor make it a wonderful vegetarian entrée, is actually an overgrown Crimini mushroom. The scientific name for these mushrooms is Agaricus bisporus.

History

Button mushrooms have grown wild since prehistoric times, having been consumed as food by the early hunter-gatherers. Since ancient times, mushrooms have been thought to have special powers. The Egyptians thought that they granted immortality, and since only the pharaohs were felt to be worthy of this gift, the common people were not even allowed to touch mushrooms, let alone eat them. In ancient Rome, people oftentimes referred to mushrooms as cibus diorum – food for the gods. The folklore of many cultures, including Russia, China and Mexico held that eating mushrooms could give someone superhuman strength.

Although button mushrooms have been enjoyed by people around the world for millennia, it was not until the 17th century that they began to be cultivated. The first attempts at cultivation began near Paris, a city that still has hundreds of miles of underground caves and tunnels where mushrooms are grown. Cultivation of button mushrooms began in the United States in the late 19th century. Button mushrooms are grown throughout many regions of the world, especially countries in the Northern Hemisphere. The United States is one of the leading commercial producers of button mushrooms with the majority being produced in Pennsylvania.

How to Select and Store

Look for mushrooms that are firm, plump and clean. Those that are wrinkled or have wet slimy spots should be avoided. Since mushrooms darken as they age, choose those that are either creamy white or tan, depending upon whether you are purchasing white or Crimini mushrooms. If your recipe calls for caps only, choose mushrooms that have short stems to avoid waste. Fresh and dried button mushrooms are available throughout the year.

The best way to store loose button mushrooms is to keep them in the refrigerator either placed in a loosely closed paper bag, wrapped in a damp cloth or laid out in a glass dish that is covered with a moist cloth. These methods will help them to preserve their moisture without becoming soggy and will keep them fresh for several days. Mushrooms that are purchased prepackaged can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week in their original container. Dried mushrooms should be stored in a tightly sealed container in either the refrigerator or freezer, where they will stay fresh for six months to one year.

How to Enjoy

For some of our favorite recipes, click Recipes.

Tips for Preparing Mushrooms:

Mushrooms are so porous that if they are exposed to too much water, they will quickly absorb it and become soggy. Therefore, the best way to clean mushrooms without sacrificing their texture and taste is to clean them using minimal, if any, water. To do this, simply wipe them with a slightly damp paper towel or kitchen cloth. You could also use a mushroom brush, available at most kitchenware stores.

If using the whole mushroom in a recipe, simply slice off the very bottom of the stem, which is usually a bit spongy. If your recipe only calls for the caps, gently break off the stems with your hands and discard (or save for making soup stock).

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:

Healthy sautéed mushrooms and onions make a great side dish to meat dishes.

Add finely chopped mushrooms to a pot of tomato pasta sauce.

After removing the stems from mushrooms, stuff them with your favorite vegetable medley or soft cheese.

Make the classic brunch favorite…..the mushroom omelet.

Safety

Crimini mushrooms are not a commonly allergenic food, are not included in the list of 20 foods that most frequently contain pesticide residues, and are also not known to contain goitrogens, oxalates, or purines.

Nutritional Profile

Introduction to Food Rating System Chart

The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good or good source. Next to the nutrient name you will find the following information: the amount of the nutrient that is included in the noted serving of this food; the %Daily Value (DV) that amount represents; the nutrient density rating; and, the food's World's Healthiest Foods Rating. Not all of our Daily Value standards are obtained from the FDA. In most instances, we used FDA Daily Values when available because they are widely recognized and apply to both men and women. However, when unavailable, we've used other science-based research to establish nutritional standards. Underneath the chart is a table that summarizes how the ratings were devised. Read more about our Food and Recipe Rating System.

 

Mushrooms, Crimini, Raw
5.00 oz-wt
31.19 calories
Nutrient Amount DV
(%)
Nutrient
Density
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
selenium 36.85 mcg 52.6 30.4 excellent
vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 0.69 mg 40.6 23.4 excellent
copper 0.71 mg 35.5 20.5 excellent
vitamin B3 (niacin) 5.39 mg 26.9 15.6 excellent
tryptophan 0.08 g 25.0 14.4 excellent
vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) 2.13 mg 21.3 12.3 excellent
potassium 635.04 mg 18.1 10.5 excellent
phosphorus 170.10 mg 17.0 9.8 excellent
zinc 1.56 mg 10.4 6.0 very good
manganese 0.20 mg 10.0 5.8 very good
vitamin B1 (thiamin) 0.13 mg 8.7 5.0 very good
vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) 0.16 mg 8.0 4.6 very good
protein 3.54 g 7.1 4.1 very good
folate 19.85 mcg 5.0 2.9 good
dietary fiber 0.85 g 3.4 2.0 good
magnesium 12.76 mg 3.2 1.8 good
iron 0.57 mg 3.2 1.8 good
calcium 25.52 mg 2.6 1.5 good
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
Rule
excellent DV>=75% OR Density>=7.6 AND DV>=10%
very good DV>=50% OR Density>=3.4 AND DV>=5%
good DV>=25% OR Density>=1.5 AND DV>=2.5%

In Depth Nutritional Profile for Mushrooms, Crimini

References

  • Bobek P, Galbavy S, Ozdin L. Effect of oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) on pathological changes in dimethylhydrazine-induced rat colon cancer. Oncol Rep 1998 May-1998 Jun 30;5(3):727-30.
  • Davis CD. Low dietary copper increases fecal free radical production, fecal water alkaline phosphatase activity and cytotoxicity in healthy men. J Nutr. 2003 Feb; 133(2):522-7.
  • Ensminger AH, Ensminger, ME, Kondale JE, Robson JRK. Foods & Nutriton Encyclopedia. Pegus Press, Clovis, California.
  • Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; 1986.
  • Fortin, Francois, Editorial Director. The Visual Foods Encyclopedia. Macmillan, New York.
  • Grube BJ, Eng ET, Kao YC, et al. White Button Mushroom Phytochemicals Inhibit Aromatase Activity and Breast Cancer Cell Proliferation. J Nutr 2001 Dec;131(12):3288-93.
  • Kidd PM. The use of mushroom glucans and proteoglycans in cancer treatment. Altern Med Rev 2000 Feb;5(1):4-27.
  • Morris MC, Evans DA, Bienias JL, Scherr PA, Tangney CC, Hebert LE, Bennett DA, Wilson RS, Aggarwal N. Dietary niacin and the risk of incident Alzheimer's disease and of cognitive decline. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2004 Aug;75(8):1093-9.
  • Wood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988.

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