The Common Mushroom
The Common Mushroom is actually a particular mushroom and not a generic term. Its scientific name is Agaricus Bisporus. Of course it was accorded the name because it is the most commonly known and eaten mushroom across the world. People in over 70 countries actually farm it. In maturity, the mushroom is christened Portobello. Apart from the Common Mushroom, its other baptismal names are Table Mushroom, Button Mushroom, White Mushroom, Champignon Mushroom, Crimini Mushroom, Cultivated Mushroom, Swiss Brown Mushroom, Roman Brown Mushroom, Italian Brown Mushroom and Italian Mushroom. This long list signals the possibility of other titles out there. It should not be surprising, though. It is just in keeping with the long list of places that the Agaricus Bisporus has mushroomed.
Agaricus Bisporus originated in the grasslands of North America and Europe. When growing in a natural habitat, the mushroom looks greyish brown. When young, its cap is hemispherical. It, however, flattens out as it grows. Great care should be taken when picking mushrooms especially in the wild. The Common Mushroom should not be confused with the very dangerous and poisonous Destroying Angel. The main distinguishing features between the two are the colour of the gills and the mushroom base. Whereas the gills of the killer mushroom are suspiciously snow white, those of Agaricus Bisporus are pink or brown. Also at the base of the mushroom, the poisonous mushroom has a cup or volva, while the Common Mushroom does not have.
Agaricus Bisporus has substantial amounts of Vitamin D which is good for your health. Eating the mushroom raw is discouraged because of the presence of carcinogenic hydrazine derivatives, albeit in small quantities. These unhealthy derivatives are reduced significantly by cooking.
This mushroom contains Potassium and Sodium too. The body requires potassium in the processing of carbohydrates and proteins in different ways to build muscle. It also plays a role in how the heart works. It also regulates the acid base and contributes to the overall health of the body. Apart from the Agaricus Bisporus mushroom, potassium is also in present in meats, fish, soy and vegetables. Potassium is a necessity in the body and therefore its deficiency can cause different diseases. When potassium falls short, blood pressure slightly rises, the heartbeats get abnormal and the body muscles feel weak. This condition is described as hypokalemia. It could be caused by heart medications, excessive consumption of laxatives and other factors.
The reverse condition is not good either. When potassium is too much in your body, your heart rate becomes dangerously irregular. This could be caused by serious infection in the body, inability of the kidney to work properly, or some other factors. This condition is referred to as hyperkalemia. In both situations, a person needs a proper check up by the doctor.
A lot of information about the benefits of potassium and sodium can be derived from the Panel on Dietary Reference Intakes for Electrolytes and Water, Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes. Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2004.
Sodium is very useful in the body. When it is derived from natural foods, it is all the better. This is because it is received in its purest form, and if it exceeds the level that the body requires, the body is able to release the extra amount easily. This expulsion of excess sodium from the body is done through the kidneys. Sodium is charged with regulating the amount of water in the body. This function is important for the system to work well. For the brain to work properly, and every other function of the body to be normal, sodium has to be in its proper level.
Having excessive sodium in the body is called hypernatremia while having too little is called hyponatremia. Loss of body fluids through diarrhea or vomiting can cause hypernatremia. Drinking too little water and prevalence of kidney disease can also lead to this condition.
The causes of hyponatremia are varied but they all lead to a situation where the ratio of salt to water in the body is too low. Burns can cause this. Congestive heart failure can also be a cause. Kidney and liver diseases are other possible causes. Because of the implications of such a low sodium ratio, many patients are added sodium intravenously so that crucial body functions do not collapse.
Chloride also helps to keep the normal body fluid balance. Excess of it is known as hyperchloremia. A person may get into this condition in times of diarrhea, when the parathyroid glands are overactive, or when one has a kidney disease.
Normal release of excessive chloride is done through sweat, urine and other secretions. But unwarranted loss of chloride can occur through vomiting, abnormal sweating, and disorders of the kidney and adrenal glands. This condition is known as hypochloremia. It is important that a person seeks medical attention in both cases.
In 2009, there was a case control study which examined the diets of 2018 women, where half of whom had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
It found a statistically significant decrease of incidence of the disease in those women whose diets included more than 10 grams of fresh mushrooms per day (or the dry equivalent). Women in the study who consumed fresh mushrooms on a daily basis, were less likely to develop breast cancer, while those that combined a mushroom diet with regular green tea consumption, had reduced their risk of breast cancer by nearly 90%.
In a similar case control study with 362 Korean women, they found another strong association between mushroom consumption and decreased risk of breast cancer.
Growing the Common Mushroom