When it comes to balanced nutrition coordinated to the needs of the human organism, medicinal mushrooms take on an important role as part of a varied diet. They can score points in multiple ways at once: they are rich in protein and fibre and are also low in calories, they contain high levels of micronutrients as well as highly interesting, sometimes mushroom-specific bioactive substances, and they represent a delicious and healthy addition to the menu for vegetarian and vegan diets.
With their high levels of protein and fibre, medicinal mushrooms are very filling and a valuable part of a weight-regulating diet – an important aspect in view of the growing obesity rate. They also contain hardly any energyrelevant components such as fats and carbohydrates and display an accordingly low glycaemic index. The proportion of fibre is much higher in some mushrooms than in many varieties of fruit and vegetables. In particular, the fibre from the cell walls of the mushroom optimises transit time in the gut and facilitates defecation. Medicinal mushrooms are also rich in various vitamins (above all B vitamins, vitamins A, C and provitamin D2) as well as in minerals and trace elements (among others, potassium, phosphorus, iron, copper, manganese and selenium), while the sodium content is notably low.
The mushroom-specific and substances of particular nutritional interest include various secondary components. Certain polysaccharide structures should be mentioned here first of all. The β-D-glucans occurring in various mushrooms possess verifiable immunomodulating and anti-tumoral properties, which are traced back to the specific link between glucose
molecules. Physiological mechanisms associated with this, among other things, activate immunocompetent cells and can curb allergic reactions.
The triterpenes, which serve as flavourings in the mushrooms and can have an anti-inflammatory, anti-infective and regulatory effect on the lipid metabolism, are also of major importance. What’s more, medicinal mushrooms contain lectins, which are also immunologically relevant, and nucleic acid complexes, which are attributed with a blood-thinning and cholesterol-lowering effect. The secondary, non-nutritive and yet still highly valuable components in medicinal mushrooms also include various
antioxidants, enzymes and fatty acids. Many studies exist showing the mushrooms’ positive influence on human health.