By Any Chance Should I Eat that Mushroom?

Zachary B.

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A top 5 Best and Worse

 

 

            You’ve seen them growing in your backyard or sprouting on a rotten log.  Mario has been using them for years to power-up or get an extra life.  Then, the next minute he’s hitting a poison mushroom and its game-over.  Parody aside, the real world can be very similar.  Ever spotted one growing in your back yard?  I hope your mom told you not to eat it (same is true for your dog by the way).  No, not all mushrooms are alike.  While there may be too many to list, here’s a tribute to 5 of the most popular mushrooms you can eat and 5 of the most dangerous mushrooms to avoid!

 

 

The Most Popular Mushrooms in Town:

 

1.       Shiitake Mushrooms:  If you lived in Japan or China, you may have seen them growing on the bark of a tree. Surprisingly edible, Finecooking.com says that these mushrooms are known for a more “meaty” or “smoky” flavor.  Other benefits to eating them include the compounds lentanin and 1,3-beta glucan, which have been claimed to slow tumor growth or the compound eritadenine, which blocks the absorption of cholesterol, according to cancer.org

 

2.       Portobello Mushrooms:  Known for their big flat tops, these mushrooms may be large enough to substitute for a hamburger on a sandwich.  The benefits include high fiber, low calories, and B vitamins states the Healthy Eating section of the San Francisco Chronicle. 

      

3.      Cremini Mushrooms:  What’s a Portobello called when it’s still a baby?  A “baby portobello!”  Or more officially a cremini.  These mushrooms are picked before they sprout into the big Portobello flat tops.  Eat them for a good dose of B vitamins.

 

 

4.      Oyster Mushrooms:  Which mushroom looks like a seashell?  You got it, the Oyster mushroom.  Found in temperate and tropical climates, these mushrooms also grow on the barks of hardwood trees.  Oyster mushrooms are also a popular choice for stir-fry and sautéed dishes.  Try them raw and you might note a peppery taste, which dissipates with cooking.  For nutrition, eat them for “ergothioneine, a unique antioxidant exclusively produced by fungi” to protect your cells or for some extra minerals such as zinc and iron, according to Livestrong.com. 

 

 

5.      White Button Mushrooms:  Last but not least, are the white button mushrooms, which are probably the most common mushroom people are familiar with.  These mushrooms were the earliest mushrooms to be cultivated back in the early 1700s, according to data at Wikipedia.org.  More important however, these also make for those delicious stuffed mushrooms you’ve had on a special occasion or a night out.  Eat them for the benefits of selenium, a mineral said to have antioxidant properties.

 

 

           

 

Some of the Most Dangerous Mushrooms in Town:

 

1.     Fly Amanita (Amanita Muscaria):  Welcome to the Mario World mushroom!   It’s red with white spots on the cap, but this is one mushroom that is not going to help you “level-up” in the real world.  Not only is it a hallucinogenic, at high doses it’s deadly.   It also gets it’s name the “fly amanita,” because its been used as insecticide to kill flies, reports the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.org.

 

 

 

2.     Jack-O’-Lantern Mushroom (Omphalotus Olearius):  You may have guessed that this mushroom got the nickname the “jack-o-lantern” because of its orange color.  But did you know, that its also glows?  With bioluminescent gills and its orange color this is one funky mushroom, but nonetheless it’s not a safe one.  Consuming this mushroom will lead to cramping, vomiting, and diarrhea, according to the US Library of Medicine at NCBI.gov.

 

 

 

3.      Galerina (Galerina Marginata): Don’t be fooled when you see these light brown mushrooms growing on a log, they are deadly.  The Missouri Department of Conservation says they grow statewide throughout the year in their state, and if you do swallow them the Department of Conservation (http://mdc.mo.gov) warns that, “Symptoms can begin 10 or more hours after eating. The first symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea, and cramps; these may subside for a while, but later kidney or liver dysfunction can occur, and possibly death.”  Guess I won’t be putting these on my next salad!

 

 

4.      Destroying Angel (Amanita Bisporigera):Called the most deadly poisonous mushroom to mycologists, according to the Cornell Mushroom Blog.  This mainly white mushroom is apparently found all over the world, but also in plentitude in Northeastern North America, where even one guest at the Cornell blog shares the misfortune of eating one.  Needless to say, hoping to beat the 66% death rate of the mushroom is not the way to go.  The problem as explained in the blog is not the initial vomiting, cramps and delirium caused by the mushrooms, but the 24 to 48 hours later when the kidneys and liver tissue irreversibly fail.  

 

 

5.      Death Cap (Amanita Phalloides):  Like many of the other poisonous mushrooms, this toxic mushroom brings up the same recurring theme since it will also inhibit essential protein synthesis in your liver and kidneys leading to coma and death, explains Wikihow article How to Identify a Death Cap Mushroom.  Not only did this mushroom kill the Roman emperor Claudius and Holy Roman Emperor Charles Vl, according to Wikipedia, but this tricky mushroom also apparently has a smell similar to an innocent rose petal.   Bring that one to your girlfriend will you? 

 

 

            There you have it, as you may have already guessed, some mushrooms may be as good as a cure for deadly illnesses, while others will bring you to your knees this week.  The next time you’re in or near any neck of the woods, be sure to bring your mushroom guide and don’t let the “smell of the roses” fool you!

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