The term "fungus" does not necessarily make one think of nutrition and wellness, but a healthy eater knows not to judge food by its name.
Not only are mushrooms a dieter's dream food, they could also soon become one of the absolute best sources of the sunshine vitamin!
Although the meaty texture of a grilled portabella mushroom might have you thinking it was a high-fat food, that couldn't be further from the truth.
A four-ounce portabella cap only provides 42 calories and 1 gram of fat, while simultaneously delivering 3 grams of fiber, 31% of our daily selenium needs, and 18% of the potassium and phosphorus we should be getting each day.
Selenium is one mineral -- and antioxidant -- you want to make sure your body is getting, since it works alongside vitamin E to cut down on cell damage caused by free radicals.
If you prefer shiitake mushrooms, consider that one cup of these cooked veggies contains a mere 81 calories and also provides 3 grams of fiber, 13% of our recommended daily intake of zinc, and half a day's worth of selenium.
Coincidentally, it is the white button variety that has become the vegetable world's hot button player.
Recent microcellular research has concluded that if a serving (half a cup) of these unique-shaped mushrooms is exposed to five minutes of ultraviolet light after being harvested, they become vitamin D powerhouses, providing 869 percent of the daily recommended intake!
This is a huge development, considering that recent estimates classify two thirds of adults in the United States as Vitamin D deficient.
That number does strike me as absurdly high, though. If consumed in a consistent basis, such a large amount of vitamin D can cause nausea, kidney failure, and hypertension.
Hopefully, they can find a way to expose this vegetable to UV light for a shorter amount of time and get them to provide a much more reasonable 75 to 100 percent of the sunshine vitamin.
In the meantime, don't fear fungus. Add it to salads, stir fries, or even as a topping on a soy burger (throw in some pesto, grilled onions and grilled peppers on that soy burger, too -- you'll thank me later.)