The food of the future: what are the benefits of eating mushrooms


Among its properties, its high protein content and its contribution of essential amino acids stand out, according to Mexican experts.

The Aztec legend tells that every night, the God Nanacatzin – a name that in Nahuatl means ‘sacred meat’ – used his power to make a sacred food emerge from the humid earth: the nanacatl. Today is known as “mushroom”.

In pre-Hispanic civilizations, this eukaryotic organism, which contained stimulating, medicinal, and hallucinogenic properties, was used as a consumption ingredient in the daily diet, but it was also used in religious rituals and divination performed by shamans.

According to the doctor in anthropology, Yolotl González Torres, the Mexica used toxic mushrooms “in rites dedicated to the gods in shamanic ceremonies, and at banquets for merchants and lords.” Because of their unpleasant taste, they were accompanied by a cocoa and honey drink; and afterward, they suffered visions and fell into a trance.

Then, in addition to nanácatl, this food was known as “little flowers”, or “little flowers of the gods”. Due to their high nutritional value, they habitually ingested species that were harmless to health, such as huitlacoche, black fungi parasitic on corn, tlapalnanacame, or iztlananacame; and they considered them a favorite ingredient in their diet.

For many experts, nanácatl, so highly appreciated in pre-Hispanic times, could become the food of the future in the coming decades. This is explained by Elvira Aguirre Acosta, Master of Science, and in charge of the Collection of Fungi of the National Herbarium of Mexico of the Institute of Biology of UNAM.

According to the researcher, due to their properties, these organisms will occupy a fundamental place in our nutrition. Each mushroom contains around 40% dry matter, and of this percentage, 20% are proteins. The remaining 60% is water. In addition, they provide fats, vitamins and minerals.

Why is it considered the food of the future?

(Photo: Pixabay)

(Photo: Pixabay)

In his study “Mushrooms … Food of the Future”, Miguel Armando López Ramírez, a Biologist at the Institute of Forestry Research of the Veracruzana University, indicated that the consumption species of the Fungi family are an invaluable source of high-quality proteins.

“Mushrooms have a protein content ranging from 20 to 40% of their dry weight (depending on the species, substrate, or type of cultivation practiced). Such an amount of protein places them above most of the vegetables, fruits, and vegetables that we consume in our diet. Mushroom proteins are also considered of high quality, due to the amount of essential amino acids that constitute them (from 16 to 21 amino acids), taking into account the daily human need to acquire 21 essential amino acids in food, necessary to maintain our body nourished and nourished properly, “he explained in his research.

In addition, the expert pointed out, they provide vitamins such as B1, B12, ascorbic acid and vitamin D; and also, essential minerals in our daily diet, such as Calcium and Phosphorus. At the same time, its low calorie, fat, and carbohydrate content make it a perfect ingredient.

“They are a nutritious and low-calorie food, that is, the ideal type of food to be well fed and in good physical shape.”

According to López Ramiro, the properties and multiple benefits of mushrooms make them one of the foods of the future. And to this is added the possibility of genetically modifying them in a laboratory. And it is that biotechnologists can shorten the cultivation periods by developing fast-growing strains.

Through genetic manipulation, they can also change their size, and make each mushroom larger, increase the amount of protein, and develop strains resistant to extreme temperatures, so that the cultivation can be controlled throughout the year, regardless. of the weather.

If we add the fact that industrial livestock is responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse emissions, in addition to other toxic effects for the environment, such as the release of ammonia, it is necessary to look for foods that offer a high protein value and reduce meat consumption.

The most sought-after species of fungi for human consumption

(Photo: Science UNAM)

(Photo: Science UNAM)

According to the UNAM, these are the most sought-after species of fungus in nature for human consumption, and which therefore have a higher risk of becoming extinct:

– Amanita Caesarea: commonly known as “oronjita”, “king’s egg” or “egg yolk”. It grows especially in the warm regions of the southernmost parts of Europe. It develops in summer and autumn.

– Amanita rubescens: in Mexico it is also called “mantequera”, “mantecoso”, “vennado” or “juandiego”. His hat is globose when he is young, at maturity, it flattens and turns reddish in color, with the hue of wine.

– Agaricus campestris: grows in the spring and autumn seasons, in lowland grasslands or fields abandoned by livestock. It is very frequent and abundant.

– Boletus aereus: it is found in deciduous trees, such as chestnut, oak, or beech, as well as in holm oaks and cork oaks. It is a highly coveted species.


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