According to Jennifer Ntende, a researcher in plant microbiology at Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI), there are more than 100,000 species and varieties of mushrooms but not all are edible.
Ntende says the types of edible mushrooms in Uganda include the common oyster, white button (agaricus bisporus) and porcini mushrooms as well as other varieties like reishi, lions mane, cordyceps, shitake, maitake, honey and Chagga mushrooms which are very medicinal and healthy.
There are also many species like death cap mushroom that are not edible and can actually be poisonous.
It is, therefore, important that you take caution when you come across any mushroom that you are not familiar with. Not all mushrooms are safe for consumption.
Mushrooms boost immune function by increasing the production of antiviral, antibacterial, anti-allergy and anti-inflammatory properties which protect and repair the body’s tissues.
According to Dr Paul Kasenene, a nutritionist at Wellcare Centre Bugolobi, they are one of the best foods to boost immunity and prevent infections.
In fact, some common medications like penicillin have extracts from mushrooms.
Most mushroom varieties contain Selenium which has a significant protective effect mainly among women. These can be dried to form a powder which can be used as porridge, soup, and sprinkle on salads for medicinal purposes.
“The mineral, says Ntende, is important for maintaining the reproductive system health, DNA production and thyroid gland function.”
The white button mushrooms for example contain phytochemicals which inhibit breast cancer.
Mushrooms are known to boost body immunity because they fight free radical damage in the body that could lead to serious health conditions like heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. Other benefits include; cancer fighting, weightloss, and are sources of Vitamin D.