Agrocybe Aegerita (Chestnut Mushroom, Velvet Pioppino, Agrocybe Cylindracea, Yanagimatsutake, Zhuzhuang-Tiantougu)
Agrocybe Aegerita is a species of mushroom that belongs to the white rot fungi but looks like the button mushroom, only darker. It has gills whose colour ranges from pink to dark brown. Hence the mushroom is sometimes referred to as ‘brown cap mushroom’. It behaves almost the same as some other species of mushroom like the Tricholomamatsutake,, Agrocybe Aegerita and Agrocybeparasitica.
This genus of mushroom has about 100 species spread all over the world with some of them deadly poisonous. Since some of the species look very much alike, only an experienced person can safely identify the edible ones. The chestnut is tasty and meaty, and is palatable whether raw or cooked. Nevertheless, if you are not a trained eye, it is better to leave mushroom picking alone and respect the wisdom of the Croatian proverb: ‘All mushrooms are edible, but some only once’. An example of a very poisonous mushroom is the Amanita.
Cultivation of the chestnut began with the Greeks and the Romans and before that they collected truffles. In their traditional beliefs, mushroom emerged when lightning struck. Today, however, the chestnut is farmed and marketed in Korea, Japan, China and Australia. The Chestnut is medium sized and has an open and convex shaped cap. Underneath the cap are numerous radial plates that are white in colour. They later turn brownish grey. Sometimes it looks flat with a diameter of 3-10 cm. It is also referred to as the Poplar mushroom, possibly because it grows in holes on the poplar tree. However, it also grows in clusters on logs an on other trees with large leaves.
The Chestnut as a Dish
The Chestnut has a strong taste and fits well in different dishes. It goes in sauces, salads, pasta, quiches, soups, casseroles, omelettes, among others.
Fresh foods lose their flavour and nutritional value if not kept properly. This preservation of nutrients is paramount especially because many of the elements in the mushroom have medicinal value. When taken in food, the medicinal elements ensure various ailments are kept at arm’s length and the consumer leads a relatively healthy life.
How to store the Chestnut
To ensure the Chestnut mushroom retains its flavour, its nutritional value and edibility, it needs to be well washed, towel dried, kept in a fridge. The ideal length of storage is 3 days. The mushroom should not be wrapped in a plastic bag. If that happens, it will begin to sweat and start going bad in no time.
Keep in a paper bag in the fridge for up to 3 days. Do not store them in a plastic bag because they will sweat and quickly spoil.
What are the nutrients in the Agrocybe Aegeritamushroom?
This mushroom contains vitamins, phytochemicals and minerals. It is particularly rich in Copper and Pantothenic acid which is Vitamin B5. The Chestnut also contains Folate, Biotin, Niacin or Vitamin B3, Selenium, Potassium and Riboflavin or Vitamin B2.
To help a person assess the calorie and fat intake in order to regulate weight amid other reasons, here is a general breakdown of the Chestnut content:
Nutritional and Calorie Values for 100 grams of Chestnut Mushroom
Therapeutic impact of the Chestnut
Traditionally, the Chinese used the Agrocybe Aegerita for the wellbeing of the stomach. It also ensured that the spleen was well nourished. The Chinese also used the mushroom to keep the kidneys working properly.
This mushroom is also recognised in present day science as having anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibiotic and anti-tumour properties. It is said to contain compounds with prohibitive properties against the cyclooxygenaseenzyme, which medications such as target of Adril, Tylenol, and others try to fight too.
The Chest Mushroom is valuable in the provision of bioactive secondary metabolites. These metabolites include Cylindan which has anti-cancer properties, agrocybenine with antifungal properties, and indole derivatives which are able to hunt down free radicals. These antioxidants also suppress the absorption of cholesterol. By inhibiting the production of the enzymes Aromatase and 5 alpha reductase, these antioxidants prevent prostate and breast cancer.
The anti-cancer properties of the Chestnut are detailed in the 2009 book Biotechnology in China I: From Bioreaction to Bioseparation and Bioremediation, a joint venture of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Shanghai Jiao Tong University and the Dalian University of Technology.
Also according to BobekP, Galbavy S (2001), “Effect of pleuran (beta-glucan from Pleurotusostreatus) on the antioxidant status of the organism and on dimethylhydrazine – induced precancerous lesions in rat colon”, Agrocybe Aegeritais able to fight against cancer through its natural properties.
The Chestnut Mushroom is also hailed as being able to slow down the effects of osteoporosis, some of which are weakening of the vertebrae. Its antiseptic properties also help keep the body free of infection
Chestnut mushrooms are commonly cultivated and sold in countries like the US, Japan, China, Korea, Australia, and Chile. In China, the chestnut mushroom is sometimes called the “magic mushroom of China.”
The Chinese use this type of mushroom to cure different types of ailments including headaches and fever. Chestnut mushrooms can be found growing on poplar, Oak, Cottonwood, Maple, Willow, Box Elder, Tea-Oil trees.
Why are chestnut mushrooms so healthy?
Because of their amazing nutritional value. Chestnut mushrooms are a super-dense source of nutritious phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals. Surprisingly, they have even more of these copper, selenium, protein, and potassium than medicinal shiitake mushrooms.
The active compounds of a chestnut mushroom include:
- methyl-β-d-glucopyranoside and α-d-glucopyranoside
- linoleic acid
- methyl ester
- palmitic acid
- vitamin B2, B3, and B5
Besides lending a unique taste to your meal, chestnut mushrooms also provide various health and medicinal benefits.
Health Benefits of Chestnut Mushrooms
- anti-tumor properties
- anti-inflammatory properties
- anti-fungal properties
- slows down osteoporosis
- contains high amounts of vitamins and minerals
The anti-tumor properties of the chestnut mushroom can make for a very promising medicine that can be used to reduce the development of stomach and breast diseases.
Studies have shown that some of the properties of the fruiting bodies of chestnut mushrooms were able to inhibit the proliferation of these human disease cells by up to 26% for stomach diseases and 23% for breast diseases.
Further studies are still being done as most of the tests are only done in laboratory testing facilities. This anti-tumor property of the chestnut mushroom is especially important since it’s not usually found in other plant or animal species.
Another benefit of the chestnut mushroom is its anti-inflammatory properties. The cyclooxygenase enzymes COX-1 and COX-2 are responsible for 2 very important bodily functions.
The COX-1 is the one regulating the body’s homeostatic functions, while the COX-2 handles the formation of prostaglandins that mediate pain and inflammation.
Compounds contained within chestnut mushrooms have been found to be able to safely regulate inflammation by inhibiting the COX-2 enzyme without affecting other important bodily functions.
Some modern painkillers are able to stop inflammation, but the potential side effects make their use prohibitive to some. Replacing these medicines with chestnut mushrooms can give some of the painkilling abilities without the unwanted side effects.
The fruiting bodies of chestnut mushroom also contain huge amounts of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B2, B3, and B5. It also contains biotin, potassium, selenium, copper, and folate.
The vitamin B2 content of most mushrooms is generally greater than those found in some vegetables. Chestnut mushrooms also contain high levels of anti-oxidant properties that fight free radicals in the body.
They also help lower cholesterol as they contain very little fat and have high amounts of fiber. Adding chestnut mushrooms to your daily diet can considerably lower your cholesterol and prevent cardiovascular diseases from advancing.
The chestnut mushroom has a lot of promising medicinal properties that can potentially cure the toughest diseases. Scientists have been continuously studying and discovering how chestnut mushrooms could help fight several diseases and they still have a long way to go.
This should not stop you from adding a few slices of this delicious mushroom to your meal. The health benefits of the fruiting bodies of chestnut mushrooms are not limited to disease-fighting alone. It is a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals too.