Mushrooms Needs to be Cooked
All mushrooms needs to be cooked before eating. The raw sliced white button mushroom that they sometimes put in salads are not really digestible. Mushrooms are a nutritious food. But they have thick cell walls that our digestive system can not break down easily. In order for the body to digest them and extract it beneficial nutrients, it needs to be cooked to break down their cell walls.
Dr. Andrew Weil loves Asian mushrooms and you can eat as much as those as you like provided that they are cooked. You can see this mushroom category in his anti-inflammatory diet pyramid.
But he advises against eating too much cultivated white button mushrooms that you often see in the supermarket because it contains a small amount of natural carcinogens that are not found in other mushrooms. Although how harmful they are is unknown. He writes on his website ...
"If you do eat these varieties, never eat them raw and cook them thoroughly over high heat; that will break down some of the toxins."
Also within the same species as the button mushrooms are the Portobello and Crimini mushrooms. Rather, he prefers shitake, cordyceps, enoki, maitake, and reishi.
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Carcinogenic Hydrazine in Certain Mushrooms
Dr. Donald Abrams's talk on Nutrition and Cancer says similarly that all mushrooms needs to be cooked. And that button mushrooms contain a component call hydrazine that is used in rocket fuel.
MykoWeb says that not only does cooking help break down the hard to digest cell wall, it releases the nutrients. In addition ....
"many mushrooms considered edible contain irritating or toxic components readily destroyed or eliminated by cooking. ... Buttons, and many other edible mushrooms contain various hydrazines, a group of chemical compounds generally considered carcinogenic."
Wikipedia says that "Hydrazine was first used as a rocket fuel during World War II". Wikipedia provides the chemical structure and further says ...
"gyromitrin and agaritine are hydrazine derivatives found in the commercially produced mushroom species Agaricus bisporus. Gyromitrin is metabolized into monomethyl hydrazine."
Even if a certain type of mushroom does not contain carcinogen, mushroom comes from the ground and can be contaminated by environmental and microbial toxins.
In the book UltraPrevention, it says that hydrazine is a known carcinogen found in raw mushrooms. The authors recommend that people cook them. Mushrooms are just as good cooked. [page 244]
Don't Eat Raw Mushroom
Unlike certain other fruits and vegetables which can be more nutritious when raw, mushrooms should never be eaten raw (no matter what type of mushroom they are). The possible exception is that if you are a mushroom expert and really know what you are doing and know exactly where and how the mushroom was grown and come from. Of course, then there are certain poisonous mushrooms that can not be eaten at all -- cooked or otherwise.
Joel Fuhrman says in his book Super Immunity that mushrooms help reduce risk of cancer and boost immunity. However he does warn ...
"mushrooms should always be consumed cooked, since some studies have reported toxic effects of raw mushrooms in animal studies" [page 74]
This article was written January 2012 and is only opinion at the time of writing. This is not to discourage anyone from eating button mushrooms. But to point out that it needs to be cooked.