Abstract (as presented by the authors of the scientific work):
"Mushrooms have been consumed since earliest history; ancient Greeks believed that mushrooms provided strength for warriors in battle, and the Romans perceived them as the "Food of the Gods." For centuries, the Chinese culture has treasured mushrooms as a health food, an "elixir of life." They have been part of the human culture for thousands of years and have considerable interest in the most important civilizations in history because of their sensory characteristics; they have been recognized for their attractive culinary attributes. Nowadays, mushrooms are popular valuable foods because they are low in calories, carbohydrates, fat, and sodium: also, they are cholesterol-free. Besides, mushrooms provide important nutrients, including selenium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin D, proteins, and fiber. All together with a long history as food source, mushrooms are important for their healing capacities and properties in traditional medicine. It has reported beneficial effects for health and treatment of some diseases. Many nutraceutical properties are described in mushrooms, such as prevention or treatment of Parkinson, Alzheimer, hypertension, and high risk of stroke. They are also utilized to reduce the likelihood of cancer invasion and metastasis due to antitumoral attributes. Mushrooms act as antibacterial, immune system enhancer and cholesterol lowering agents; additionally, they are important sources of bioactive compounds. As a result of these properties, some mushroom extracts are used to promote human health and are found as dietary supplements."
"Several mushroom species have been pointed out as sources of bioactive compounds, in addition to their important nutritional value. The inclusion of whole mushrooms into the diet may have efficacy as potential dietary supplements.
The production of mushrooms and the extraction of bioactive metabolites is a key feature for the development of efficient biotechnological methods to obtain these metabolites. It has been shown by a wide range of studies that mushrooms contain components with outstanding properties to prevent or treat different type of diseases.
Powder formulations of some species have revealed the presence of essential nutrients. They present a low fat content and can be used in low-calorie diets, just like the mushrooms fruiting bodies. Some formulations could be used as antioxidants to prevent oxidative stress and thus ageing.
Future studies into the mechanisms of action of mushroom extracts will help us to further delineate the interesting roles and properties of various mushroom phytochemicals in the prevention and treatment of some degenerative diseases.
In view of the current situation, the research of bioactive components in edible wild and cultivated mushrooms is yet deficient. There are numerous potential characteristics and old and novel properties, provided by mushrooms with nutraceutical and health benefits, which deserve further investigations."
Prof. Atanas G. Atanasov (Dr. habil., PhD)