Mushrooms as the most cost-effective source of protein for anyone in Rwanda, one that will provide many Rwandans with opportunities of livelihood earn a new income and a healthier diet, simultaneously tackling food insecurity and malnutrition.
Mushrooms are good sources of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, often exceeding levels registered in most widely consumed cereal staples. They have been widely advocated for inclusion in human nutrition in the tropical rural areas and especially where cereals or pulses are staples and meat may be rare or too expensive for a greater portion of the population. For example, UNICEF in 1990 recommended a wide inclusion of mushrooms in the diets as a strategy for fighting child malnutrition in some parts of Tanzania.
In terms of the amount of crude protein, mushrooms rank below meat, but well above most other foods, including milk, which is a staple of the Rwandan diet. More importantly, mushroom protein contains all the nine essential amino acids that are required by man but cannot be synthesized by the human body. In addition, mushrooms are a relatively good source of phosphorus, iron and vitamins including thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. They are low in calories, carbohydrates and calcium. Mushrooms also contain a high proportion of unsaturated fat.
The Health Benefits
- Mushrooms can be added to everyday dishes to provide an extra serving of vegetables and deliver important nutrients like B vitamins, vitamin D, potassium and antioxidants.
- Mushrooms are the leading source of the essential antioxidant selenium.
- Mushrooms provide ergothioneine, a naturally occurring antioxidant that may help protect the body’s cells.
- Mushrooms are the only source of vitamin D in the vegetable department.
- Mushrooms are unique for their umami content, meaning a “savoury” or meaty” flavour.