The mushroom is a bit of a mystery. They have various shapes and appearances, most often resembling a stocky umbrella. Some are poisonous, but most are safe to eat. To the touch, they can be rough or smooth. And on the color spectrum, they jump all over, ranging from white to reddish-brown. But despite all the varied appearances, textures, tastes, and colors, there is one thing that is consistent about this strange little vegetable (or fungus to be more accurate).\nIt’s packed full of powerful nutrients. Because mushrooms offer an excellent variety of vitamins that can benefit your health, they’ve become quite easy to work into a variety of meals throughout the day. It’s no wonder that Nintendo\u00ae chose the mushroom as the one thing that turns plain old Mario, into…Super Mario.\nNow, one mushroom won’t make that much of a difference in the real world, but at least Nintendo was on the right track. Adding fresh mushrooms to your everyday meals can help you load up on essential proteins, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antibiotics, and antioxidants. Here are just a few of the nutritional benefits of mushrooms:\n\n\nLow Calorie\nOne cup of mushrooms contains only 20 calories, which help maintain your waistline. They are also fat-free, cholesterol-free, and very low in sodium.\n\nHigh in Vitamin D\nA rarity to find in vegetables, this vitamin can facilitate the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorous, another key nutrient contained in mushrooms.\n\nExcellent Source of Copper and Phosphorus\nCopper helps form collagen, a protein that keeps your bones from becoming brittle, and also aids in energy production. Phosphorus aids in protein development and growth, maintenance, and repair of cells and tissues.\n\nHigh in Selenium\nMushrooms contain antioxidants, like selenium, which protect body cells from damage that might lead to chronic diseases. They also help to strengthen the immune system.\n\nGood Source of B Vitamins\nMushrooms contain essential B vitamins riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid, which help to provide energy by breaking down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.\n\nHigh in Potassium\nThis mineral aids in the maintenance of normal fluid and mineral balance, which helps control blood pressure.\n\nPreparation tips\nDon’t be afraid to add mushrooms to your meals. These preparation tips will continue to help you get the most out of this power-packed vegetable:\n\nCook the mushrooms to release more nutrients. Try grilling, stir-frying, and saut\u00e9ing to limit fat.\nThey can be refrigerated in a paper bag for up to one week, but they’re best used within a few days.\nRoasting them will bring out their natural sweetness.\nBe sure to thoroughly clean them before eating, as they tend to store dirt in their crevices.\n\nA Delicious Mushroom Recipe\nFettuccine in Creamy Mushroom and Sage Sauce Recipe\nTry this vegetarian recipe dish that you can put on the table in 30 minutes. (Ingredients and directions intended for two servings)\nPrep Time: 10 minutes\nCook Time: 20 minutes\nIngredients:\n\n8 ounces spinach fettuccine pasta\n1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil\n1 shallot, chopped\n1 clove garlic, chopped\n4 ounces chopped fresh oyster mushrooms\n\u00bd cup heavy cream\n1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage\nSalt and pepper to taste\n\nDirections\n\nBring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente; drain.\nHeat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and cook shallots and garlic until transparent. Stir in mushrooms, and cook until tender. Mix in heavy cream and sage. Cook and stir until thickened.\nToss sauce with cooked fettuccine, and season with salt and pepper to serve.\n\nWhether you’re adding mushrooms to a salad, tossing them in a tasty pasta dish or saut\u00e9ing them alongside various other vegetables, they’re a great way to receive nutrients that are necessary in your daily diet.