Article by: Hari Yellina
Mushrooms may be the “missing link” in bridging Australia’s food and nutrition disparities. Nutrition Research Australia (NRAUS) is working to discover nutrition issues in the food service sector of the Australian food industry, and mushrooms are being used to help. The Australian Mushroom Growers Association is in charge of the three-year research project, which is financed by Hort Innovation. The mushrooms have unique nutritional and gastronomic features, according to NRAUS CEO Dr. Flavia Fayet-Moore, making them valuable commodities in the nation’s food supply.
“Mushrooms are neither a plant nor an animal; they are fungi, and they have a really unique collection of nutrients that are generally found only in grains, vegetables, or animals—nutrients like vitamin D,” Dr. Fayet-Moore explained. “The data is unequivocal, and increasing mushroom consumption through the food chain could lead to a number of health benefits for Australians.”
The goal of the study is to connect with organisations and sectors of influence like as hospitals, aged care, quick service restaurants, and food producers in order to discover opportunities for Australian mushrooms to be featured in menus and so enhance health outcomes. “Through this project, we will engage with and educate food industry professionals about the nutritional and health benefits of mushrooms, as well as encourage the food service sector to use fresh mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) on menus to improve not only their nutritional profile, but also their taste,” Dr Fayet-Moore said. This could be a simple and effective technique for improving Australians’ health.
One of the nutritional issues the team believes mushrooms can help with is vitamin D insufficiency, which affects one in every four Australians, especially those who spend the majority of their time inside. If left untreated, vitamin D deficiency can cause serious health problems. According to Dr. Fayet-Moore, “research reveals that many residents in aged care facilities have insufficient vitamin D.” By simply incorporating sun-exposed mushrooms in elderly care menus, it is possible to increase vitamin D intake and perhaps solve a critical nutritional problem in these facilities. The team will also collaborate with culinary instructors, such as TAFEs, to integrate mushroom nutrition instruction into curriculums, assisting in the education of the food service industry at the grassroots level.