What are the health benefits of mushrooms?

Mushrooms are a type of edible fungus that can provide a variety of nutrients. The nutritional profiles and compositions of the various types of mushrooms differ.

From puffballs to truffles, mushrooms may be inexpensive or expensive delicacies. They can be purchased fresh, canned, or dried.

According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, each individual in the United States consumed approximately 3 pounds of mushrooms in 2015.

Mushrooms are used in certain forms of herbal medicine in addition to the diet.

Read about the nutritional value of mushrooms as well as their potential health benefits in this article. We also go into how to prepare and serve them, as well as the dangers.

Benefits

mushrooms
Mushrooms contain protein, vitamins, and minerals that may be beneficial to one’s health.

Nutrition, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are all present in mushrooms. These can provide a variety of health benefits.

Antioxidants, for example, are chemicals that assist in the reduction of free radicals in the body.

Toxic byproducts of digestion and other bodily processes are free radicals. They will build up in the body, causing oxidative stress if there are too many. This can affect the body’s cells and lead to a variety of health problems.

Antioxidants present in mushrooms include:

  • selenium
  • vitamin C
  • choline

Learn more about antioxidants here.

Cancer

According to the National Cancer Institute, mushrooms’ antioxidant content can help prevent lung, prostate, breast, and other types of cancer.

While some sources believe that selenium can help prevent cancer, a 2017 Cochrane review found no evidence to support this claim.

Mushrooms have a small amount of vitamin D in them as well. According to a 2018 study, there is some evidence that vitamin D supplementation may help prevent or treat some types of cancer, though the impact may differ from person to person.

Another antioxidant contained in mushrooms is choline. Consuming choline has been shown in some studies to minimize the risk of some cancers, but it has also been shown in at least one other study to raise the risk of prostate cancer.

It’s important to note that taking a nutrient as a supplement is not the same as eating it.

Diabetes

Dietary fiber can aid in the management of a variety of health problems, including type 2 diabetes.

According to a meta-analysis published in 2018, people who consume a lot of fiber have a lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes. Fiber can aid in the reduction of blood glucose levels in those who already have it.

A cup of raw, sliced mushrooms with a weight of 70 grams (g) contains almost 1 gram of fiber.

Adults can eat 22.4–33.6 g of dietary fiber per day, depending on their sex and age, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Mushrooms, beans, some tomatoes, brown rice, and whole-grain foods can all help a person meet his or her daily fiber needs.

Heart health

Mushrooms contain fiber, potassium, and vitamin C, which can help with cardiovascular health.

Potassium may aid in blood pressure regulation, potentially lowering the risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends cutting back on added salt and increasing potassium-rich foods in the diet.

Potassium intake should be about 4,700 milligrams (mg) per day, according to current recommendations. Mushrooms are on the American Heart Association’s list of potassium-rich foods.

According to a 2016 study, people who are deficient in vitamin C are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, and that consuming vitamin C can help prevent this illness. Vitamin C supplements do not seem to minimize the risk of this disease, according to the researchers.

There is some evidence that eating beta-glucans, a form of fiber, can help lower blood cholesterol levels. Many varieties of mushrooms have beta-glucans in their cell walls.

Beta-glucans are abundant in the stems of shiitake mushrooms.

In pregnancy

Many pregnant women take folic acid, or folate, supplements to help their fetuses thrive, but mushrooms may also provide folate.

16.3 micrograms (mcg) of folate are contained in a cup of whole, fresh mushrooms. Adults can get 400 micrograms of folate a day, according to current recommendations.

Other benefits

B vitamins are abundant in mushrooms, including:

  • riboflavin, or B-2
  • folate, or B-9
  • thiamine, or B-1
  • pantothenic acid, or B-5
  • niacin, or B-3

B vitamins assist the body in obtaining nutrition from food and in the formation of red blood cells. A variety of B vitamins tend to be essential for brain health.

Mushrooms contain choline, which can assist muscle coordination, learning, and memory. Choline aids in the maintenance of cellular membrane structure and is involved in nerve impulse transmission.

Mushrooms are also the only non-fortified vegan vitamin D source.

Other minerals, such as selenium, potassium, copper, iron, and phosphorus, that are difficult to come by in a vegan diet can be found in mushrooms.

Nutritional value

Many different types of mushrooms are edible, and regardless of their shape or size, they all have about the same amount of nutrients per serving.

A 96-g cup of whole, raw mushrooms contains how much of each nutrient mentioned in the table below. It also indicates how much of each nutrient adults can consume on a daily basis, based on their gender and age.

NutrientAmount of nutrient in 1 cup of mushroomsRecommended daily intake
Energy (calories)21.11,600–3,200
Protein (g)3.046–56
Carbohydrate (g)3.1, including 1.9 g of sugar130
Calcium (mg)2.91,000–1,300
Iron (mg)0.58–18
Magnesium (mg)8.6310–420
Phosphorus (mg)82.6700–1,250
Potassium (mg)3054,700
Sodium (mg)4.82,300
Zinc (mg)0.58–11
Copper (mcg)305890–900
Selenium (mcg)8.955
Vitamin C (mg)2.065–90
Vitamin D (mg)0.215
Folate (mcg DFE)16.3400
Choline (mg)16.6400–550
Niacin (mg)3.514–16

Mushrooms also contain thiamine, riboflavin, B-6, and B-12, among other B vitamins.

Tips for preparing mushrooms

There are over 2,000 edible mushroom types, but only a few are available in the United States.

They include:

  • white, or “button”
  • brown cremini
  • portobello
  • shiitake
  • oyster
  • wood ear
  • enoki

Seasonal varieties available at farmer’s markets and some grocery stores include:

  • morel
  • chanterelle

Some people gather wild mushrooms, but it’s important to know which ones are edible because some contain toxic substances.

Tips for buying

Choose firm, dry, and unbruised mushrooms when purchasing fresh mushrooms. Mushrooms that look slimy or withered should be avoided.

Mushrooms should be kept in the refrigerator. They should not be washed or trimmed until they are ready to be cooked with.

Tips for serving

The Environmental Working Group, which evaluates foods for pesticide content, included mushrooms grown in the United States on its 2019 list of the 15 cleanest foods, referring to pesticide traces that are relatively minimal.

However, before using them, people should wash and clean them thoroughly to prevent any dirt and grit. Trim the ends of the stalks if possible. Mushrooms may be used whole, sliced, or diced.

To get more mushrooms in your diet, try these recipes:

  • sauteing any type of mushroom with onions for a quick, tasty side dish
  • adding mushrooms to stir-fries
  • topping a salad with raw, sliced cremini or white mushrooms
  • stuffing and baking portobello mushrooms
  • adding sliced mushrooms to omelets, breakfast scrambles, pizzas, and quiches
  • sauteing shiitake mushrooms in olive oil or broth for a healthful side dish
  • removing the stems of portobello mushrooms, marinating the caps in a mixture of olive oil, onion, garlic, and vinegar for 1 hour, then grilling them for 10 minutes
  • adding grilled portobello mushrooms to sandwiches or wraps

To prepare dried mushrooms, boil them for several hours in water until they are soft.

Health risks

While wild mushrooms make a tasty meal, the toxins found in some of them can cause serious health problems. Heavy metals and other dangerous chemicals can be present in high concentrations in some wild mushrooms.

Just eat mushrooms from a trusted source to avoid these threats.

Conclusion

Mushrooms are a nutritious addition to any diet. They’re simple to make and have a variety of nutrients.

Since certain mushrooms are poisonous, people can only consume them from a reputable source.

Sources

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