Their specific health benefits vary depending on the type of mushroom. But in general, they share a number of key attributes:
Mushroom Nutrition Facts
- B-Vitamins: Mushrooms are a source of B vitamins, including thiamine, riboflavin, B-6, and B-12. B vitamins help your body convert the food you eat into energy, so when we’re getting an adequate amount of them, the result is we feel more energetic and less lethargic.
- Selenium: Selenium is an essential mineral that acts as a powerful antioxidant and supports the immune system. Research shows getting an adequate amount of selenium may reduce the risk of certain cancers (1), slow cognitive decline (2, 3, 4), and prevent heart disease. (5)
- Beta-Glucan: Beta-glucan is a form of soluble dietary fiber that may help lower cholesterol (6), improve blood sugar management (7), and support the immune system. (8)
- Vitamin D: Mushrooms are the only plant-based food source that naturally contains Vitamin D, which supports a healthy immune system and helps build and maintain strong bones. Learn how to easily maximize the Vitamin D level of your mushrooms, to hit your daily recommended intake in just one cup of mushrooms.
Mushroom Health Benefits
- Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Mushrooms, despite their dull white or brown color, are an excellent source of antioxidants. In fact, they generally contain just as many, if not more, antioxidants than more colorful fruits and veggies. For example, researchers at Penn State found that simple and inexpensive white button mushrooms have more antioxidant capacity than tomatoes, green peppers, pumpkins, zucchini, carrots, or green beans. (9)
- Protects The Brain & Boosts Memory: A 2017 Penn State study found that mushrooms contain a high concentration of two powerful antioxidants, ergothioneine and glutathione. These fight free radicals and may protect against neurodegenerative diseases. Porcini mushrooms had the highest concentrations of these antioxidants but even common white button mushrooms contain them. Researchers recommended having at least 5 button mushrooms a day to get the benefits. (10)
- Supports Immune System: Mushrooms have long been regarded as an immune tonic. They have the ability to both stimulate and regulate the immune system. Additionally, they act as prebiotics which strengthens the gut, which further benefits the immune system. (11)
- May Reduce Risk of & Help Fight Certain Cancers: Many human studies have suggested that mushrooms may help stimulate the immune system of cancer patients and may slow tumor growth. (12) The first long-term cohort study of more than 36,000 Japanese men over decades suggests an association between eating mushrooms and a lower risk of prostate cancer.
- Protects Against Cardiovascular Disease: Research shows shiitake mushrooms protect against cardiovascular disease, through improved regulation of blood pressure. They also contain sulfur compounds that support cardiovascular function, including the degree to which our platelet cells clump together.
- Weight Loss: Mushrooms are low in calories, yet filling, thanks to their fiber and protein content, making them an excellent food to add to your plate when trying to lose weight. A cup of sliced stir-fried white button mushrooms contains just 28 calories, nearly 4 grams of protein, and 2 g of fiber.
How to Store Mushrooms
Store loose mushrooms in paper bags instead of plastic to extend shelf life.
How to Prepare Mushrooms
There are many different ways to prepare mushrooms. Research shows grilling or microwaving retains maximum nutrition and antioxidants. However, lightly sautéing or roasting is still nutritious and may be more convenient or tasty.
Healthy Mushroom Recipes
- Shiitake Brown Rice: This 2-ingredient Shiitake Brown Rice makes for an easy side dish. Simply add 1-2 handfuls of sliced mushrooms to the pot when cooking rice.
- Cream Of Mushroom Soup: A simple, dairy-free recipe in which mushrooms are the star. The creaminess comes from cauliflower, and it’s seasoned generously with Herbes de Provence.
- Fall Pasta Salad: This quick and easy fall pasta salad recipe is perfect for an autumn weeknight.
- Mushroom Bolognese: Chopped mushrooms add flavor and bulk to your bolognese. As seen on The Doctors TV show on CBS.
How do you like to prepare mushrooms?