If you eat mushrooms, then according to Romans, you’re eating the “Food of the Gods.” Even ancient Greeks believed that mushrooms provided strength to their warriors in battle and for centuries, and the Chinese have considered mushrooms as an elixir of life.
Besides being a versatile food that can be used in a variety of dishes, mushrooms have also been used for their medicinal properties. From children to adults, from vegans to vegetarians to even non-vegetarians – everyone loves these tiny umbrella-shaped delicacies.
Keeping the aspect of taste aside, let’s look at the nutritional and health benefits of eating mushrooms.
Mushrooms That Are Commonly Used In Our Diet
Humans have been eating mushrooms for thousands of years mainly because of their palatability and unique flavors. But, today, mushrooms have become a highly sought-after food due to the extensive research on its chemical composition, which has the potential to combat diseases.1
Though there are about 10,000 species across the world, but only 2000 varieties of mushrooms are edible.
The most commonly eaten in the United States include,
- White button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus)
- Crimini or cremini mushroom
- Portabella or portabello mushroom
- Shiitake (Lentinus edodes)
- Straw (Volvariella volvacea)
- Oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus)
- Enoki (Flammulina ostreatus)
Nutritional Importance Of Mushrooms
Mushrooms are a good source of many nutrients and minerals that are necessary for a healthy body. The high levels of proteins, carbohydrates, and essential minerals found in many wild-grown mushrooms can even be compared with meat, eggs, and milk.
The carbohydrate content of mushrooms represents the bulk of fruiting bodies accounting for 50-65 percent on a dry weight basis. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy.2 Moreover, many carbohydrates also supply fiber, which can prevent stomach or intestinal problems, such as constipation. In addition, it may also help lower cholesterol and blood sugar. Eating mushrooms regularly can help overcome many digestive disorders while providing sufficient quantities of carbs.
Protein is an important constituent of dry matter of mushrooms. Mushrooms are important for vegans and vegetarians as they contain some essential amino acids, which are mostly found only in animal proteins. In general, mushrooms contain higher protein content than most other vegetables. In fact, they contain all the essential amino acids that an adult requires.3
3. Vitamins And Minerals
Mushrooms are one of the best sources of vitamins especially, vitamin B and C. Studies have shown that wild mushrooms contain much higher amounts of vitamin D2 than dark cultivated button mushrooms.
Crimini mushrooms are among the only natural food sources of vitamin D and many varieties of mushrooms are also rich sources of selenium, an antioxidant mineral. Vitamin D is crucial for immunity, bone metabolism, muscle function, cognition and mood outcomes.4
Major mineral constituents in mushrooms include copper, iron, niacin, potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous.
The fat content in mushrooms is very low when compared to carbohydrates and proteins. More importantly, the fats present in mushroom fruiting bodies are dominated by unsaturated fatty acids. These healthy fats have been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. This makes them a great choice for people who want to lose weight.
Mushrooms For Weight Loss
Mushrooms are a favorite choice for many people who want to lose weight as they are low in calories, carbohydrates, fat, and sodium, and they are cholesterol-free.5
Shiitake mushrooms are full of fat-fighting compounds.
Shiitake mushrooms are the second most popular and the third-most-widely cultivated edible mushroom in the world. They also contain β-glucan, which is a soluble dietary fiber. Studies have shown that β-glucan can increase satiety, reduce food intake, delay nutrition absorption, and reduce plasma lipid levels.
Fungal β-glucans are extremely beneficial to humans as they stimulate the human immune system and protect from pathogenic microbes. They safeguard us from the harmful effects of environmental toxins and carcinogens that impair our immune system. Besides protecting us from infectious diseases and cancer, they also help patients recover from chemotherapy and radiotherapy.6
Many studies have shown that mushrooms have a positive effect on weight loss. One study conducted on rats in a high-fat diet showed a decrease in body weight gain by 53 percent by adding 2 percent extracts of Agaricus blazei mushroom in the diet for six weeks. Even adding Shiitake mushroom in a high-fat diet prevented body weight gain, fat deposition, and plasma triacylglycerol in rats.
How To Eat Mushrooms For Weight Loss
Include Mushrooms In Your Breakfast
Satiety or feeling full is a crucial aspect of a successful weight loss plan as frequent snacking due to hunger pangs can make it harder to shed the pounds. A recent study has found that including mushrooms into your daily breakfast could help you lose stubborn weight from your waistline.
The participants who ate mushrooms reported feeling fuller in an hour or so after the breakfast. But, this did not change their overall energy intake during the study period. The study also specified that mushrooms are higher in fiber than minced beef and fiber makes you feel more full.7
Substitute Red Meat With Mushrooms
Research shows that substituting red meat with mushrooms is a useful strategy for enhancing weight loss, weight maintenance, and health parameters.8 In this study, participants on the mushroom diet lost more pounds and percentage body weight, achieved lower body mass index, and waist circumference. After initial weight loss, the participants following the mushroom diet even maintained that loss effectively.
So, include button mushrooms, Shiitake mushrooms, oyster, and enoki mushrooms in your diet to avail its nutritional benefits and for weight loss.
|↑1, ↑3||Bilal Ahmad Wani, R. H. Bodha and A. H. Wani. Nutritional and medicinal importance of mushrooms. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research. 2010.|
|↑2||Important Nutrients to Know: Proteins, Carbohydrates, and Fats. National Institute On Aging. 2017.|
|↑4||Feeney, Mary Jo, Amy Myrdal Miller, and Peter Roupas. “Mushrooms—Biologically Distinct and Nutritionally Unique: Exploring a “Third Food Kingdom”.” Nutrition today 49, no. 6 (2014): 301.|
|↑5||Handayani, Dian, J. Chen, Barbara J. Meyer, and Xu-Feng Huang. “Dietary Shiitake mushroom (Lentinus edodes) prevents fat deposition and lowers triglyceride in rats fed a high-fat diet.” Journal of obesity 2011 (2011).|
|↑6||Valverde, María Elena, Talía Hernández-Pérez, and Octavio Paredes-López. “Edible mushrooms: improving human health and promoting quality life.” International journal of microbiology 2015 (2015).|
|↑7||Eating mushrooms at breakfast may help you feel fuller. U.S. National Library of Medicine. 2017.|
|↑8||Poddar, Kavita H., Meghan Ames, Chen Hsin-Jen, Mary Jo Feeney, Youfa Wang, and Lawrence J. Cheskin. “Positive effect of mushrooms substituted for meat on body weight, body composition, and health parameters. A 1-year randomized clinical trial.” Appetite 71 (2013): 379-387.|