Mushrooms are nature’s hidden treasure because one handful of mushrooms delivers nutrition, value, taste and versatility. They’re fat-free, low-calorie, nutrient-dense, low in sodium, contain natural antioxidants, and have a savory flavor that enhances everyday dishes. Here are 7 health benefits of mushrooms:
1. Weight Management/Satiety. Mushrooms are hearty and fulfilling. Increasing intake of low-energy density-foods (meaning few calories given the volume of food), specifically mushrooms, in place of high-energy-density foods, like lean ground beef, can be an effective method for reducing daily energy and fat intake while still feeling full and satiated after the meal. Research conducted at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests substituting mushrooms for lean ground beef in an entrée just once every week would save almost 20,000 calories or more than 5 pounds of body weight in one year.
2. Source of Vitamin D. Few foods naturally contain vitamin D, but mushrooms are unique for being the only source in the produce aisle and one of the few non-fortified food sources. All mushrooms contain vitamin D, but growers also have the ability to increase D levels in mushrooms to a controlled amount by exposing them to ultraviolet light.
3. Every Day Versatility.Thanks to their versatility, low-calorie, nutrient-dense mushrooms can help people meet recommended dietary guidelines. Fresh mushrooms can be added to everyday dishes to provide an extra serving of vegetables and deliver important nutrients, including vitamin D, potassium, selenium, ergothionene and B vitamins.
4. Low in Sodium. Mushrooms are low in sodium, plus their umami counterbalances saltiness and allows for less salt to be used in a dish, without compromising flavor. “Tasting Success with Cutting Salt,” a collaborative report from the department of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health and the Culinary Institute of America, recognizes cooking with umami-rich ingredients, like mushrooms, as a way to boost flavor without adding salt.
5. Good Source of Antioxidants and Immunity. Mushrooms are a great source of the antioxidants selenium and ergothioneine which helps strengthen the immune system and protect body cells from damage that might lead to chronic diseases.
6. High in B Vitamins Mushrooms also provide B vitamins, including riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid, which help to provide energy by breaking down proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
7. Cancer Prevention Scientists at City of Hope were some of the first to find a potential link between mushrooms and a decreased likelihood of tumor growth and development in cells and animals. The team’s research shows that women may benefit from a balanced diet, which includes about 3 to 5 ounces of mushrooms per day. Pink takes center stage in October as mushrooms are sold in pink packaging in honor of national breast cancer awareness month.
Also here’s some more mushrooms 101
- To clean mushrooms, simply brush off any dirt with a damp paper towel or fingers. Before using, trim the end of the stem if it’s tough. Never soak mushrooms as they may absorb the moisture.
- Mushrooms keep for up to a week in the refrigerator. To maximize shelf life, keep mushrooms in original packaging until ready to use. You can freeze sautéed mushrooms for up to one month.
I am partnered with the Mushroom Council, but this post was done independently to share my love for mushrooms and their health benefits. See Mushroom Council for more information about mushrooms and recipes.