The Science of Mushrooms: Nutritional Value and Health Benefits

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Want to learn about the benefits of mushrooms? You're in the right place! This guide will cover how mushrooms impact our bodies in a wide variety of ways. 

mushroom benefits and nutritional value




The Basics of Mushrooms

What are Mushrooms Anyway?

Most people are aware that mushrooms are a type of fungus, however, many people are unaware of how complex and important mushrooms are for our health and ecosystem. Some characteristics of these fungi, without getting too biologically technical, are highlighted below:


Nutritional Value of Mushrooms

For the purpose of nutrition, we should consider the most commonly available mushroom in supermarkets, aptly named the "common mushroom". These mushrooms actually come in two separate colors - white in brown. Baby Bella and Crimini mushrooms are the two types of common mushrooms you've likely seen. 

In addition to the two most common names listed above,  they can also be called:

Nutrition Facts for the Common Mushroom (1)

Much like plant foods, mushrooms are low in calories and high in micronutrients.  While the above chart shows a low percentage of the vitamins that mushroom contains, it's important to note that 22 calories of cooked mushrooms would be quite small in terms of portion size and daily caloric needs.

That being said, if you ate 100 calories of mushrooms, you'd be getting around 5X the micronutrient percentages listed on the nutrition facts above. Mushrooms also contain 0.14 grams of protein per calorie which is actually greater than chicken which has 0.11 grams per calorie. If eaten in enough quantity, mushrooms can actually be a decent lean protein source and a staple on your shopping list.


Studies Done on Mushrooms

Mushrooms and the Immune System

SIgA, short for Secretory immunoglobulin A, is the immune system's first line of defense for our body's mucosal surfaces. Mucosal surfaces are membranes made up of epithelial cells. These cells facilitate absorption and secretion in glands and intestines.

Mucosal surfaces line certain tracts and glands in the body including : 

 

 


 




 

 





Ways to Enjoy Mushrooms

After you've cooked your mushrooms, it's a great idea to keep them in the fridge for easy access. 

From there, you can throw cooked mushrooms into salads, pastas, toast or really anything that you're eating.

But one of my favorite ways to eat mushrooms is in a

mushroom gravy.

Here's I like to make it...

  • Use a knife or food chopper to dice a whole onion, 8 oz of mushrooms, 5-6 cloves of garlic.
  • Add 1 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of pepper, 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • Throw into a large saute pan with around 2 cups of veggie broth and bring to a low simmer.
  • When all ingredients are cooked though, use an immersion blender or counter-top blender on a low speed to make it chunky, but not pureed.
  • Serve with mashed potatoes or use as a delicious mushrooms dipping sauce.

Conclusions

While they are often overlooked as health promoting foods (compared to fruits and veggies anyway), there is definitely a place for mushroom consumption in a diet focused on well-being and disease prevention. Based on what we learned throughout all the studies, regular white button mushrooms should be consumed regularly (but no need to exceed 100 g per day.)

Just be sure to cook the mushrooms before you eat them! Raw mushrooms don't taste particularly good anyway!


References

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agaricus_bisporus
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22113068
  3. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814611010107
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm
  5. https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-2891-9-29
  6. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/making-our-arteries-less-sticky/
  7. http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/66/24/12026
  8. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/131/12/3288.full.pdf+html
  9. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/breast-cancer-vs-mushrooms/
  10. https://www.drfuhrman.com/learn/library/articles/17/mighty-mushrooms-boost-immune-function-and-guard-against-cancer
  11. http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/canres/46/8/4007.full.pdf

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