Nutritional value of mushrooms
Mushrooms are classified as vegetables in the food world, but they are not technically plants. They belong to the fungi kingdom. Although they are not vegetables, mushrooms provide several important nutrients.
The key to getting enough vitamins and minerals in the diet is to eat a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables. In many cases, a food that lacks color also lacks necessary nutrients, but edible mushrooms, which are commonly white, prove quite the contrary.
This feature is part of a collection of Medical News Today articles on the health benefits of popular foods. It provides a nutritional breakdown of mushrooms and an in-depth look at their possible health benefits, how to incorporate more mushrooms into your diet and any potential health risks associated with their consumption.
Health benefits of mushrooms
Mushrooms contain some valuable nutrients. Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions. Increasing consumption of whole, unprocessed foods, like mushrooms, appears to decrease the risk of obesity and overall mortality, diabetes, and heart disease.
They also promote a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, and overall lower weight.
Mushrooms are high in antioxidants, just like carrots, tomatoes, green and red peppers, pumpkins, green beans, zucchini, and other whole foods.4 Antioxidants are chemicals that get rid of free radicals, a type of chemical that can harm a person's body cells, potentially leading to cancer.
Selenium is a mineral that is not present in most fruits and vegetables but can be found in mushrooms. It plays a role in liver enzyme function, and helps detoxify some cancer-causing compounds in the body. Additionally, selenium prevents inflammation and also decreases tumor growth rates.2
The vitamin D in mushrooms has also been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells by contributing to the regulation of the cell growth cycle. Placing freshly cut mushrooms in the sun significantly increases their vitamin D content. The folate in mushrooms plays an important role in DNA synthesis and repair, thus preventing the formation of cancer cells from mutations in the DNA.2
Studies have shown that people with type 1 diabetes who consume high-fiber diets have lower blood glucose levels and people with type 2 diabetes may have improved blood sugar, lipids and insulin levels.
One cup of grilled portabella mushrooms and one cup of stir-fried shiitake mushrooms both provide about 3 grams of fiber. Fiber also benefits the digestive system and reduces the risk of heart disease and metabolic syndrome.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 21 grams to 25 grams a day of fiber for women and 30 grams to 38 grams a day for men.
3) Heart health
The fiber, potassium and vitamin C content in mushrooms all contribute to cardiovascular health. Potassium and sodium work together in the body to help regulate blood pressure. Consuming mushrooms, which are high in potassium and low in sodium, helps to lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases.
Additionally, an intake of 3 grams of beta-glucans per day can lower blood cholesterol levels by 5 percent.3 The stem of the shiitake mushrooms is a particularly good source of beta-glucans.
Selenium has also been found to improve immune response to infection by stimulating the production of killer T-cells. The beta-glucan fibers found in the cell walls of mushrooms stimulate the immune system to fight cancer cells and prevent tumors from forming.3
5) Weight management and satiety
Dietary fiber plays an important role in weight management by functioning as a "bulking agent" in the digestive system. Mushrooms contain two types of dietary fibers in their cell walls, beta-glucans and chitin. These increase satiety and reduce appetite. By making you feel fuller longer, they can reduce overall calorie intake
—Source: Health News Today