What is the nutritional value of mushrooms?

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Joel H. Fuhrman, MD
Family Medicine
Mushrooms are highly beneficial, especially for breast cancer prevention. Mushrooms support the immune system by enhancing the activity of several types of immune cells. Mushrooms are unique in their breast cancer preventing effects. Frequent consumption of mushrooms, even just one button mushroom per day, has been linked to considerable decreases in the risk of breast cancer (64%). Mushrooms are thought to protect against breast cancer particularly because they inhibit an enzyme called aromatase, which produces estrogen. Mushrooms are one of the very few foods that inhibit aromatase (pomegranate is another), and several varieties of mushrooms, especially the commonly eaten white button and portobello mushrooms, have strong anti-aromatase activity.

Mushrooms protect against all cancers, not just breast cancer. In addition to anti-aromatase activity, white, cremini, portobello, oyster, maitake, and reishi mushrooms have all been shown to have a wide variety of anti-cancer properties. 

Make sure to only eat mushrooms cooked, since several types of culinary mushrooms contain a potential carcinogen called agaritine, which is greatly reduced by cooking.
Amy Jamieson-Petonic
Nutrition & Dietetics

Mushrooms are a great source of selenium, an antioxidant that has been shown to help reduce harmful free radicals in the body. A build up of free radicals can lead to heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Add mushrooms to eggs, salads, whole-wheat pizza, and make a portabella mushroom sandwich in place of a beef burger for less fat and calories.

Michael T. Murray, ND
Naturopathic Medicine

Shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms are typically excellent sources of selenium and polysaccharides and very good sources of iron. They are also good sources of protein, dietary fiber, and vitamin C.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.