Fresh Mushrooms Add Nutrients to Your Meal

Lower the fat in your favorite dishes with these savory, vitamin-packed fungi.

Mushrooms in a basket against a dark board table background

Medically reviewed in October 2021

Updated on June 8, 2022

Here's a simple way to add nutrients while reducing the fat in some of your favorite comfort foods. When you're making lasagna, sloppy joes, chili, or other ground beef dishes, throw in some chopped mushrooms instead of meat. You won’t miss a thing, and you’ll be giving your meal a healthy boost.

Mushrooms: elixir of life?
Across the globe, many cultures have long recognized the nutritional value of these edible fungi. In ancient China, for example, mushrooms were considered the “elixir of life.” The ancient Greeks thought mushrooms made warriors stronger in battle, and the Romans called them the “Food of the Gods.”   

Mushrooms are high in fiber and antioxidants. They’re naturally low in fat, salt, and sugar, and they’re cholesterol-free. They are a rich source of nutrients and minerals, such as selenium, potassium, magnesium, B vitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin E. They can also be high in protein, depending on the type of mushroom.

The white button mushroom, for example, the most common mushroom you may see in the supermarket, consists of about 38 percent protein. While loaded with essential minerals and other nutrients, mushrooms do not supply the complete protein of animal meat. But when mixed with other plant proteins, mushrooms can be part of a complete protein diet.

Health benefits galore

Researchers have also been looking at the potential health benefits of mushrooms, such as improving immune function, treating infections, and preventing or treating cancer.

Several types of mushrooms have been tested for potential cancer-fighting properties, mostly for treating breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancer. So far, most studies in humans have been small, early clinical trials. While some results may suggest cancer-fighting potential for some mushrooms, more research is needed in larger groups of people.

Article sources open article sources

Valverde ME, Hernández-Pérez T, Paredes-López O. Edible mushrooms: improving human health and promoting quality life. Int J Microbiol. 2015;2015:376387
Assemie A, Abaya G. The Effect of Edible Mushroom on Health and Their Biochemistry. Int J Microbiol. 2022 Mar 23;2022:8744788
Panda SK, Sahoo G, Swain SS, Luyten W. Anticancer Activities of Mushrooms: A Neglected Source for Drug Discovery. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2022 Jan 31;15(2):176.

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