Mushrooms are more nutritious than most people realize. We created this article on mushroom nutrition so people interested in eating healthier whole foods can get a real understanding of the magic of mushrooms. (If you eat a vegetarian, vegan, or paleo diet, take notice!)
When most people imagine a nutritious diet, they think plenty of leafy greens and brightly-colored fruits and vegetables. What about mushrooms? Despite their often less-exciting colors and technically not being vegetables, our fungal friends are actually a powerhouse of nutrition. They’re low in calories, sodium, and cholesterol while being high in protein, vitamins, and antioxidants.
General Mushroom Nutrition
Yes, protein! Popular species of edible mushrooms normally contain 19-35% protein. Compare that to the general protein content of the following foods:
- Rice: 7.3%
- Wheat: 13.2%
- Soybean: 39.1%
- Milk: 25.2%
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. There are nine amino acids essential to humans because our bodies cannot make them. While animal-based foods generally contain all the necessary amino acids, plant-based proteins are usually low in one or more kind. Mushrooms, however, contain all nine types of essential amino acids.
Edible mushrooms are a fantastic source of several vitamins, especially B vitamins. The B vitamins found in mushrooms help your body break down carbohydrates and fats and play an important role in the nervous system. Eating one cup of mushrooms can provide you with the following amounts of vitamins, depending on the species:
- 7% daily intake of B1
- 30-35% daily intake of B2
- 22-25% daily intake of B3
- 23% daily intake of B6
Most people are surprised to find that mushrooms are also a great source for vitamin D. Just like humans, mushrooms produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. When it comes to getting this essential vitamin, mushrooms are the only source of produce that can help. The key here is that they have to be exposed to sunlight. Check out our sun-dried mushrooms to help boost your vitamin D intake. They can be added to soups, risottos and vegetable dishes, or made into a delicious tea.
Minerals & Antioxidants
Mushrooms contain many essential minerals, including iron, phosphor, copper, potassium and selenium. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that protects us against heart disease and some cancers. Mushrooms are one of the richest natural sources of selenium, not to mention one of the only items you’ll find in the produce aisle that has it. One single portion of mushrooms can provide a quarter of the daily needs of selenium.
The scope of mushroom nutrition does not stop at the content of their protein, vitamins and minerals. Many studies show a number of varying medicinal qualities linked to mushrooms.
Shiitake Mushroom Nutrition
Shiitake mushrooms contain eritadenine, a compound linked to helping the body remove cholesterol from the bloodstream. In one study, researchers found that adding 90 grams (about three ounces) of fresh shiitake to the diet every day lowered cholesterol by 12% in one week. In addition, shiitake have antiviral and immunity-boosting properties.
Reishi Mushroom Nutrition
Known as the “mushroom of immortality”, reishi has been utilized for over 2000 years in Japan and China to promote healthy respiratory, digestive, circulatory, and cardiovascular systems. These mushrooms are strongly anti-inflammatory and tied to better immune function and mental clarity. Many current studies also show that reishi mushrooms can prevent tumor growth and reduce the metastasis of cancerous cells. Check out our reishi mushroom extract to reap the benefits of this amazing mushroom.
Chaga Mushroom Nutrition
Chaga mushrooms have been used for centuries as a digestive aid, for liver and heart health, for internal cleansing, and to support immune function. Research also shows that chaga activates immune cells responsible for combating cancer initiation. If you’re interested in boosting your immune system, take a look at our chaga mushroom extract.
Now it’s time to take advantage of all this mushroom nutrition knowledge! Whether you add fresh oysters to your omelette in the morning, a dropper of reishi extract to your afternoon tea, or dried shiitake to your soup in the evening, we hope you continue to enjoy all the exciting benefits mushrooms have to offer.