Are Mushrooms Healthy? Part I, Nutrition.
The Quick answer:
Yes. Mushrooms are high in protein, very low in simple carbohydrates, rich in high-molecular weight polysaccharides, high in antioxidants and low in fat. They are a good source of B vitamins (riboflavin (B₂), niacin (B₃), pantothenic acid (B₅)) and ergosterol (provitamin D₂). They contain essential minerals, particularly potassium, copper and selenium. They are also high in dietary fibre (between 20% and 50% of dry mass), including β-D-glucans (Beelman et al. (2003) Int. J. Med. Mushrooms, 5: 321-337). Because most fresh mushrooms have a water content of around 90%, nutritional analyses based on their dry weights are more useful when comparing them with other foods.
And More Details:
We’re obviously talking about whether edible mushrooms are healthy here and not the poisonous varieties (no sniggers at the back please).
In 1930 the Food and Drug Review wrote: “The magic words ‘health giving’ are today the most overworked and loosely applied in the advertising lexicon.” (F&D Rev., 14 (Feb. 1930), 41-44)
So not much has changed, has it?
In the US, the Code of Federal Regulations Title 21, Vol 2 declares:
‘ … any food bearing the nutrient content claim “healthy” contain at least ten percent of the Daily Value (DV) per reference amount customarily consumed (RACC) of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, protein, or fiber, if the food instead contains at least ten percent of the DV per RACC of potassium or vitamin D.’
And the FDA in “Use of the Term “Healthy” in the Labeling of Human Food Products: Guidance for Industry” says:
‘You may use the term “healthy” or related terms (e.g., “health,” “healthful,” “healthfully,” “healthfulness,” “healthier,” “healthiest,” “healthily,” and “healthiness”) as an implied nutrient content claim on the label or in labeling of a food that is useful in creating a diet that is consistent with dietary recommendations if:
(i) The food meets the following conditions for fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and other nutrients’
Help! Let me out of here! Now everybody is totally confused, and in fact, various authorities are making new efforts to be clear on the question of ‘What is healthy’. We’re all confused.
So what does the international food standards body, the Codex Alimentarius Commission say?
GUIDELINES FOR USE OF NUTRITION AND HEALTH CLAIMS
Nutrition and Health Claims (CAC/GL 23-1997)
Low in energy means under 40 kcal (170 kJ) per 100 g (solids)
(In a 100-gram serving, raw white mushrooms provide 93 kilojoules (22 kilocalories))
Low in fat means under 3g per 100 g (solids)
(In a 100-gram serving, raw white mushrooms provide 0.34 g fats)
And, although the nutritional content varies slightly according to the substrate on which they were grown, here are some typical values (not including water) :
Mushroom Fibre Protein Fat Carbohydrate
Agaricus bisporus 18.23 41.06 2.12 28.38
Pleurotus florida 23.18 27.83 1.54 32.08
(Source: Teklit GA, Chemical Composition and Nutritional Value of the Most Widely Used Mushrooms Cultivated in Mekelle Tigray Ethiopia. J Nutr Food Sci 2015, 5: 408)
Here are the values from the USDA Database. Note, these are for raw mushrooms, not dry mushrooms. These are easier to compare against the Codex’s requirements.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||93 kJ (22 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||1 g|
Pantothenic acid (B5)
|Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Now you can decide whether to call mushrooms ‘healthy’ in respect of mushroom nutrition. High protein, low fat? I think the answer is clearly ‘healthy’ 😊
To find recipes for these healthy mushrooms, browse our mushroom recipe and cookbook store.