12 To say they are good for you would be an understatement.
Health Benefits of Mushrooms
Mushrooms are widely known for their great taste and amazing health benefits. Packed with a ton of essential vitamins and minerals, they make for an excellent addition to your diet, adding flavor to many different recipes.
Crimini mushrooms are one of the most widely used mushroom varieties, popular in kitchens around the world. Many don’t realize that mushrooms, including crimini mushrooms, are actually a kind of fungus. They’re native to North America and Europe and are known for their delicate flavor and meaty texture.
Mushrooms are a low-calorie food that packs a nutritional punch. Loaded with many health-boosting vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, they’ve long been recognized as an important part of any diet. For instance, mushrooms raised with exposure to ultraviolet light are a good source of Vitamin D, an important component in bone and immune health.
Crimini mushrooms are a particularly excellent source of zinc, an essential trace element. Zinc is a vital nutrient for the immune system and is also needed for ensuring optimal growth in infants and children.
Moreover, researchers have found a number of other excellent reasons for incorporating mushrooms into your diet, such as:
Lower Blood Pressure
Mushrooms are rich sources of potassium, a nutrient known for reducing the negative impact that sodium can have on your body. Potassium also lessens the tension in blood vessels, potentially helping to lower blood pressure.
Boost Immune System
The anti-inflammatory effect of mushrooms has been shown to greatly improve the efficiency of the immune system. Research has found that mushrooms help stimulate microphages in the immune system, enhancing its ability to defeat foreign bodies and making you less susceptible to serious illnesses.
Long and short-term studies alike have found that mushrooms, in combination with exercise and other lifestyle changes, can have an important impact on weight loss. For example, after being asked to substitute 20 percent of their beef consumption with mushrooms, research participants showed improvements in their BMI and belly circumference. The antioxidants in mushrooms are also thought to reduce the risk of hypertension and other metabolic disorders.
Mushrooms are a rich, low calorie source of fiber, protein, and antioxidants. They may also mitigate the risk of developing serious health conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
They’re also great sources of:
Nutrients Per Serving
One cup of crimini mushrooms contains:
- Calories: 15
- Protein: 2.2 grams
- Fat: 0.2 grams
- Carbohydrates: 2.3 grams
- Fiber: 0.7 grams
- Sugar: 1.4 grams
One cup of chopped mushrooms is considered the typical serving size. Thanks to their umami texture, mushrooms can be used as a substitute for meat in many dishes.
How to Prepare Mushrooms
Mushrooms are almost always readily available in the produce section of any grocery or health food store. It’s not recommended to source them from the wild as many mushroom varieties are poisonous and hard to distinguish from edible varieties.
Crimini mushrooms can be eaten raw or cooked, sliced or unsliced. They can be simmered in a pot of water for about 5 minutes until soft, or sautéed in a hot skillet. When sautéing, cook the mushrooms in a pan with olive oil on a medium-heat for about eight minutes, stirring frequently until they brown at the edges.
Chopped mushrooms can be sprinkled raw over your meals to add a little more texture and flavor. Just make sure to wash them thoroughly first.
Here are some popular ways to add more mushrooms to your diet:
- Add mushrooms as an ingredient in homemade pizza
- Sprinkle chopped crimini mushrooms on salads
- Cook mushrooms with garlic and butter for a tasty side dish
- Use mushrooms as an ingredient in pasta sauce
- Mix mushrooms into cooked beef, chicken, or turkey
- Make cream of mushroom soup
- Add mushrooms into a stir-fry alongside other vegetables
- Eat mushrooms with eggs in the morning
7 Surprising Mushroom Health Benefits for Your Skin, Brain and Bones
To say they are good for you would be an understatement.
When it comes to choosing nutrient-rich ingredients for your meals, plain old white-colored food — think white bread, white rice and white pasta — don’t have the healthiest rep. But there is a white-colored treat that you should pile on your plate: mushrooms!
Whether in a spinach salad, sautéed in a stir-fry or folded into an omelet, mushrooms are a nutty-flavored, nutrient-packed treat, says Florida-based nutritionist Maryann Walsh, RD. “Mushrooms contain selenium and ergothioneine, which are potent antioxidants,” Walsh explains. “They also contain b vitamins and copper, which all support red blood cell development.”
“Although white foods are often thought to be nutrient-poor, mushrooms are an exception,” adds Mitzi Dulan, RD, author of The Pinterest Diet. “They contain many minerals, like selenium, potassium, copper, iron and phosphorus, that are not often found in plant-derived foods.”
Another great thing about mushrooms — there are so many interesting textures and flavors to try, from dense, meaty portobellos, to earthy hen-of-the-woods, to delicate chanterelles. “All mushrooms boast an impressive nutrient profile, so while some may be celebrated over others, at the end of the day you can reap the benefits by choosing whatever is available at your local grocery store, fits into your budget, and makes the most sense with the recipe you’re cooking,” says Walsh.
Here are seven compelling reasons why mushrooms pack a powerful punch when it comes to improving your health:
1. Mushrooms may help keep you young.
Mushrooms contain a super-high concentration of two antioxidants, ergothioneine and glutathione, according to a 2017 Penn State study. When these antioxidants are present together, they work extra-hard to protect the body from the physiological stress that causes visible signs of aging (translation: wrinkles).
2. Mushrooms can protect your brain as you age.
A long-term study from Spain published in 2021 found that certain foods rich in polyphenols (which include mushrooms, as well as coffee, cocoa, and red wine) may be protective against cognitive decline in older adults. Penn State researchersalso found that the antioxidants ergothioneine and glutathione may help prevent Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. They recommend eating at least five button mushrooms per day to reduce your risk of neurological illness in the future. Cook the ‘shrooms to best preserve their nutritional benefits, either by microwaving or grilling.
3. Mushrooms can lift your mood.
Penn State researchers did some further investigations in 2021 and found that in a sample of almost 25,000 people, those who regularly ate mushrooms had a lower risk for depression. Once again, this may be due to ergothioneine, which may lower the risk of oxidative stress, which in turn reduces symptoms of depression, the authors suggest. They recommend eating button mushrooms, which contain potassium, which may help reduce anxiety.
4. Mushrooms may boost your memory.
Another mental mushroom-related benefit: Researchers at the National University of Singapore found that eating two 3/4 cup servings of cooked mushrooms per week may reduce your odds of mild cognitive decline in a 2019 study.
5. Mushrooms can help your heart health.
Mushrooms help recipes taste better in place of salt because they contain glutamate ribonucleotides. Those compounds contribute a savory, umami taste with no ramifications for your blood pressure or heart disease risk. An entire cup of mushrooms has only 5 mg sodium! Mushrooms also make an excellent, satisfying substitute for red meat in any dish, eliminating calories, fat, and cholesterol from the equation.
6. Mushrooms can assist in strengthening your bones.
At the supermarket, grab a package marked “UVB”. How come? “Mushrooms that are grown outside in UV light (as opposed to those grown in the dark) are a good source of vitamin D,” Walsh explains. These UVB-labeled mushrooms have converted a compound called ergosterol directly into vitamin D. This means by eating just 3 ounces of UVB-exposed mushrooms, you’ve met your daily vitamin D requirement and given your bone health a leg up.
7. Mushrooms will help give you energy.
Mushrooms are rich in B vitamins: riboflavin [B2], folate [B9], thiamine [B1], pantothenic acid [B5] and niacin [B3]. These help the body utilize energy from the food we consume and produce red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body.
How to Eat More Mushrooms
What are some simple swaps that work more mushrooms into your daily meals? Dulan and Walsh offer the following suggestions:
- Chop mushrooms to match the consistency of ground beef and then blend them into the meat you’re cooking for lunch or dinner. This is a quick and easy way to incorporate mushrooms into your favorite burgers. • Use a large, flat portobello in place of a burger, or serve it as a low-carb “pizza crust” by topping it with sauce, cheese, and your favorite toppings (perhaps more mushrooms?).
- Cut up a small mushroom and mix it in to omelets, quiches, or scrambled eggs at breakfast or brunch.
- Slice some mushroom into your pasta sauce. Mushrooms can also add great flavor and texture to nearly any side dish.