Mushrooms are a popular addition to many recipes and grocery lists.
Do you know what they can do for your health?
When people think of mushrooms, oftentimes the same ones come to mind. Small button mushrooms, cremini, or even portobello are the most common type of mushrooms that line the aisles in most grocery stores. They are found in a variety of dishes, from pizza to soup, but did you know these are actually all the same type of mushroom? That’s right! Cremini, portobello, and button mushrooms are actually the same mushroom, the Agaricus Bisporus, just at different stages of maturity! That means if you don’t have a personal preference for the taste or texture of mushrooms based on the ones you’ve tried, but you still want to get the health benefits they provide, you may be in luck!
Image by Kalineri
There are so many other types of mushrooms to try ranging in flavor that you are bound to find at least one that you love! Here are some other types of mushrooms that are wonderful and have a much different flavor profile than the Agaricus Bisporus variety.
King Oyster Mushrooms
For those with an adventurous spirit and a love of nature, foraging may be an exciting way to find new mushroom varieties as well. If you know what you're doing, it can be quite easy to spot and collect wild mushrooms to add to a homemade recipe! Some fun foraging varieties of mushrooms are:
Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
Giant Puffball Mushrooms
But be warned, there are many non-edible varieties of mushrooms that disguise themselves to look like edible varieties, and it is best to rely on a trusted grocery store for non-toxic mushrooms if you are not trained and knowledgeable of mushrooms while foraging! Some popular stores will carry the first list of mushrooms, and you may have to reach out to (professional) foragers for advice on accessing these types. These types of individuals are not always easy to get a hold of. For example, there are only two in the state of Alabama, but that doesn’t mean they can’t help guide you in the right direction! For more information on locating local professional forages, you can access the nationwide database here.
As mentioned before, there are a ton of benefits to incorporating mushrooms into your diet, which should encourage you to find a variety of mushrooms you enjoy!
The Health Properties and Benefits of Mushrooms
Mushrooms are a unique food in that, even though they are classified and understood by many to be vegetables, they are actually fungi! This means that their growth process looks quite different from the garden vegetables many of us are used to, which allows them to have a number of properties that make them so unique! Here are a few of the most helpful health properties of mushrooms, and because there are so many varieties, this article will mainly focus on the most common Agaricus Bisporus variety that is included in most recipes.
Image by Christine Siracusa
Mushrooms are Low in Calories.
For anyone that is trying to manage weight or food intake for a variety of reasons, paying attention to the number of calories consumed versus burned can be very important to your lifestyle. That means opting for lower calorie food options may be more advantageous to some, but that is often easier said than done. Knowing what foods are not only healthy but also low in calories can be a great way to keep up with this lifestyle, and mushrooms are one of those foods! They can be eaten raw or cooked to add to a meal and only have about 4 calories on average per medium-sized mushroom, according to the USDA!
Image by Harshal S. Hirve
Mushrooms are Gluten-Free.
There are a number of reasons that people choose to minimize or even completely eliminate gluten from their lives and diet, but whatever the reason, the task is not an easy one. Gluten has found its way into most foods, so much so that those wishing to avoid it must seek out a small selection of specially marked gluten-free food items to ensure there are no trace amounts in the food they eat. That is, if they are not making the food themselves from scratch, which can be time-consuming and quite exhausting. Knowing what foods are naturally gluten-free can be a lifesaver in situations such as this, which is why mushrooms are a great food to be aware of! Mushrooms, like other fruits and vegetables, are naturally gluten-free, making them a perfect option for anyone looking to avoid gluten in their life!
Image by Waldemar Brandt
Mushrooms are Fat-Free.
Just like managing calorie intake can be an important part of maintaining a healthy diet for some people, managing how much fat is consumed on a regular basis can be another really important aspect of a healthy diet. For those wishing to limit their intake of certain fats, fat-free foods are an awesome find! Mushrooms are great for anyone looking to manage the amount of fat in their diet because they are a fat-free food!
Image by Waldemar Brandt
Mushrooms are Low in Sodium.
Sodium is a natural part of a healthy diet. It helps our bodies to function at their highest potential when ingested in moderation, but too much sodium can cause detrimental complications, especially for those prone to cardiovascular health issues. Minimizing and managing sodium levels can be done through the food we eat, but one has to know what foods are high and low in sodium in order to know what foods to eat and what to avoid. Mushrooms, luckily, are low in sodium, making them perfect for anyone hoping to reduce the amount of sodium in their diet!
Image by Gil Ndjouwou
Mushrooms Help Reduce Cholesterol.
Much like sodium, cholesterol levels can be a serious issue for a lot of people, but especially those at risk for cardiovascular complications. Limiting cholesterol levels can be incredibly important for a healthy diet, but it can be difficult for people to find foods that aid in reducing cholesterol. However, mushrooms are great for this in a number of ways. Not only do they possess the properties to help the body reduce cholesterol naturally, but they work even better as a substitute for meat. Opting for hearty mushrooms instead of meat may have much better chances of reducing cholesterol levels significantly when compared to a meaty meal!
This isn’t the only reason mushrooms are seen as an ideal alternative to meats! For those that happen to be sticking to a non-meat oriented diet, it can be difficult to get all the essential vitamins and nutrients that are needed to stay healthy. Mushrooms offer a great opportunity to stay on track since they are rich in B vitamins, soluble fiber, copper, potassium, iron, and so much more! Plus, some mushroom varieties such as Lion’s Mane and Oyster Mushrooms can be prepared in such a way that they are almost indistinguishable from traditional meats!
These are only a few of the many, many health properties and benefits of mushrooms. They are an incredibly interesting and unique food, so we hope this article inspired you to seek more knowledge of how they can benefit you in your diet.
We hope you enjoy this article for All About Mushrooms and Why YOU Should Be Eating Them! If you tried incorporating these things into your regular routine, make sure to let us know! For more recipes, follow us on social media and make sure to check out our weekly blog posts where we share our new favorite recipes and must-know facts about food and living a healthy lifestyle! Check out the other meal options Mealfit provides, such as our Weekly Specials, Individual Meals, and other Meals by the Pound.