Mushrooms are a healthy way to flavor your food. They are free of cholesterol and sugar, and they contain a negligible amount of fat, making them a good choice for people who are trying to lose or maintain weight. They are mineral-rich and low in calories, with a cup of sliced raw portabella mushrooms containing almost 2 grams of protein and a gram of fiber for only 19 calories.
Although mushrooms contain no vitamin C, the most common varieties, including white, brown, shiitake and portabella mushrooms, give you small amounts of the antioxidants riboflavin, niacin, folate and pantothenic acid. These B vitamins help your body metabolize the fat, protein and carbohydrates from all of the food you eat, making your digestive system more efficient and improving your overall health. B vitamins have antioxidant properties that prevent premature aging, illness and some heart conditions. They may even help produce chemicals in your brain that improve your mood and help fight depression, according to MayoClinic.com.
Mushrooms are rich in minerals. A cup of any variety of sliced mushroom gives you nearly 10 percent of your recommended daily intake for potassium, a nutrient that works against sodium to help keep your blood pressure low. The same amount of mushrooms also provides .1 to .3 milligrams of copper, which protects your nerve cells and immune system and helps your body produce red blood cells and collagen. The IOM recommends that adults get .9 milligrams of copper a day.
Sun exposure gives you vitamin D, the nutrient that helps your body absorb calcium and keeps your bones and teeth strong, but you may not get enough of it from going outside. Mushrooms that are exposed to sunlight are rich in vitamin D, according to researchers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In June of 2008, they reported that a 3-ounce serving of white, brown and portabella mushrooms exposed to sunlight, rather than being grown in dark buildings, provide 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D. Read labels to find mushrooms high in this nutrient.
Raw Vs. Cooked
Although raw mushrooms are richer in vitamins, per gram, than cooked mushrooms, the condensed nature of cooked mushrooms may make it easier to eat more of them. For example, a cup of raw portabella mushrooms has 24 micrograms of folate, a water-soluble vitamin that is depleted with cooking. If you grill those mushrooms, producing 1/2-cup of cooked mushrooms, it provides about 12 micrograms of folate, but if you eat a cup of cooked mushrooms, you get 24 micrograms of folate.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Research Service: Vitamin D-Rich Mushrooms: A Research Success
- Oregon State University: Mushrooms, Nature’s Hidden Treasures
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Copper
- MayoClinic.com: Vitamin B-12 and Depression: Are They Related?
- U.S. Department of Agriculture - Nutrient Database: Mushrooms, Portabella, Raw
- U.S. Department of Agriculture - Nutrient Database: Mushrooms, Portabella, Grilled
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