Mushrooms are fungi, which is a separate kingdom of life from plants and animals. Technically, they are not a vegetable, but they are often used and served as a vegetable in recipes.
Mushrooms are a low-calorie, high-fiber food choice that can be used diversely in cooking. They add a savory flavor to recipes but are very low in sodium, making them a healthy choice.
Mushroom Nutrition Facts
One cup of mushrooms (70g) provides 15 calories, 2.2g of protein, 2.3g of carbohydrates, and 0.2g of fat. Mushrooms are a good source of copper, B vitamins, potassium, and iron. The following nutrition information is for 1 cup of raw mushrooms and is provided by the USDA.
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One cup of raw mushrooms contains 2.3 grams of carbohydrates. Mushrooms are also a good source of fiber, particularly the soluble fiber beta-glucan.
Mushrooms have a naturally low glycemic index, which means that they are presumed to have little negative effect on blood glucose or insulin response due to their low carbohydrate content. There is not sufficient, conclusive evidence on the use of mushrooms for diabetes, however.
Mushrooms have only a minuscule amount of fat, most of which is polyunsaturated fat. As a result, mushrooms are considered a heart-healthy food choice.
Mushrooms provide a small amount of protein at 2.2 grams per cup, which represents just a portion of your daily needs. So be sure to eat protein-rich foods such as legumes, nuts, dairy, meat, or fish as part of a balanced diet.
Vitamins and Minerals
Mushrooms are full of micronutrients. They are a good source of copper, potassium, phosphorus, and iron. Copper assists in energy production and iron utilization. Potassium is important for maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance, is required for proper nerve and muscle conduction, and may help to lower blood pressure.
Iron is a mineral needed for the synthesis of hemoglobin, DNA, amino acids, neurotransmitters, and certain hormones. Mushrooms also contain niacin (vitamin B3) and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5). B vitamins assist in the release of energy from carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
One cup of raw mushrooms contains just 15 calories. That makes this a low-calorie food, especially since most people don't eat a full cup at one time and will take in even fewer calories than this.
Mushrooms are a low-calorie food that provide the body with several nutrients, such as copper, potassium, iron, and a couple of B vitamins.
A total of 126 health-related functions are thought to be produced by medicinal mushrooms and fungi. Research is ongoing about the potential for using mushrooms to improve health and to prevent or manage health conditions.
In addition to the many vitamins and minerals mushrooms contain, they have also been found to have high levels of some antioxidant compounds. These compounds can be beneficial to health.
Fights Cell Damage
Antioxidants have been shown to fight oxidative stress and inflammation, which contribute to signs of aging and to the development of chronic diseases. Several varieties of mushrooms, such as porcini and white button mushrooms, are high in the antioxidants glutathione and ergothioneine, which are not found in many other plant foods.
Improves Brain Function
Consuming mushrooms may help slow the cognitive decline that comes with aging, according to both the antioxidant research above and a separate study of over 600 people aged 60 and over.
Supports Bone Health
Some mushrooms sold in stores have been treated with UV light to increase their vitamin D stores. These treated mushrooms are one of the best sources of vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for healthy bones. Eating these mushrooms has the same benefit as getting vitamin D from supplements or from sun exposure.
Normally, mushrooms are not a good source of vitamin D. The exception is wild mushrooms, but eating them can be risky if you are unable to determine which are edible and which are toxic.
Lowers Diabetes Risk
Mushrooms are a good source of fiber. Consuming dietary fiber has many health benefits, including a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. A 2020 study adds that the polysaccharides in mushrooms also help protect against diabetes by reducing oxidative stress.
After reviewing results of the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), researchers noted that people who consumed mushrooms had a reduced risk of having depression. This effect appears to be present regardless of the amount of mushrooms consumed.
Food allergies to mushrooms are rare but have been reported. You may have a cross-reaction if you are allergic to molds.
Some species of mushrooms can interact with alcohol in unpleasant ways. The inky cap mushroom contains coprine, which acts like the drug Antabuse, causing a racing heart, flushing, tingling, and other symptoms when you ingest alcohol as long as five days after eating the mushroom. Some other mushrooms cause digestive distress in susceptible people who consume alcohol alongside the mushroom dish.
The biggest concerns with adverse effects, however, are with wild mushrooms and the wide variety of poisonous substances they can contain. Effects of ingesting a toxic wild mushroom variety may include gastrointestinal irritation with nausea, cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea. These may either pass on their own or be severe enough to require hospitalization.
Other mushroom toxins can affect the involuntary nervous system, kidneys, and liver, or are carcinogenic. Some of these toxins have no antidote and can be fatal within hours. Hallucinogenic mushrooms contain psilocybin and related compounds that produce psychological and perceptual effects.
There are many types of culinary mushrooms, including white button, crimini, shiitake, portabella, enoki, cloud ear, and more. The largest cultivated mushroom is the portabella, which can grow up to 6 inches in diameter.
Micro- and macro-nutrient levels can vary among different types of mushrooms. For example, white mushrooms have slightly more calcium while shiitake mushrooms have more fiber. But in general, most edible varieties contain important vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin B-6, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, copper, folate, and zinc.
Dried mushrooms tend to have more calories and other nutrients than raw varieties because they are more concentrated. When they are rehydrated before cooking or eating, their nutrition is comparable to raw versions. Canned mushrooms are often a little higher in calories, and significantly higher in sodium than raw mushrooms due to additives.
When They're Best
Fresh mushrooms are available all year long, with the peak season in the United States running from April through June. Wild mushrooms are available seasonally, usually in the summer and fall. Dried and canned mushrooms can also be found all year long.
Storage and Food Safety
Manywild mushrooms are deadly and can look like safe varieties, so it is risky to gather wild mushrooms on your own for eating.Wild mushrooms that are sold by reputable purveyors should be safe to eat.
Many people use chop mushrooms and put them in salads raw. Some experts suggest that you're better off cooking mushrooms because cooking helps to release their vitamins and minerals.
Certain varieties of raw mushrooms contain small amounts of toxins,including a compound that is considered carcinogenic, which is destroyed through cooking. However, cooking will not render highly toxic mushrooms safe to eat.
When shopping for mushrooms, look for fresh mushrooms that are clean and free of blemishes, such as soft, moist spots and discoloration. Fresh mushrooms can be stored in the refrigerator in an open container for about five days. Do not wash them until just before use.
How to Prepare
Mushrooms can be cooked in a variety of ways, including grilling, baking, broiling, sautéing, and roasting. They are a hearty, vegetarian ingredient that can add texture, flavor, and substance to meals. Use mushrooms when making sauces, stews, and soups, or simply chop, sauté, and add to grain, potato, or egg dishes.
Mushroom caps serve as a good vehicle for stuffing. Raw mushrooms can hold spreads and dips, or they can be baked with other kinds of stuffing, such as seafood or cheeses mixed with herbs, spices, and vegetables.
Start your day off with a protein and fiber-rich egg and mushroom dish or pair your main course with a side of simple grilled mushrooms. Top healthy pizzas with mushrooms or add them to your sides. Use them as a substitute for meat if you are looking to follow a vegetarian or vegan meal plan.
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Barbie Cervoni MS, RD, CDCES, CDN
Barbie Cervoni MS, RD, CDCES, CDN, is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist, counseling patients with diabetes. Barbie was previously the Advanced Nutrition Coordinator for the Mount Sinai Diabetes and Cardiovascular Alliance and worked in pediatric endocrinology at The Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center.
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