Thursday, March 5, 2015

Mushrooms Pack a Healthy Punch

Include mushrooms—rich in unique nutrients, flavor, and health potential—in your diet every week.

Our Creamy Mushroom Pasta. Recipe here.

Rich in the savory flavor sense known as umami, mushrooms are neither plant nor animal--they're classified in the fungi kingdom and offer much more than just good taste.

With only 20 calories per cup, mushrooms are rich in a type of fiber called beta-glucans, as well as other beneficial plant compounds, such as sterols and terpenoids, which have been linked to cholesterol-lowering effects and antioxidant activity. What's more, mushrooms exposed to ultraviolet light during cultivation can be an excellent source of vitamin D, which is important for bone and immune health.

Mushrooms have been prized for thousands of years in traditional medicine for their antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and now they're gaining attention in modern medicine for their role in immune function and cancer protection.

In Japan and China, mushrooms are used for cancer treatment; human clinical studies on mushrooms' anti-cancer potential are underway at City of Hope, a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in Duarte, California. In particular, researchers are intrigued by mushroom's possible protection against breast and prostate cancer.

Our Game Day Turkey Chili, loaded with the goodness of mushrooms. Recipe here.
Photo courtesy of Damn Delicious.

Low Calorie Mushroom-Swap

Substituting mushrooms--rich in savory flavor and "meaty" texture--for meat in recipes can be a useful strategy for health promotion and weight loss. According to findings from a 2013 study published in The FASEB Journal, substituting white button mushrooms for red meat in three meals a week over one year resulted in an average weight loss of seven pounds, as well as improvements in total body fat and waist circumference, compared to participants eating the standard meat diet.

You can use mushrooms to replace some of the meat in stir-fries, taco fillings, meatloaves and more. In addition, mushrooms add flavor and health to a number of dishes, including stir-fries, soups, sauces, casseroles and salads.

Our Power Green Lean Lasagna, made with crimini mushrooms. Recipe here.

While 90 percent of the mushrooms used in the U.S. are of the white variety, there are many mushrooms worth sampling, such as those listed below:

Mushroom Varieties
White (or Button)
The most popular variety in the U.S., this mushroom has
a mild flavor that intensifies when cooked. Sauté as a side dish; include in pizza, pasta, burgers, soups and casseroles; or enjoy raw in salads.
Similar in appearance to white mushrooms, with a deeper, earthier flavor, their full-bodied taste is an excellent addition to wild game and vegetable dishes.
A larger variety with a deep, meaty texture and flavor. Grill, broil and roast as an entrée, or a flavorful vegetarian alternative to a hamburger.
Fan-shaped, without caps, these mushrooms offer a distinctive woodsy taste and aroma. Simply sauté in olive oil for a flavorful side dish or enhance the richness of any recipe calling for mushrooms with this variety.
These tan-to-dark brown mushrooms have umbrella-shaped caps, and stems that should be removed. With a meaty texture and rich flavor, shiitake are excellent in bold stir-fries, pastas, soups, entrees, and grain dishes.
These tiny, button-capped mushrooms with long spindly stems are mild tasting and crunchy. Try them raw in salads and sandwiches.
Delicately flavored with a velvety texture, oyster mushrooms can be gray, pale yellow or blue. Sauté them with a small amount of olive oil and onions to bring out their flavor, and slice into flavorful pasta dishes.

This article was written by McKenzie for the November 2014 issue of Environmental Nurition.


  1. Mushrooms are the best! I can't believe I used to HATE them as a kid!

  2. I have grown my love and taste for mushrooms beyond belief, just within this past year. It seems like I can't go a few days before I'm eating them again! Great post.