Nutritional benefits of mushrooms
A common misconception is that mushrooms hold little or no nutritional value compared to vegetables. Indeed, Mushrooms do contain approximately 80-90% water (depending on the variety), but this does not mean that they have the same nutritional value as water. This poster was compiled from freely available public information and is a comparison of the white button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus), with three vegetables generally considered to be highly nutritious and highlights that mushrooms are a great addition to help maintain a healthy diet.
Vitamins are complex chemical substances contained mainly in food. They enable the body to break down and use the basic elements of food, proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
Certain vitamins are also involved in producing blood cells, hormones, genetic material and chemicals in your nervous system. Unlike carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, vitamins and minerals do not provide calories. However, they do help the body to use the energy from food.
Minerals are chemical elements that are involved in various processes in your body. They help to regulate cell function and to serve as building blocks for your cells and organs.
A varied diet should supply all the minerals you need. Unlike vitamins, minerals do not deteriorate during storage or cooking. Major minerals – those needed in larger amounts – include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and chloride. In addition, your body needs smaller amounts of chromium, copper, fluoride, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and zinc for normal growth and health.
Phosphorus is the second most abundant element in the human body, most of which is the skeleton in the form of calcium phosphate.
It is also a major driving force for metabolism which relies on the making and breaking of high-energy phosphate bonds. Combined with lipids, phosphorus also makes up the phospholipid bilayer or membrane of cells in the body. A 100g serving of mushrooms contains 9% of your recommended daily allowance (RDA) (See Table 2).
Selenium is incorporated into proteins to make Selenoproteins, which are important antioxidant enzymes.
The antioxidant properties of Selenoproteins help prevent cellular damage from free radicals. Free radicals are natural by-products of oxygen metabolism that may contribute to the development of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Other Selenoproteins help regulate thyroid function and play a role in the immune system. A 100g serving of mushrooms contains 27% of your RDA. (See Table 2).
Mushrooms contain higher levels of Selenium and Phosphorous than uncooked Broccoli, Spinach and Carrots (See Table 1).
Vitamin D mushrooms: Vitamin D mushrooms taste just like regular brown mushrooms, but have the benefit of providing 100% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin D in just three mushrooms (According to The European Food Information Council).
Vitamin B2 –Riboflavin: 100g of mushrooms provide 31% of its RDA (See Table 2). Along with the other B vitamins, it facilitates the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats and proteins to provide the body with energy. It also helps in the regeneration of glutathione, an enzyme that rids the body of free radicals.
Vitamin B3-Niacin: 100g of mushrooms provide 23% of its RDA (See Table 2). It is very effective at correcting high cholesterol and preventing heart disease. Population studies show that people with higher levels in their diet have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and Cataracts.
Vitamin B5 – Pantothenic acid: 100g of mushrooms provide 30% of its RDA (See Table 2). In addition to playing a role in the breakdown of fats and carbohydrates for energy, vitamin B5 is critical to the manufacture of red blood cells, as well as sex and stress-related hormones produced in the adrenal glands, small glands that sit atop the kidneys. Vitamin B5 is also important in maintaining a healthy digestive tract and it helps the body use other vitamins, particularly B2 or riboflavin. It is sometimes called the “anti-stress” vitamin, but there is no real evidence whether it helps the body withstand stress.
Although Mushrooms are low in fat, they do contain essential fatty acids. EFA’s from Agaricus bisporus have been shown to significantly reduce tumour development in mice.
Mushrooms are an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals and should make up an important part of any healthy diet (See Table 1). This message could possibly be conveyed to the public more frequently which could lead to benefits for the mushroom industry through a potential growth in demand from an increasingly health conscious consumer base.
Table 1: A comparison of A.bisporus against three common vegetables. Shaded boxes denote the highest reading for that nutrient.
Table 2: RDA for Males and Females of a certain age. RDA values provided by the World Health Organisation. A.I. = Acceptable intake. Where no RDA has been established although it is of importance for a healthy diet.
Anti Aromatase activity of phytochemicals in white button mushrooms. Chen et al. Cancer Res. 2006;66 24
United States department of Agriculture (USDA): www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/
The World Health Organisation (WHO): www.who.int
University of Maryland Medical Centre