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The health benefits of mushrooms, according to dietitians

They’re versatile both in cooking options and in the benefits they offer.

Mushrooms also help to boost energy and support the nervous system.

Mushrooms also help to boost energy and support the nervous system.

Aleksandr Zubkov/Getty Images

Mushrooms: Most people either love them or hate them. If you’re in the first camp, that’s good news from a nutrition standpoint, as they’re known to be nutritional powerhouses.

Here, we’ve rounded up insight from two dietitians on just why you want to keep adding mushrooms to your pizza, salads, and much more.

Health benefits of mushrooms

According to Katie Cavuto, a registered dietitian and executive chef for Saladworks, mushrooms are a versatile vegetable that is extremely nourishing and provides a host of nutritional benefits, in addition to good flavor and texture. 

For starters, mushrooms provide immune support and are a powerhouse when it comes to their antioxidant content. 

“Antioxidants, like selenium, support immune function and help to protect body cells from disease-causing damage,” Cavuto explains. 

Mushrooms also offer cancer-fighting properties, she adds. In fact, according to the National Cancer Institute, the antioxidants in mushrooms may help prevent certain types of cancer including lung, prostate, and breast cancers. 

“While more research is needed, and in the works, the nutrients found in mushrooms have been shown to suppress growth and invasiveness of breast cancer cells,” she says. “Mushrooms' natural aromatase-inhibiting properties may also help prevent recurrence of hormone-dependent breast cancers.”

Mushrooms also help to boost energy and support the nervous system, Cavuto says. 

“Mushrooms are rich in B Vitamins which help to provide energy by aiding in the digestion and absorption of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates,” she says. “B vitamins also play an important role in the nervous system.”

Additionally, mushrooms support weight loss and diabetes, with a 2018 review linking high fiber diets with a reduced risk of Type 2 Diabetes and improved blood sugar control for those that many already have the disease (See Study Link 6). 

“Increasing your intake of low-density foods, like vegetables and mushrooms, has also been shown to help reduce overall caloric intake while still leaving you feeling full and satisfied,” Cavuto says. “I like to think of this as the “half your plate” rule with the goal of filling half your plate with vegetables and mushrooms at most meals.”

Finally, mushrooms are also believed to help with brain health. A 2019 study showed consuming 1 1/2 cups of mushrooms a day (2, 3/4 cup servings) may reduce your risk of cognitive decline, Cavuto says. 

Additionally, last year the Mushroom Council conducted a study and found that when you add just one serving of mushrooms to your meal, you add more fiber, potassium, B vitamins, and zinc without adding any additional fat or calories, adds Mackenzie Burgess, a registered dietitian nutritionist and recipe developer at Cheerful Choices.

White mushroom health benefits

Like all mushroom varieties, white button mushrooms are a good source of vitamin D and potassium, Burgess says. She recommends caramelizing these mushrooms and pairing them with burgers, risottos, or grain bowls. 

Is it okay to eat mushrooms every day?

According to Burgess, mushrooms are an ideal food to enjoy every day and for every meal occasion. In addition to the above suggestions, she recommends trying making your own "mushroom meat blend" by sauteing together one pound of ground meat and one pound of finely chopped mushrooms.

“As a culinary dietitian, I’m always adding these mushrooms to my shopping list because they’re nutritious while remaining low cost,” she says. 

Are mushrooms good for your skin?

With all the other benefits mushrooms offer, it’s no surprise mushrooms provide skin health benefits as well. Mushrooms are made up to 80-90% water, making them great for staying hydrated and supporting healthy skin, Burgess says.

Which mushroom is the healthiest?

According to Burgess, all fresh mushrooms have a similar nutrient profile and health benefits, and it’s really not a contest to find the “best” one. 

“That means, it’s up to you to pick your favorites,” she says. “Portabella mushrooms make a delicious burger substitute whereas shiitake mushrooms are perfectly paired with a tofu stir fry, [for example].”

Are mushrooms a superfood?

Based on their abundant health benefits, mushrooms are commonly described as a superfood. There isn’t an official superfood designation or specific criteria to determine if something is a superfood, but mushrooms most definitely fall into a category of super-healthy foods.