Not only are mushrooms delicious and nutritious, they’re also very versatile. You can eat them raw sliced on salad, cooked in a casserole or soup, chopped to make a burger patty or even blended into coffee.
And you can feel good doing it. Mushrooms are packed with vitamins and minerals such as folate, copper, and magnesium. They are also high in B vitamins like riboflavin and pantothenic acid. Riboflavin is important for red blood cell formation, as is pantothenic acid, which also helps with hormone production and nervous system function.
Some mushrooms also are a good source of vitamin D, which can be hard to find in foods, and it’s important for the health of your bones, heart, immune system, and mood.
“Some mushrooms are exposed to high levels of UV light during growth to supply a good amount of vitamin D,” says Kristen Carli, RD, founder of Camelback Nutrition and Wellness in Phoenix. (Packaging often boasts if your grocery '’shrooms are grown this way, she says.) Just half a cup of UV-treated raw white mushrooms contains 46% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin D.
But perhaps the biggest reason mushrooms are having a culinary moment right now: They make a great meat substitute. They can be hearty enough to feel like a main dish (looking at you, portabella burger) and can give a dish a wow-worthy amount of umami taste. Umami is one of the five basic tastes, along with sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. Umami foods — which include meat, cheese, fish, and broths — contain the amino acid glutamate, which gives them a rich, satisfying flavor. One study found that people who ate a mushroom-based breakfast felt fuller and more satisfied compared with people who were given meat to eat.
Anytime you’re swapping out meat for mushrooms, you’re naturally lowering the saturated fat in a dish, Carli says. That’s great news, considering saturated fat can raise your bad cholesterol levels,a risk factor for heart attack and stroke. More of the good stuff, less of the bad? That’s a win-win.
Make room for mushrooms: 5 recipes to try
This low-fat soup is jam-packed with three kinds of mushrooms (porcini, shiitake, and white) and gets a flavorful kick from balsamic vinegar.
These hearty wraps combine shredded chicken with crunchy cabbage, punchy fresh ginger, Asian-flavored sauces and sliced shiitake mushrooms.
A flavorful dish that pairs veggies and pasta with options to turn up or down the spiciness.
A perfect way to transform leftover turkey into a cheesy and creamy casserole filled with two generous cups of mushrooms.
This well-seasoned, mushroom-based appetizer sounds fancy, but it’s a snap to make — and delicious spread on crackers or sliced veggies.