I regularly include mushrooms in food preparations and they’re actually quite high on the list of nutrient-dense foods. Nutrient-dense foods are essentially those rich in health-promoting macronutrients and micronutrients but relatively low in calories, sodium, and sugar. So, whether you’re trying to lose weight or just adopt healthier eating habits, here are five reasons to incorporate mushrooms into your dietary regimen.
1. Great Source of Essential B Vitamins
Mushrooms are a great source of B vitamins including riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5). These vitamins are critical for energy production and work together to keep the body functioning at optimal levels. Niacin, for instance, bolsters fat and protein metabolism and promotes healthy cholesterol levels while riboflavin and pantothenic acid support proper nerve functioning and the maintenance of healthy eyes, skin, hair and nails.
2. Rich in Health-Promoting Antioxidants
Selenium and copper are trace minerals that function as potent antioxidants and mushrooms house large amounts of both. Selenium supports healthy thyroid function and works with antioxidant vitamins (C and E) to protect the body’s cells from the damaging effects of excess free radicals. Copper is needed for synthesis of hemoglobin, proper iron metabolism, and maintenance of blood vessels. The collective actions of copper greatly support healthy blood flow and circulation.
3. Supply Good Amounts of Dietary Fiber
Regularly consuming fiber-containing foods supports healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels and also promotes elimination of waste products from the body. Though the content of fiber in mushrooms isn’t as high as that of most vegetables, they’re generally a good source, especially when they are cooked. Beta-glucan is the main type of fiber housed in mushrooms and is similar to that contained in whole grain foods like oats and barley.
4. Promote Weight Management
Mushrooms are a top choice food for a low-calorie and/or low-carbohydrate weight loss plan. On average, mushrooms contain only a mere 5-20 calories, less than 1 gram of carbs, and virtually no sugar. The low-calorie and low-carbohydrate content of mushrooms is primarily due to the fact that they’re comprised of 80-90% water. In addition, due to their fiber content, eating mushrooms helps you feel fuller, faster, which helps reduce the urge to overeat.
5. Versatile for Cooking
Whether portobello, crimini or shiitake varieties, the versatility of mushrooms make them perfect for everyday eating. While mushrooms can most certainly stand alone, they taste great in just about any food preparation from salads to soups and stews to omelets and stir-fry dishes. Mushrooms are also an excellent whole food, plant-based alternative for vegan and vegetarian recipes due to their “meat-like” consistency.
For weight loss, long-term weight management and overall good health, mushrooms are among the best foods around. To reap the full benefits of mushrooms, it’s better to refrain from eating them breaded or deep-fried as such cooking methods can dramatically reduce their nutrient density.