Mushrooms and weight control
Mushrooms are ideally suited for weight control as they are low in fat and calories. A single serving of mushrooms (around 100g or three button mushrooms) has only 18 kcals.
In addition, mushrooms make you feel fuller for longer resulting in a decrease in food intake. In 2008 researchers from Johns Hopkins University published a study which confirmed that substituting meat with button mushrooms increased the satiety (feeling of fullness) of the meal. Study participants that substituted meat with mushrooms found that they were able to regulate their body weight more easily. On top of that, although the mushroom meal was only about 100 calories less than the meat meal, consumers actually ate 379 fewer calories a day over four days! [Cheskin 2008, Poddar 2013]
This suggests that mushrooms have a powerful ability to make a meal more filling.
Mushrooms are also low energy density as they contain fewer calories per serving. Rather than trying to starve yourself by eating fewer calories to lose weight, it's a good idea to focus on eating meals that have fewer calories per serving.
Low energy dense foods are high in water and low in fat, as is the case with mushrooms, fruits and vegetables. The table below compares the energy density of various foods. Interestingly, mushrooms are one of the lowest energy dense foods available!
|Food||kcals / 100g|
|Beef fillet (lean)||269|
In truth, most people find that it's easy to gain weight but losing it can be quite a challenging task. Put simply, we generally gain weight when we eat more calories than our body requires for maintaining its weight. So, to lose any excess body fat we will have to eat fewer calories than we burn. There are three ways to achieve that:
- Eat fewer calories by changing your diet;
- Burn more calories by being more active; or/and
- A combination of the above
In reality, a combination of dietary change and leading a lifestyle that's more active is the most efficient way to succeed in weight management. And, as described above, the humble mushroom can be a significant part of that success.
- Poddar, K. H., et al. Positive effect of mushrooms substituted for meat on body weight, body composition, and health parameters. A 1-year randomized clinical trial. Appetite (2013).
- Cheskin L.J., et al. Lack of energy compensation over 4 days when white mushrooms are substituted for beef. Appetite (2008).
Research shows that compounds in mushrooms could help reduce the risk of two very common types of cancer: breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men.
Wait, mushrooms help fight cancer?
International studies suggest that women who eat mushrooms have a 50-60% lower risk of breast cancer, compared to those who don't [Shin 2010; Hong 2008]. That has been quite an extraordinary finding and has inspired more research on how mushrooms might help lower risk of cancer.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia's largest food research organisation, has published a very detailed scientific report on mushrooms' anti-cancer properties which you can find here.
Potential to reduce prostate cancer risk too
Moreover, research suggests that compounds in mushrooms inhibit the enzyme responsible for the development of prostate cancer in men, therefore having a potential role in the protection against prostate cancer [Adams 2008].
Summing up, it is too early to say that mushrooms can solely and completely protect you from the risk of breast or prostate cancer. But ongoing research suggests that the role of mushrooms in reducing the risk of these two common types of cancers is very promising.
It is unlikely that any single nutrient in food can solely provide protection against cancer. It is more probable that the combination of many compounds in food can help to effectively offer protection to the body. That means we should try to eat a healthy diet, one that includes mushrooms.
- Hong SA, et al. A case-control study on the dietary intake of mushrooms and breast cancer risk among Korean women, International Journal of Cancer 2008.
- Shin A, et al. Dietary mushroom intake and the risk of breast cancer based on hormone receptor status, Nutrition & Cancer 2010.
- Adams LS, et al. White button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) exhibits antiproliferative and proapoptotic properties and inhibits prostate tumor growth in athymic mice, Nutrition and Cancer 2008.
- Chen S. Anti-cancer activities of white button mushrooms, Mushroom Science XVI 2004.
- Baiba J Grube, et al. White Button Mushroom Phytochemicals Inhibit Aromatase Activity and Breast Cancer Cell Proliferation, Journal of Nutrition 2001.
- Chen S., et al. Anti-aromatase activity of phytochemicals in white button mushrooms (Agaricus Bisporus), Cancer Research 2006.
Are you a vegetarian? Or are you just looking to reduce your daily meat intake? Then mushrooms should be a part of your daily diet as no other vegetable comes nearly as close to the taste and texture of meat as the humble mushroom!
But that's not all. Mushrooms can be a great meat substitute because they pack more than twice the amount of protein than other vegetables. Impressive isn't it?
But don't just take our word for it.
In a recent study performed at the Johns Hopkins University, the positive effects of substituting mushrooms for meat were examined over a 1-year period and the results were astonishing! Not only did the participants on the mushroom diet saw a loss in their overall body weight due to a lower intake of calories and fat, but they also saw a big improvement in other health parameters such as their cholesterol! [Poddar 2013]
A healthy diet is a varied diet. And if you're looking to reduce the amount of meat you eat then it can be a good idea to combine mushrooms with other meat substitutes such as eggs, nuts or tofu. Now that's super healthy!
Need some inspiration? Why don't you browse through our recipe section? Just make sure that you keep the 'Vegetarian' box ticked!
- Poddar, K. H., et al. Positive effect of mushrooms substituted for meat on body weight, body composition, and health parameters. A 1-year randomized clinical trial. Appetite (2013)
What is a superfood?
Although it is frequently used by the media and marketeers alike, there seems to be no formal definition of the term "superfood". But, we here at Kyriakides Mushrooms would consider reasonable to expect that a superfood should have the following characteristics:
- Be minimally processed and non-GMO
- Offer nutritional benefits not seen in other commonly eaten foods
- Have a lot of nutrients in a single serving compared to its calorie content
- Does not increase the consumption of saturated fats or other compounds linked to poor health
- Provide other healthy constituents such as antioxidants
- Have research linking it as a potential tool against a long-term disease
- Be affordable
- Be easily accessible
To us, the last two points are the most important. We see little value in a "superfood" that provides nutrition and health benefits if it is "super" expensive or "super" difficult to find. Healthy food needs to be easily available, as easy as walking to your local supermarket. Mushrooms are convenient, can be consumed by almost everyone and can be eaten at any time during the day. Just one serving of 100 g. counts towards your 5-a-day. That's just three white mushrooms or one Portobello. Easy.
The mushroom as a superfood
So let's see how the mushroom fares against the characteristics of a "superfood" we described above. Mushrooms provide the following benefits:
- All our mushrooms are completely natural and free of nutrient enriching or other similar products
- They are very different to vegetables in terms of their nutrient composition. In fact, they provide nutrients in amounts not usually found in vegetables. Just 100 g. of mushrooms provide more than 20% of the guideline daily amounts for six essential nutrients: vitamins B2, B3, B5, B7, copper and selenium.
- Low in calories and with virtually zero fat, mushrooms are perfect for maintaining a healthy weight
- Its antioxidant capacity is similar to, or better than, most common vegetables
- Ongoing academic research indicates that mushrooms may potentially have a role to play towards lowering the risk of cancer.
- Easily accessible, as mushrooms can be found in almost all supermarkets in Cyprus.
Sure, there's no formal definition of the term "superfood" but if there was we're pretty certain that the humble mushroom would be the Rocky Balboa of all superfoods!
Just 100g of mushrooms (three white mushrooms or one Portobello) provide around 1.5g of fibre, which is about 5-6% of the daily fibre needs of an adult. Even better, when they are cooked and lose some water, the level of fibre rises to 2.7g per 100g serve, around 10% of your daily fibre needs.
The key aspects to a healthy heart are maintaining an active lifestyle, not smoking and keeping a balanced weight by following a healthy diet. And everyone knows that healthy eating includes fruit, vegetables, legumes, lean meat and dairy. We now know that eating mushrooms also plays a role in keeping your heart healthy. [Guillamón 2010, Jeong 2010]
Many researchers have found that the mushrooms we love so much lower the bad cholesterol in the blood and help stop the narrowing of the arteries.
There is virtually no fat in mushrooms. Like plant foods, they are cholesterol-free and low in calories. Put all that together and you have a very tasty food that is looking after your heart.
- Guillamón E, et al. Edible mushrooms: role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Fitoterapia 2010.
- Jeong S.C., et al. White button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) lowers blood glucose and cholesterol levels in diabetic and hypercholesterolemic rats. Nutrition Research 2010.
For a long time, scientists have appreciated the antioxidant effect of fresh fruits and vegetables. Mushrooms are a rich source of antioxidants, as confirmed by laboratory analysis. In one study of 30 common vegetables, mushrooms were placed in the top 5 highest antioxidant levels when compared to vegetables. [Pellegrini 2003]
Mushrooms are also very high in a powerful antioxidant called ergothioneine. Ergothioneine is found in very few other vegetables or fruit and appears to protect blood cells by penetrating the nuclei of our cells to protect them from oxidation (damage).
- Pellegrini N., et al. Total antioxidant capacity of plant foods, beverages and oils consumed in Italy assessed by three different in vitro assays. Journal of Nutrition (2003).
Mushrooms are packed with nutrients, with just a single serve of 100g offering a remarkable amount of essential vitamins and minerals. It's like taking a vitamin supplement, only much, much tastier!
But don't take our word for it. Take a look at the table below and you won't believe your eyes!
|Vitamin B2||0.37 mg||
28% in men, 36% in women
|Vitamin B3||3.7 mg||
25% in men, 29% in women
|Vitamin B5||1.15 mg||
19% in men, 29% in women
|Vitamin B7||8.9 μg||
30% in men, 36% in women
|Vitamin B9||18 μg||
5% in men, 5% in women
20% in men, 28% in women
22% in men, 26% in women
11% in men, 11% in women
8% in men, 11% in women
Source: Food Standards Australia New Zealand - NUTTAB 2010