7 Potential Health Benefits of Mushrooms

Mushrooms are widely known for being a source of strength and healing. This fungus has been treasured by the Greeks who believed that eating mushrooms made their warriors strong. Moreover, Chinese people have always considered them for medicinal uses. It is also believed that the average American consumes nearly three pounds of mushrooms every year as per the data released by the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center.

Packed with a ton of essential nutrients, mushrooms can add flavour to many recipes and can be a healthy addition to your daily diet.

Types of Mushrooms

Scientists have identified many species of mushrooms, but only about two dozen are widely accepted for consumption. Cremini mushrooms which are firm and dark are popularly used around the world while umami mushrooms can also make a good substitute for meat in the kitchen. One of the most common mushrooms in the U.S. is button mushrooms and they have a mild taste.

The other widely available types of mushrooms are as follows −




The shape is like a trumpet


Small in size and has white stems with caps


Fan-shaped with a thin cap


Brown and has a thick, large cap


Thick-stemmed and has a reddish-brown cap


Spongy in appearance


Ivory-coloured stem with a dark brown cap

Nutritional Facts

Mushrooms are a low-calorie food which is loaded with many health-boosting nutrients like vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. Mushrooms which are raised with exposure to ultraviolet light are believed to be a good source of vitamin D which is essential for our bone health and immune system. Cremini mushrooms are considered beneficial for kids as they have zinc which ensures optimal growth in infants and children. Apart from being a rich source of selenium, copper, thiamine, magnesium and phosphorus, mushrooms are also an excellent source of fibre and protein.

Let us look at the table given below to understand the nutritional facts offered in one cup of cremini mushrooms which may be considered a typical serving size.


Quantity (in grams)











After understanding the nutritional value of mushrooms, there's even more reason to include them in your diet and understand their health benefits in detail. The nutrients present in the mushrooms may help protect our health and prevent diseases.

Selenium helps our body to make antioxidants to prevent cellular damage and vitamin B6 supports our nervous system and forms red blood cells. Potassium obtained from mushrooms helps in muscle contraction and to maintain a fluid balance and normal blood pressure in our body. While zinc supports our immune system, riboflavin, niacin and panthothenic acid absorbed by the body from mushrooms can help in the production of energy and carry out metabolic reactions.

Health Benefits of Mushrooms

Mushrooms bring a savoury flavour without adding many calories, fat or sodium. However, the health benefits don't end there. Read on to explore the top seven health benefits that mushrooms have to offer.

Cancer Prevention

Mushrooms are a rich source of antioxidants like glutathione and ergothioneine which helps in preventing cellular damage in the body. As per the meta-analysis published in September 2021, in a journal titled 'Advances in Nutrition', researchers stated that people who frequently consumed mushrooms are at a lower risk of getting any type of cancer as compared to others. Recently, Japan has approved a mushroom-based drug to treat cancer. Some research has found a potential link between lower breast cancer risk and higher mushroom consumption.

Boost Brain Health

A healthy diet is extremely important for an ageing brain and mushrooms can be a part of a wholesome diet. The nutritional value of mushrooms may protect people from a brain condition called mild cognitive impairment (MCI). This is also known as a precursor of Alzheimer's and impacts memory, judgment and thinking skills in people aged 60 or older. As mushrooms are rich in polyphenols, they may aid in protection against certain neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

Promote Cardiovascular Health

As nutrients and plant-based compounds present in mushrooms may help prevent plaque buildup in the blood vessels, they are indeed a boon for the heart. You can easily substitute red meat with low-sodium mushrooms to maintain calories, fat and cholesterol levels in your body and thereby reduce the risk of developing complex cardiovascular diseases.

Also, potassium absorbed through mushrooms can help to control blood pressure by counteracting the ill effects of sodium. This encourages the excretion of sodium in the urine and promotes heart health. Additionally, mushrooms can reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels which may reduce inflammation in the body.

Support Weight Loss

Mushroom-rich diet when combined with the right exercise and healthy lifestyle habits can help in weight loss. People who have substituted meat consumption with mushrooms have shown improved weight loss results. The antioxidants in mushrooms may reduce the risk of hypertension and metabolic disorders and thereby encourage weight loss.

Gut Health

The polysaccharides absorbed by the body from mushrooms pass through the stomach and reach the colon to encourage the growth of healthy bacteria. These bacteria play a major role in maintaining the health of our gut and our mood. Mushrooms contain prebiotics on which these bacteria feed off. Hence, mushrooms can help these microorganisms to aid in digestion and strengthen the health of our gut.

Support Immune System and Bone Health

Our body can manufacture vitamin D from exposure to the sun, but there may arise several factors that may result in a deficiency of vitamin D in our body. Mushrooms have vitamin D which supports muscle function, offers heart-protective properties and reduces the risk of developing cancer and diabetes.

The UV-treated mushrooms have vitamin D and are available in supermarkets with the labels as UV-treated or rich in vitamin D. Mushrooms have ergosterol which transforms to vitamin D when they are exposed to ultraviolet light or extreme sunlight. This ensures your daily intake of vitamin D and promotes bone health along with immunity.

Chronic inflammation is generally connected to many medical conditions like heart disease and cancer. Antioxidants can help protect our bodies from stress and lower the risk of cell damage. These antioxidants are easily available in mushrooms.

Increase Lifespan

Research published in April 2021 in Nutrition Journal presented a study of participants who consumed one serving of mushrooms every day against people who consumed one serving of red meat. They found that people who consumed red meat were at a high risk of death as compared to people who consumed mushrooms.

The meaty and savoury flavour of mushrooms makes it a perfect replacement for red meat in many recipes. Also, mushrooms are high in fibre and low in calories, fat and sodium making them a healthier alternative to a wholesome diet.


Mushrooms are readily available in any grocery or health food store. They shouldn't be sourced from the wild as many mushroom varieties are poisonous. Edible mushrooms can be added to a homemade pizza, salad, sandwich, soup or a side dish. A healthy serving of mushrooms can certainly help to keep a doctor away.

Updated on: 23-Jan-2023


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