Australians love their mushrooms
The common button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) is now so popular that four out of five people enjoy mushrooms, with 36% of them eating mushrooms three or more times a week. Their increasing popularity has seen mushroom consumption increase five-fold since 1980. The mushroom story is not just about flavour and nutrition. This century has seen an explosion of research about the influence mushrooms are having on our health.
The mushroom is not a fruit or a vegetable
First, we should make it clear that mushrooms are not plants. They evolved at a different time to plants (Carroll 2001). This helps to explain why the mushroom has a different nutrition profile to fruit and vegetables. Please eat your vegetables, but the evidence is mounting that having mushrooms in the diet complements vegetables and offers unique health benefits. In fact, the latest research indicates that it is a smart decision to eat mushrooms daily as they influence blood lipids, blood glucose, immunity and weight control, and offer many essential nutrients and antioxidants. So, rather than eating five vegetable serves a day, try eating four serves of vegetables and one serve of mushrooms for good health.
- The mushroom lives in its own biological kingdom. That means it is not a plant, so it has a very different nutrition profile to that of fruit and vegetables.
- The characteristic savoury flavour of the mushroom comes from natural glutamates. With mushrooms in the meal, there is no need for any added flavour enhancers like salt or MSG.
- A serve of mushrooms provides over 20% of the RDI for each of the B vitamins riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, and the minerals selenium and copper.
- Mushrooms have bio-available vitamin B12 on the surface and in the flesh.
- Mushrooms naturally have vitamin D. They are the only non-animal food to have natural vitamin D, generated automatically when they are exposed to light.
- Not only are mushrooms very low in kilojoules and energy density, research reveals that they are filling and dampen the appetite at subsequent meals.
- Australian research suggests that women eating 10g mushrooms or more daily have a 50-65% lower risk of breast cancer compared to those women who don’t eat mushrooms. There are unique compounds in mushrooms that may protect us from both breast and prostate cancer.
- The mushroom has all the attributes of a superfood – nutrient-rich, flavour-rich, low in kilojoules, high in bioactive compounds, antioxidants, convenient and affordable.
- A normal serve of mushrooms is 100g (three button mushrooms or one flat mushroom), a simple and delicious way to get at least one of your 2&5 serves each day for under a $1 a serve.
Please read through the topics in this section for an explanation about the health benefits of the mushroom. A list of scientific references used in each section is also included for those who may wish to read further on the background of these topics.