3 Healthy Reasons to Add Mushrooms to Your Plate

Favored in salads and soups for their earthy, smoky and meaty taste, edible mushrooms are found in every supermarket.  Long considered healthful for their medicinal properties, shiitake, enokitake, maitake and oyster mushrooms have been part of the Asian diet for centuries. In the United States, mushrooms are produced in every state, but Pennsylvania accounts for 61% of the country’s mushroom production. Although considered a vegetable, mushrooms are fungi.

These are some good reasons to become a mycophile:

Low-Calorie Option

A 3-oz serving of mushrooms (about 5 medium mushrooms) has just 20 calories. Cut almost half the calories of your pasta or rice dishes by adding mushrooms.  A cup of cooked rice or pasta has 240 calories. Replace half the pasta or rice with mushrooms and shave 100 calories off the dish. Lighten the calorie and fat content of meatloaf by substituting some of the ground meat with finely chopped mushrooms.

Add Flavor without Adding Extra Salt

Mushrooms are a good source of “umami” (pronounced oo-MAH-mee). Umami, a Japanese word, can be translated as pleasant savory taste. Umami rich foods add a special bold flavor to foods reducing the amount of salt needed without having to sacrifice taste.  Because umami boasts the taste of low-sodium foods, adding mushrooms to your favorite dish will decrease the overall salt content of the meal.

Boost your Mineral and Mineral Content

A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry [i] found that white and portabella mushrooms are a good source of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and copper. The American Heart Association recommends including foods rich in potassium to manage blood pressure. The recommended daily dose of potassium for adults is 4,700mg. So how do mushrooms compare to bananas, a well-known food source of potassium? A 3-oz serving of cooked, boiled mushroom [ii] has 300mg of potassium and a medium banana[iii] has 422mg of potassium.   Low vitamin D levels have been associated with increased risk of a plethora of conditions including diabetes. Recommended daily intake of vitamin D is 600 IU. Mushrooms are one of the few good plant sources of Vitamin D. Half-cup of shiitake mushrooms have 20 IU of vitamin D.

For more expert advice click here. 

[i] J. Agric. Food Chem., 2001, 49 (5), pp 2343–2348 DOI: 10.1021/jf001525d

[ii] accessed 3-14-2014

[iii]    accessed 3-14-2014

Additional information  accessed 3-14-2014

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Lorena Drago, MS, RD, CDN, CDE is a registered dietitian, consultant and certified diabetes educator.


Lorena specializes in the multicultural aspects of diabetes self-management education and is an expert in developing culturally and ethnically-oriented nutrition and diabetes education materials. She founded Hispanic Foodways, which received the New York City Small Business Award in 2006. She developed the Nutriportion™ Measuring Cups that has the calorie and carbohydrate amounts of common foods embossed on each cup and the Nutriportion™ Hispanic Food Cards that have pictures and nutrition composition of common Hispanic foods.


Lorena served on the American Association of Diabetes Educators board of directors from 2006-2010, Chair for Latinos and Hispanics in Dietetics and Nutrition. She was Past President of the Metropolitan New York Association of Diabetes Educators in 2004. Lorena won the Diabetic Living People’s Choice Award in 2012.


She is the author of the book Beyond Rice and Beans: The Caribbean Guide to Eating Well with Diabetes published by the American Diabetes Association. She is a contributing author and co-editor of the book Cultural Food Practices and Diabetes, published by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and print communications chair for the Diabetes Care and Education Specialty Practice Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Lorena’s new publication, The 15-Minute Consultation: How to Enhance Learning and Get Your Message Across Every Time will be published in 2014 by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Lorena has appeared on several national TV shows speaking about diabetes management, including The Early Show and dLife TV.


Lorena graduated cum laude from Hunter College of the City University of New York with a Masters of Science degree in Food and Nutrition, and received her BA from Queens College.

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