Mushrooms are one of the lowest-calorie natural foods available, and they have fantastic nutritional benefits. For those reasons, they work very well within a balanced diet for weight loss. However, it's important to be aware that featuring mushrooms in a main dish or snack doesn't automatically make it healthy.
Mushrooms have a plethora of potential benefits. Their substantial, meaty texture and juicy mouthfeel makes them a fantastic low-calorie and low-fat meat substitute, and their versatility means they're easy to grill, boil, bake, roast or sauté. With such a wide variety available in many large grocery stores, it's also easy to get a range of flavors from mushrooms. In addition to a high potassium content, mushrooms are rich sources of several essential minerals, including niacin and selenium. According to the USDA, nutrient-rich vegetables such as mushrooms can help lower risks of obesity and overweight as well as stroke, heart attack, bone loss, kidney stones, cancer and diabetes.
According to the USDA's Nutrient Data Laboratory, a cup of sliced white mushrooms has only 15 calories and 2 g protein, 2 g carbohydrates, nearly 1 g fiber, 1.5 g sugar and less than 0.5 g fat. A cup of portabella mushroom pieces has 19 calories, 2 g protein, 3 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 2 g sugar and less than 0.5 g fat.
Your weight loss plans can begin to derail if you use mushrooms in recipes that are high in calories and fat. Stuffed mushrooms, for example, can be very healthy if they're prepared with other vegetables, broth and low-calorie fillings, but using full-fat cheese and other decadent ingredients produces a snack that isn't very conducive to weight loss. One AllRecipes.com version of stuffed mushrooms is made with clams, bread crumbs, two kinds of cheese and three sticks of butter, and it has close to 400 calories and more than 30 g fat in a serving of just two mushrooms.
If you plan to cook with mushrooms at home and are following a plan for weight loss, focus on preparing low-calorie meals and snacks that use nutritious ingredients and whole, unprocessed foods, which tend to offer more vitamins and minerals. Also, keep in mind that eating too many mushrooms or too much of any one food group at the expense of others is not healthy for weight loss and could lead to nutrient deficiencies. MyPyramid recommends eating a daily mix of whole grains, fruits, nonfat dairy and lean proteins in addition to vegetables. Finally, talk with your doctor before starting any new diet or weight loss plan.