Beefy, juicy and full of flavor, portobellos are a mushroom lover's delight. For very few calories, you can throw some large portobello mushroom caps on the grill instead of a high-calorie hamburger. You'll save more than 150 calories, but your taste buds won't feel cheated.
Calories in Portobello Mushrooms
There are only 22 calories in portobello mushrooms per 3.5 ounces, according to USDA data. This amount is only 1 percent of a typical 2,000-calorie daily diet for the average adult. That's less than 3.5 ounces of broccoli, carrots and kale.
If you're trying to shed pounds by cutting calories, you may be trying to eat fewer calories than usual. According to the National Institutes of Health, most women can lose weight consuming 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day, and most men and active women can lose weight on 1,500 to 1,800 calories a day. One large portobello cap would make up less than 2 percent, at most, of your daily energy intake.
Portobellos are low in calories, but they're certainly not lacking in nutrition. A large portobello mushroom cap weighing 3.5 ounces has more than 2 grams of plant-based protein, less than one-half gram of fat and fewer than 4 grams of carbohydrate. Fiber makes up one-third of its carb content.
There's no shortage of micronutrients, either. One large portobello mushroom cap offers close to 10 percent of the daily value (DV) for the minerals phosphorus and potassium, more than 25 percent of the DV for the B vitamin niacin and nearly a quarter of the DV for pantothenic acid, another B vitamin.
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The ratio of calories to weight makes portobellos a low-energy-dense food. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, low-energy-dense foods have few calories per gram and can help people manage their weight. Because they are so low in calories, you can enjoy them in larger quantities and feel satisfied without the guilt.
As an example, 3.5 ounces of raw ground beef has 179 calories. You could eat eight large portobello mushrooms — almost 2 pounds — for the same amount of calories as one small hamburger patty. You'll get less protein, but you'll also get less saturated fat — the kind that can raise cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease and stroke, warns the American Heart Association.
If your goal is weight loss, replacing higher-calorie foods with low-energy-dense foods like portobello mushrooms is an effective strategy. Combine your portobellos with other low-energy-dense, fiber-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans.
Portobello Prep Tips
Next time you're throwing a backyard BBQ, prep some large portobello mushroom caps and get the plant-based party started. Brush both sides of portobello mushroom caps with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and throw them on a hot grill. Cook for four to five minutes each side.
Mushrooms are porous and easily soak up flavorful marinades. Mix up some balsamic vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, thyme and salt. Place the marinade and the mushrooms in a large, resealable plastic bag and toss to coat. Allow them to soak in the marinade for 30 minutes at room temperature before grilling.
There are so many other ways to prepare portobellos, from simply sauteed to stuffed with spinach, onions and feta cheese. Serve them as part of a caprese salad with sliced tomatoes, fresh basil and low-fat mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle them with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. It's an easy dish to prepare that will wow your taste buds and your dinner guests.
- USDA: "Mushrooms, Portabella, Raw"
- USDA: "Carrots"
- USDA: "Kale"
- USDA: "Broccoli"
- NIH: "Healthy Eating Plan"
- NIH: "Dietary Supplement Label Database"
- CDC: "Low-Energy-Dense Foods and Weight Management: Cutting Calories While Controlling Hunger"
- American Heart Association: "Saturated Fat"
- USDA: "Organic Ground Beef"