The Health Benefits of Button Mushrooms

There are 2,000 edible types of mushrooms, but the white button mushroom is the one that's most commonly eaten worldwide, according to a November 2014 report in Nutrition Today. Many people may choose the shiitake mushroom for its umami flavor, but white mushrooms have health benefits to offer too.

The white button mushroom is the one that's most commonly eaten worldwide.
Credit: "Timmann, Claudia"/Foodcollection/GettyImages

Mushrooms are one of the only foods with natural vitamin D — a vitamin that helps keep your bones and immune system strong — and they're also rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor (or anti-cancer) compounds that can help fight off chronic disease and keep you healthy.

Read more: Mushroom Identification: Your Guide to Edible Mushrooms

Nutrition Facts for White Mushrooms

When discussing white mushroom health benefits, it's helpful to look at the breakdown of macronutrients, or protein, carbohydrates, and fat, and micronutrients, or vitamins and minerals. According to the USDA, 1 cup of whole white button mushrooms contains:

  • 21 calories
  • 3 grams of protein
  • 0.3 grams of fat
  • 3.1 grams of carbohydrates
  • 1 gram of fiber
  • 2.9 milligrams of calcium
  • 0.5 milligrams of iron
  • 8.6 milligrams of magnesium
  • 82.6 milligrams of phosphorus
  • 305 milligrams of potassium
  • 8.9 milligrams of selenium
  • 16.3 micrograms of folate
  • 6.7 international units of vitamin D

Read more: Nutritional Benefits of White Mushrooms

Although a button mushroom has a lot to offer when it comes to vitamins and minerals, the most notable may be the vitamin D content. There aren't a lot of foods that contain significant amount of natural vitamin D, but according to a report that was published in Nutrients in October 2018, mushrooms can make nutritionally relevant amounts of vitamin D when they're exposed to the sun.

The report notes that the vitamin D from mushrooms, which is vitamin D2, is as effective as the vitamin D2 in supplements at raising and maintaining the level of vitamin D in your blood. Vitamin D helps you absorb calcium, which keeps your bones strong, and can reduce inflammation and boost immune function, according to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements.

However, mushrooms not grown under ultraviolet light do not produce vitamin D, so they are not a source of this nutrient. Consult the food label to make sure you're selecting UV-grown mushrooms.

White Mushroom Health Benefits

But it's not just the vitamins and mineral in the button mushroom that make it beneficial. Research connects white mushrooms and health benefits that come from other compounds in the fungi too.

The 2014 report in Nutrition Today notes that button mushrooms contain a type of carbohydrate called polysaccharides that have been shown to have anti-tumor, or cancer-fighting, effects on mushrooms. The researchers from the report explain that the polysaccharides don't fight off the tumors directly, but rather they boost the immune system so that your body can naturally fight it off on its own.

The authors of another study that was published in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition in September 2016 looked at how consumption of white button mushrooms could positively affect people with metabolic syndrome, a condition that can eventually progress to Type 2 diabetes.

These researchers noted that a healthy diet and lifestyle can slow or prevent this progression and that white button mushrooms can play a role in that. According to the report, button mushrooms contain several different anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that may help improve health in adults who are predisposed to Type 2 diabetes.

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