Health Benefits of Baby Bella Mushrooms

Baby bella mushrooms, also known as criminis, are a type of fungus commonly used while cooking, says Bon Appetit. In addition to its appealing taste, baby bella mushrooms provide a number of important health benefits. Mushrooms should be eaten within two to three days of their sell-by date for optimal taste and nutrition benefits, notes "Principles of Food Science."

Baby bella mushrooms originated in the grasslands of Europe and North America (Reference 1). (Image: Blue Jean Images/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Basic Baby Bella Mushroom Nutrition

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 1 cup of baby bella mushrooms contains 19 calories, four grams of carbohydrate, two grams of protein, and a half gram of fiber. In addition, baby bella mushrooms provide moderate amounts of potassium and phosphorous -- 448 and 120 mg in one serving, respectively -- both of which are important minerals for optimal health. Finally, baby bells provide other vitamins and minerals in trace amounts, including calcium, magnesium, sodium and folate (Reference 2).

Improved Immune Function

Baby bella mushrooms can lead to improvements in immune system function, according to "Nutrition Therapy and Pathophysiology." In fact, the phytonutrients found in baby bella mushrooms can promote activity shifts in white blood cells in the body, including mircrophages, macrophages, and dendritic cells (Reference 3). Over time, the activation or deactivation of certain white blood cells can prevent or reduce the risk of diabetes, arthritis, and other health conditions (Reference 3). Though fresh baby bell mushrooms are highly effective at boosting immune system function, dried or powdered alternatives can also aid in the clearance of pro-inflammatory molecules (Reference 3).

Reduced Risk of Chronic Disease

Baby bella mushrooms can also be effective in the prevention of a number of chronic health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer (Reference 3). In fact, baby bella mushrooms have been shown to contain high amounts of conjugated linolenic acid -- which decreases estrogen production and may reduce the risk of some forms of breast cancer, says "Nutrition Therapy and Pathophysiology." Similarly, baby bella mushrooms can lower the risk of oxidative damage to blood vessels in the heart, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Regularly consuming Baby bella mushrooms can also reduce the risk of hyperlipidemia, diabetes, and alzheimer's disease.

Enhanced Bone Health

In addition to its macronutrient content, baby bella mushrooms also contain certain micronutrients, including vitamin D. Uniquely, concentrations of this micronutrient are increased when the product is exposed to light -- and therefore, the specific values of vitamin D may vary depending on the locale in which the mushrooms were grown (Reference 3). While there are a number of benefits associated with vitamin D intake, its role in bone health through the absorption of calcium and phosphorous is especially crucial (Reference 4).

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