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Healthy Eating 101: White Button Mushroom Benefits

picture of white button mushrooms

White Button Mushrooms: you see them all the time in grocery stores or farmer’s markets. Not only are they easy to cook with, but white button mushrooms are packed with nutritious vitamins and minerals, and they provide lots of healthy benefits. Read on to learn all about the health benefits of white button mushrooms and how to incorporate white button mushrooms into your daily diet.

What exactly are white button mushrooms?

Button mushrooms are perhaps one of the most ubiquitous mushrooms on the market these days. They’re easily found in nearly every grocery store, and they are typically incorporated into stir frys, pizzas, and soups, among many other dishes. You may also hear them called table mushrooms or champignon mushrooms. Visually, they have a small stem with a smooth cap, and the flavor is pretty mild, which makes it easy to incorporate white button mushrooms into various culinary dishes. They are usually found fresh, but can also be found canned, frozen, and powdered.

The white button mushroom’s latin name is agaricus bisporus, and it’s one of the fungi kingdom’s edible mushrooms that can actually be harvested at many different stages of growth. Though most button mushrooms are white, they can also vary in color. When they’re young and white in color- that’s our button mushroom! But they can also be young and tan in color- those are what we call crimini mushrooms. When they’re fully grown and mature- they are known as portobello mushrooms. That’s right! Surprisingly they’re all the same mushroom, simply harvested at different points in its growth cycle. Luckily, no matter when you harvest the mushroom, you can still reap all of the white button mushroom benefits.

Health Benefits of White Button Mushrooms

Even though we tend only to think of white button mushrooms when we’re ordering pizza or throwing dinner together in the kitchen, there are actually a lot of health benefits of white mushrooms. They are nutritive, can provide essential vitamin D, and contain important antioxidants that can affect immunity, heart health and metabolic function.

White Button Mushrooms Provide A Lot of Nutrients

Button mushrooms actually provide a lot of nutrition to our meals! The breakdown of these fungi show that in a one cup serving, agaricus bisporus contains just as much potassium as a banana, and can deliver between up to 30 percent of your daily recommended intake of the B vitamins 1 & 2. B vitamins are essential for health, helping to make sure that your body’s cells function properly and efficiently. B vitamins also help to metabolize your food into energy, create new blood cells, and keep various tissues throughout the body strong and healthy including your skin, hair, and nails.

Thanks to the Vitamin B found in white button mushrooms, it’s possible that regular consumption of these mushrooms can help boost your mood! A study found that white mushrooms contained 8% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin B-6 and portobello mushrooms contained 10% of this important vitamin. In fact, B-6 is responsible for helping you make and regulate the hormones that influence your mood and keep your brain functioning well.

White Button Mushrooms are a Natural Source of Vitamin D

Mushrooms are one of the only plant foods out there that contain a natural source of vitamin D. Vitamin D is an absolutely essential vitamin that not only keeps our bones strong and immune system intact, but also affects our mood, our cognitive function, and our gut health!

Mushrooms in general contain small amounts of Vitamin D, and studies have continually shown that when they’re exposed to the sun, they can make even more! A 2016 study showed that the vitamin D from mushrooms is vitamin D2, with lesser amounts of D3 and D4. When compared to supplements, mushrooms were as effective as D2 supplements in both raising and maintaining the level of vitamin D in your blood. In order to reap the vitamin D benefits from mushrooms, it’s important that the mushrooms have been cultivated under the sun, or under ultraviolet light. You can check your food labels to make sure you’re buying UV-grown mushrooms, or you can just put your mushrooms out in the sunshine for a couple of hours before cooking.

White Button Mushrooms are a Good Source of Protein

Perhaps one of the surprising health benefits of white button mushrooms is that they are a good source of protein as well! Protein is important for the creation of new cells, helps repair wounds, regulate the endocrine system, as well as playing an important role in the growth and development of children, teens and pregnant people. When we think about ways to incorporate protein into our diets, we often tend to think of lean meats or perhaps legumes. And while these are great sources, button mushrooms can provide this essential nutrient too. Fun fact: 200 grams of button mushrooms (about 1 ½ cups) contains similar amounts of protein as an egg!

White Button Mushrooms are High in Antioxidants/Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Research has shown that mushrooms of all types, including button, have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can help improve health in many ways. Indeed, studies have found that button mushrooms are particularly high in glutathione, an important antioxidant that helps your body combat free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that cause oxidative stress in the body like heart disease and diabetes.. Glutathione can help make DNA, improve immunity, and help the body breakdown and assimilate dietary fats.

Additionally, numerous antioxidant compounds like polyphenols, polysaccharides, and glutathione are indicated in research regarding cancer treatments. Nutrition Today reported that button mushrooms contain an important carbohydrate called polysaccharides. Polysaccharides have been positively indicated in fighting cancers and tumor cells because they boost the immune’s system’s ability to fight off cancer naturally.

Polysaccharides have also been indicated in treatment of diabetes as a way to help lower blood sugar and improve cell’s response to insulin. In a recent study, mushrooms neutral polysaccharide helped to enhance insulin sensitivity in vitro, lowered blood glucose, and helped to metabolize fats, making mushrooms a glycemic friendly food. One specific type of polysaccharide found in mushrooms is called beta glucan. It helps to stimulate your immune activity, specifically the immune cells that protect the body from infection and foreign pathogens.

In a study published in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, researchers focused on white button mushrooms and folks with metabolic syndrome – a pathology that typically progresses to Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that not only affects a person’s ability to produce insulin, but can cause numerous health complications and can affect their liver, kidneys, and blood pressure among other things. In this study, researchers noted that a healthy lifestyle and diet can slow the progression of this disease, and that white button mushrooms in particular can play a role due to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds within the mushrooms.

Another white button mushroom benefit is that compounds found in button mushrooms called flavonoids have the potential to act as both antioxidants and pro-oxidants. While this may sound confusing, this is actually a good thing! Cells have a natural life and death cycle. We are constantly getting rid of old cells and creating new ones simultaneously. When cells refuse to die, they typically become cancer and tumor cells. The compounds called flavonoids work in two ways: when they are antioxidants, they help improve healthy cell survival, and when they act as pro-oxidants, they help encourage apoptosis, which is the natural cell death that helps prevent tumor growth.

White Button Mushrooms Help Improve Immune Function

White button mushrooms are rich in both vitamin C and selenium. Both of these nutrients offer properties that enhance your immune system’s production of its most protective immune cells and help defend against cancers and other pathogens, as well as helping to keep cancer from spreading.

Additionally, the health and strength of our gut and gut flora are directly linked to our immunity. There are numerous studies which show that mushrooms are a powerful prebiotic- this means that they feed our microbiome. Prebiotics are food for our body’s good gut bacteria. Feeding our bacteria properly helps to repopulate our guts with good bacteria which can have implications on our digestion, mood, and immunity. A research analysis on the health benefits of white button mushrooms from Science Direct found strong correlations between mushroom’s prebiotic content and immune function, weight & inflammation.

Other studies suggest that button mushrooms can improve immune function by increasing the system’s production of antiviral proteins. A study from the Nutritional Immunology Lab in Boston showed that white button mushrooms enhanced the maturity of the immune cells found within bone marrow. This is important in everyday immunity, as well as cancer research as the bone marrow cells, called “dendritic cells” are responsible for making T cells, which are specialized cells that recognize foreign pathogens, and fight cancer cells.

White Button Mushrooms May Help Improve Heart Disease

Research has also shown that button mushrooms can positively improve heart disease. Heart disease is something that affects millions of folks these days. Oxidative stress and inflammation are strongly linked to heart disease and compounds found in white button mushrooms like beta glucans and ergothioneine may help reduce the risk of illness, because they both work to help the body lower triglycerides and cholesterol. Studies have also found that the compound in button mushrooms called ergothioneine could help slow arterial plaque development, a risk factor for heart disease that can typically lead to high blood pressure, and even stroke.

How to incorporate white button mushrooms into your daily routine:

Adding button mushrooms into your diet can be easy and fun. Since they are easy to find, and mild in flavor, white mushrooms can be added to nearly any dish without changing the dish’s original flavors too much. The quickest way to start would be to throw a handful into your favorite stir fry or soup. These mushrooms soak up the flavors and lend a tender, chewy texture to your meal.

For the more adventurous cooking crowd, try adding powdered button mushrooms into your smoothies, or stir the powder into your morning oatmeal. It blends in easily and gives your breakfast a quick boost of protein and vitamin d to get your day started off on the right foot.

You can also try stuffing mushrooms! Gather your favorite herbs, along with some cheese and breadcrumbs. Mix everything together, then hollow out the cap of the mushroom. Put the stuffing mixture into the cap and then bake until the mushrooms have softened and the breadcrumbs are crispy.

Any way you add this versatile funghi into your diet will provide lots of white button mushroom benefits and support your healthy living journey.

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