The Wonders of Mushrooms: A Beginner's Guide to These Amazing Plant Foods

The Wonders of Mushrooms: A Beginner's Guide to These Amazing Plant Foods

Did you know mushrooms are not just for adding flavor to your pasta dish or topping your steak? In fact, this humble fungus is actually one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet! Mushrooms are an excellent source of vitamin D (when exposed to sunlight), copper, selenium, zinc, and magnesium. They’re also a great source of B vitamins (especially riboflavin), phosphorus, and ergothioneine. What is ergothioneine, you ask? It’s an antioxidant found almost exclusively in mushrooms and has many beneficial properties when consumed regularly. These common fungi are low in calories and protein, making them an ideal food for weight management and strength training. Moreover, mushrooms are rich in fiber.

Can You Believe These Stats?

Mushrooms are low in fat and protein and an excellent source of B vitamins, vitamin D, and trace minerals! The daily recommended intake for vitamin D is between 400-800 IU, but if you encounter low sunlight exposure during the year, you may want to supplement with an additional 1000 IU. Vitamin B6 can be found in mushrooms at a rate of 8.8 mcg per 100 grams. According to the Institute of Medicine, adults need about 1.2 mg of B6 daily. Vitamin B6 is most commonly used to help metabolize amino acids, produce serotonin and break down carbohydrates. This vitamin also prevents birth defects, treats carpal tunnel syndrome, and relieves PMS symptoms. Vitamin D promotes healthy bones, regulates the immune system, and avoids certain types of cancers. Mushrooms also contain minerals essential for various biochemical processes in the body. Iron is critical for transporting oxygen throughout the body and regulating energy levels. Potassium helps to regulate blood pressure and function as a crucial electrolyte.

5 Health Benefits of Mushrooms

The health benefits of mushrooms are significant, but what are the benefits? Let’s take a look.

  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency can lead to all sorts of diseases, like diabetes, autoimmune diseases, depression, and even cancer. Mushrooms provide an excellent source of vitamin D, one of the few non-animal foods that contain it.
  • Vitamin B2: Vitamin B2, riboflavin, is vital for energy metabolism, red blood cell production, and a healthy nervous system.
  • Magnesium: Magnesium is used to relax muscles and prevent cramps. It’s also beneficial for bone health, energy metabolism, and regulating blood pressure.
  • Folate: Folate is essential for preventing birth defects in developing fetuses. 
  • Copper: Copper creates red blood cells, metabolizes iron, and prevents anemia.
  • Manganese: Manganese is used to build strong bones, regulate blood sugar, and prevent certain types of cancers.

3 Tasty and Nutritious Types of Mushrooms to Try

  • Shiitake: Shiitake mushrooms are used in Asian cuisine and are also great for your health. One cup of these tasty fungi contains about 6 grams of protein, about 12% of your daily value of iron, and about 20% of your daily value of vitamin B2. These mushrooms have a much higher zinc content than other mushrooms, which makes them an excellent option for athletes and other physically active folks.
  • Morel mushrooms have a unique and delicious flavor that’s become more prevalent in recent years. One cup of these delicious mushrooms contains about 9 grams of protein and about 20% of your daily value of vitamin B2.
  • Lion’s Mane: Lion’s mane mushrooms have a unique texture and flavor similar to a mix of seafood and eggs. One cup of these mushrooms contains about 7 grams of protein and about 20% of your daily value of B2.


Mushrooms are a delicious and nutritious staple in many diets all over the world. They’re low in calories, high in protein, and an excellent source of vitamin D, B vitamins, magnesium, and copper. Now is a great time to start if you’re not enjoying these health-boosting fungi. There's a huge variety at the market, so you can easily find one that suits your taste buds and your diet!

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