7 Potential Health Benefits of Mushrooms

Even if you’re eating them raw in a salad, fungi are on fire right now. In 2019, sales of mushrooms and mushroom-based products grew 33 percent compared with the previous year, the industry magazine Nutritional Outlook reported in 2021.

Nutrition experts are excited about fungi. “Mushrooms are low in calories. They also provide a wealth of macro and micronutrients, particularly B vitamins, selenium, zinc, and copper,” says Katherine Brooking, RD, a registered dietitian in New York City and a co-creator of the Appetite for Health syndicated weekly news series. B vitamins are important in the manufacture of energy in cells, she explains. And selenium is a powerful antioxidant, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements, while zinc and copper are essential for a strong immune system.

It’s clear that whole mushrooms that you eat raw or cook for use in recipes are beneficial for your health, and these, rather than mushrooms in processed forms, are what we’re focusing on in this story. Other forms — supplements, nutraceuticals, and mouth sprays, for instance — may provide other benefits, but additional research is needed.

The most popular mushroom produced in the United States is the white button mushroom, says Kim Bedwell of the Mushroom Council. “Other varieties, such as cremini — also known as baby bella — and portobellos are becoming increasingly popular,” she says. You’re also more likely to find specialty mushrooms (such as shiitakes, oysters, and maitakes) at mainstream grocery stores, she says. You have a lot of choices, depending on your taste preferences — and that means a lot of ways to enjoy the following seven health benefits of mushrooms.

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