Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Food Worship #12: Mushrooms

Ah yes, mushrooms, those strange looking fungi that taste oh so good when sauteed and placed on top of pizza, philly cheese steaks, or in my case, salmon burgers and salads.  These little guys are quite unique, and while there are many different kinds, today we're going to look at the mushrooms you commonly find in those blue Styrofoam tubs in the grocery store called white button mushrooms.  They're easy to find, delicious, and go well with almost anything.  Seriously, if that plate looks a little bare, it's not hard to throw a few mushrooms at it.  And there are many reasons why you should do just that.

First, a little background of the white button mushroom.  Its formal scientific name is Agaricus bisporus, and according to Wikipedia it is also called by the names: common mushroombutton mushroomwhite mushroomtable mushroomchampignon mushroomcrimini mushroomSwiss brown mushroomRoman brown mushroomItalian brown,Italian mushroom, and cultivated mushroom.  That's quite a few names to keep track of, if I don't say so myself.  Amazingly, when these things are full grown, their known by a much more familiar name, the Portobello mushroom.  Funny how things work, right?  Nowadays, the white button mushroom is grown and cultivated all across the world.  The process isn't too complicated, first a bed of manure and fertile soil is put down and raised to about 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  The mushroom spawn are then laid over this growing bed, which is in a dark, sun-free location, and the temperature is then dropped to around 55 degrees Fahrenheit as the spawn take root.  The spawn are then covered with about an inch of soil, and 3-4 weeks later they're ready for harvest and use in your recipes!

But why is this simple food so darn good for you (and tasty)?  Well, let's explore the actual composition of these little mushrooms, and the nutritional benefits that lay within each one just waiting to spice up your diet and do your body some real good:

Immune System Support:  White button mushrooms can help you stay healthy throughout the year with a couple of unique nutritional benefits they offer.  Certain chemicals in these mushrooms actually interact with your white blood cells, and allow them to do their job more effectively.  In simple terms, if your body needs more active white blood cells, the white button mushroom can help to activate a greater number of cells to assist your body.  That's really an interesting trait of ANY food, and what's more the white button mushroom is actually BETTER at supporting your immune system than almost any other (more expensive or exotic) mushroom type.  Cool!

Antioxidants:  White button mushrooms are a food rich with all sorts of antioxidant benefits as well.  Each mushroom is packed with antioxidant related nutrients like zinc, selenium, and manganese, and these little mushrooms are also excellent at helping your body to produce its own oxidative enzymes to help prevent cell damage from oxidation.  

Heart Health:  These mushrooms also are conducive to helping that heart of yours to beat stronger and more efficiently.  They have incredible anti-inflammatory properties which cause your veins to remain less constricted, and the antioxidant benefits you receive from each mushroom can help to protect your blood cells, veins, and arteries from free radical damage.  These little guys also have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff) quite effectively, which is definitely a help for remaining healthy in later years.  

Vitamins/Minerals:  You knew it was coming, time to look at all the other little goodies that white button mushrooms come packaged with that will help your body to remain healthy and strong.  This time, I'll list it in chart form, to hopefully let you see the nutritional profile of these mushrooms a little more clearly.

White Button Mushrooms have:

9%   DV vitamin B1
40% DV vitamin B2
27% DV vitamin B3
21% DV vitamin B5
52% DV selenium
10% DV of both zinc and manganese

These mushrooms are VERY nutrient dense, and clearly can add a lot to any meal.  Here are the nutritional facts for 1 CUP of white button mushrooms:

Nutrition Facts
Calories 21(88 kJ)
% Daily Value 1
Total Fat0.3g< 1%
Sat. Fat< 0.1g< 1%
Sodium5mg< 1%
Total Carbs.3.2g1%
Dietary Fiber1g4%
As you can see, these mushrooms are low in carbs, high in fiber, and have almost no fat.  I munch on them raw sometimes as a low calorie, filling, and delicious snack.  I suggest you try some out; they're actually quite tasty.  If you don't like them raw, saute them up (without using too much butter) and add them to almost any dinner without any trouble whatsoever.  It's a great low calorie filler that tastes heavenly.

So there you have it, the white button mushroom.  I strongly suggest you try a few of these in your next available meal, and I can almost guarantee you'll be glad you did.  They're tasty, nutritious, and readily available at your nearest grocery store.  So what are you waiting for?  Go pick up some fungus!

Be creative, enjoy your buttons, and as always, GOOD LUCK!



  1. definitely a delicious ingredient! And behind its delicious taste, it hides many great health benefits. One of its amazing health benefits is that it helps protect and repair the tissue in our body. It helps prevent diseases that can cause an inflammation of your immune system.

  2. Nice blog. Mushrooms can also used to reduce stress and prevent fatigue. you have shared very nice and very useful information. Thank you for sharing. Garden of life primal defense