Are Mushrooms Vegetables? Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits Explained

Are mushrooms vegetables

For several years, the mushroom has been a part of the human diet. Many people like the taste of mushrooms, so they don’t care about the nutritional value.

But, are mushrooms vegetables? You can consider the mushroom a special type of fungus. The fungus is the visible fruit body of a mold.

There are various species of fungus available, but only approximately fifty classes are fit for human consumption. Among the edible ones, the mushroom is the most common. But, mushrooms technically are not plants.

Does that mean that mushrooms are not vegetables? Are mushrooms good for you? If so, what nutrition does it provide?

Continue reading to know under what category the mushroom falls. Also, let us consider whether mushrooms are healthy for us or not.

Related Reading: Bok Choy: Benefits, Nutrition and How to Eat

Are Mushrooms Vegetables?

What are mushrooms considered to be? Are mushrooms vegetables? To answer this question, we first need to know the definition of a vegetable. A vegetable is the edible part of the plant.

Are mushrooms vegetables

It can be a root, or stem, leaves or any other part of any edible plant. The mushroom doesn’t have any root, leaves or seeds and it doesn’t need any light to grow.

Thus, you cannot, based on this explanation, consider it a vegetable. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture considers the mushroom a vegetable. It is because of the nutritional attributes present in them.

Mushrooms are great tasting fungi. They are great for aiding a healthy diet. Mushrooms contain antioxidants which are not destroyed while cooking.

We now know that mushrooms are classified as vegetables because of the nutrients they provide. Let us now consider if they are good for us.

Are Mushrooms Good for You?

We know the answer to “are mushrooms vegetables?” There are various types of edible mushrooms. The common among them are Japanese shiitake, Italian porcini, common white button mushroom and portabella, also known as cremini. They differ in shape, color, and texture.

But, are mushrooms good for you? In short, yes. Generally, the food that lacks colors also lacks essential nutrients. Same is not the case with the mushroom which is usually white.

Most of the edible mushrooms are good sources of Vitamin B, iron, selenium and other minerals. They are also helpful in reducing the risk of obesity, diabetes and other heart diseases.

Mushrooms are considered a rich source of calcium, potassium, and dietary fibers. They also neutralize free radicals and have great antioxidant power.

Mushroom Nutrition Facts

We have seen that mushrooms are rich in nutrients. We also know the answer to “are mushrooms vegetables?”

Mushroom health benefits

Mushrooms, known as a functional food contain smaller amounts of cholesterol, fats, and calories. Let us now consider the mushroom’s nutritional facts.

One cup of chopped raw white mushrooms contains:

  • 15 calories
  • 2.2 grams of protein
  • 2.3 grams of carbohydrates, which includes fiber and sugar

Let us now look at the other mushroom nutrition facts. The common elements present in mushrooms are:

  • Protein:  Mushrooms contain a high amount of protein. The amount ranges from twenty to thirty percent.
  • Fiber: It helps in lowering cholesterol. One cup of chopped raw white mushrooms contains 0.7 grams of fiber.
  • Vitamins: Vitamin B serves as a supplement for vegetarians. Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium.
  • Choline: Choline helps to improve sleep and builds up memory.
  • Copper: It helps in absorbing oxygen and building red blood cells.
  • Selenium:  Selenium reduces the risk of cancer.

Along with the above, mushrooms also contain many types of minerals. Some of them are zinc, phosphorus, and magnesium. Mushrooms also have a low level of sodium.

Thus, incorporating mushrooms into our diet can help us maintain a healthier life.

Health Benefits of Eating Mushrooms

Shiitake mushroomYou have the answer to “Are mushrooms vegetables?”

You have also learned that mushrooms are highly nutritional.

Apart from providing energy and a healthy complexion, they also provide various health benefits.

Let us look at mushroom health benefits in detail.

1. Fights Cancer

Mushrooms are rich in antioxidants. They also boost our immune systems because of a unique compound present in them.

Mushrooms contain selenium, a mineral which is absent in fruits and vegetables. It helps in detoxifying cancer-causing compounds.

It also decreases the rate of tumor growth. Freshly cut mushrooms, in the sun, contain high amounts of Vitamin D. This vitamin helps with reducing the chances of cancer. People who eat a lot of mushrooms have lower chances of having breast cancer or stomach cancer.

2. Heart Health and Digestive System

Mushroom health benefits include improving heart health. Fiber is helpful in reducing the risk of heart disease.

To reduce the risk of diabetes, you can consume one cup of grilled portabella mushrooms and one cup of stir-fried shiitake mushrooms on a regular basis.

Both provide three grams of fiber. Fiber also helps in improving the digestive system. Mushrooms contain potassium and sodium which help in reducing blood pressure.

You can also lower your blood cholesterol level by five percent by consuming three grams of beta-glucan per day.

3. Increases Immunity

Selenium stimulates the production of Killer t cells. They help in fighting infections. The beta glucan also helps in preventing tumors.

They help in making insulation resistance better and fighting cancer. Mushrooms also help in maintaining the cholesterol level and building your immune system.

4. Reduces Risk of Obesity

Dietary fibers in the mushroom act as bulking agents in the digestive system. The two types of such fibers are beta glucan and chitin.

They also help with weight management. They can reduce your daily calories by lowering your calorie intake.

Along with the above, mushrooms are rich in choline, too. Choline helps to stabilize the cell membranes of the cells in our body. It also helps nerve impulse transmission.

How to Eat Mushrooms?

As you have understood the benefits of mushrooms, you might now want to know how to include mushrooms in your diet. Mushrooms provide many health benefits. To understand the same, read further.

Sautéed Mushrooms with Eggs:

It brings a savory flavor. Add mushrooms to an omelet, breakfast scrambles, and quiches for a healthy breakfast.

Add Mushrooms to a Salad:

You can add raw sliced cremini mushrooms or white mushrooms to your salad or sliced onions. You can add chopped mushrooms to tuna or egg salad, too. They taste delicious and don’t add calories to your diet.

Sautéed Mushrooms with Ground Beef:

You can add the mushroom to ground beef patties.

Other Uses:

You can grill portabella mushrooms and make sandwiches or wraps using them. You can also use them while baking or mixing your favorite ingredients with it. Furthermore, you can use mushrooms to make soups, casseroles, or stew recipes.

Make sure you don’t have a toxic mushroom as it can lead to severe illness or even death. Eat mushrooms which are cultivated under appropriate conditions to be safe.

People suffering from asthma, arthritis, and lupus should not consume a large number of beta glucans. It can be harmful to people with such conditions.. 

Are Mushrooms Vegetables? Conclusion

You now know that a mushroom is considered a vegetable. You also know about the mushroom nutrition facts and mushroom health benefits, too.

Although mushrooms are considered healthy, you should balance your total diet to get maximum benefits.

All mushrooms aren’t fit for consumption. One must know how to differentiate between a safe and unsafe mushroom. Make sure to incorporate variety into your diet instead of concentrating on a single food item.

Read Next:

Henneman, A., “Is the Mushroom a Vegetable?”, Best Food Facts website, September 03, 2015;
“Mushrooms, White, Raw,” Self Nutrition Data website, last Accessed February 16, 2018;
Ware, M., “What is the nutritional value of mushrooms?”, Medical News Today website, February 23, 2017;

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Dr. David Cummings, MD

David Cummings, MD, is a medical reviewer and editor at Daily Health Cures. David received his medical degree from the University of Illinois.