Nutrition Overview | Medicine | Minerals | Vitamins

Mushroom Nutrition, a quick overview:
  • Selenium is an essential mineral that plays an important role in the immune system, the thyroid system, the male reproductive system and cancer prevention; mushrooms are the only produce item that contains significant amounts.
  • Mushrooms are high in riboflavin, a B-vitamin that promotes healthy skin and good vision.
  • Niacin, another B vitamin found in mushrooms, ensures that the digestive and nervous systems function as they should.
  • Mushrooms are an important source of potassium; one medium-sized portabella contains more that a banana.
  • Scientists are looking into the role that white mushrooms may play in treating and preventing breast cancer.
  • Laboratory studies suggest that a mushroom extract may help prevent heart disease by reducing blood lipids and cholesterol levels.
  • Researchers are taking a serious look at the medicinal potential of both shiitake and maitake mushroom extracts in the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer.
  • Mushrooms are a low fat, low Carb food, they can contribute good taste and nutrition to any diet plan.
White mushrooms can have closed ceils (caps that fit closely to the stem) with white caps and delicate flavor or open veils with dark caps and richer taste. Represent 90% of mushroom consumed in the U.S. Similar in appearance to white mushrooms but with a light tan to rich brown cap and a firmer texture. Deeper, earthier flavor than white mushrooms. Larger relative of white and crimini mushrooms; caps measure up to 6 inches in diameter. Potabellas have a longer growing cycle, resulting in a deep, meat-like texture and flavor. Tan to dark brown with broad, umbrella-shaped caps, wide-open veils and tan gills. Rich and woodsy with a meaty texture.
Calories 21 19 22 47
Protein g 2.5 2.1 2.1 1.3
Fat g .3 .1 .2 .2
Fiber g 1.0 .5 1.3 1.8
Riboflavin mg
.36 (21%)3 .42 (25%) .41 (24%) .14 (8%)
Niacin mg (%DV) 3.42(17%) 3.23(16%) 3.80(19%) 1.28(6%)
Pantothenic Acid
1.24(12%) 1.28(13%) 1.28(13%) 3.05(30%)
Sodium mg 3 5 5 3
Potassium mg
315(9%)4 380(11%) 411(12%) 99(3%)
Copper mg (%DV) .42(21%) .43(20%) .34(17%) .76(38%)
Selenium mcg
7.4(11%) 22.1(32%) 9.4(13%) 21.1(30%)
1. USDA Database for Standard Reference Release 14; based on FDA reference serving 85 grams; value for uncooked mushrooms except Shiitake
2. A good serving supplies at least 10%DV; and excellent serving supplies at least 20%
3. As much riboflavin as a glass of milk
4. As much potassium recommended for diabetic/hypertensive patients

Mushrooms and Modern Medicine

Traditionally, shiitake mushrooms have been used in ancient China to reduce the frequency of colds and flu, alleviate the pain of headaches and help with constipation, hemorrhoids, diabetes, liver ailments, gout, and boost libidos. Shiitakes are a good source of vitamins A,B, B12, C, D, Niacin and minerals. In addition, they contain all eight essential amino acids in better proportions than soybeans, meat, milk, or eggs . Recently, studies have shown shiitake mushrooms, when taken as an adjunct to chemotherapy, have increased the survival time and contributed to more positive outcomes for cancer patients. Shiitakes have also been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels, help blood pressure and reduce the likelihood of heart disease.

How do they work? Shiitakes contain a substance called eritadenine, which encourages body tissues to absorb cholesterol and lower the amount circulating in the blood. In one Japanese study, 3 oz. of shiitakes eaten a day lowered serum cholesterol 12 points in a week! It even counteracted cholesterol increases caused by adding butter to the diet. Shiitakes also contain polysaccharides, in particular lentinan, which are thought to inhibit cancer by stimulating the body's own immune system. The benefits of shiitakes as well as maitake and reishi mushrooms have been significant enough that researchers at New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center have recommended that shiitakes and other medicinal mushrooms deserve further serious investigation in their application to treating cancer, AIDS, and high cholesterol.

Please note the FDA has not approved the use of medicinal mushrooms.

More than 220,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed this year, roughly the same number of cases as breast cancer. Even more sobering is the fact that every 18 minutes, a man dies of prostate cancer in this country. Despite these devastating statistics, there is hope-through early detection, education about prevention and risk reduction as well as advances in treatment. Thanks to these initiatives, the death rate from prostate cancer has fallen 33 percent in the past seven years.

The causes of prostate cancer are still unknown, but we do know that age, heredity, hormones, diet and lifestyle all play a role. According to the National Cancer Institute, changes in diet--like cutting back on fat, especially saturated fat, and eating more fruits and vegetables--may reduce prostate cancer risk.

Click the "read more" buttons to the left to learn about research and why eating more mushrooms can be a positive step toward prostate health

Mushrooms and the Selenium Connection
Selenium and Prostate Cancer Research

Minerals in Mushrooms

Selenium, an essential mineral, works closely with Vitamin E to produce antioxidants that neutralize the cell-damaging "free radicals" that can increase the risk of cancer and other diseases of aging. It plays an important role in the immune system, the thyroid system and the male reproductive system.

An important study of selenium and cancer risk reduction was conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health. Male health professionals who consumed about 160 micrograms1 of selenium per day cut their risk of prostate cancer by 65%, compared to those with a selenium intake half that large. A member of the research team, Dr. Edward Giovanucci, believes that the evidence for a selenium-prostate cancer link is rapidly accumulating. He suggests that males might consider increasing their selenium intake beyond the current recommended level of 70 micrograms.

It is also possible that dietary selenium helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing the buildup of LDL (bad) cholesterol on artery walls. In addition, selenium appears to slow the progress of HIV disease, and promising studies are exploring whether selenium helps alleviate symptoms of inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, pancreatitis and asthma.2

Foods of animal origin and grains are sources of selenium, but in produce, only mushrooms are a good source of selenium. This is good news for vegetarians, whose sources of selenium are limited. A serving of shiitake or crimini mushrooms provides about one-third of the recommended daily value for selenium. White and portabella mushrooms are also good sources

Potassium is a mineral your body just can't do without. It helps maintain normal heart rhythm, fluid balance, muscle and nerve function. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently gave a nod to its disease-fighting capability by stating: "Diets containing foods that are good sources of potassium and low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke." Some mushrooms supply more potassium than foods better known as sources for this mineral. A serving of white mushrooms has more potassium than an orange or a tomato. A portabella mushroom has more than a glass of orange juice.

Copper is another essential mineral and mushrooms are a good source. We're all aware of iron's role in making red blood cells and delivering oxygen to every part of the body. But did you know that iron can't do its job without copper?

USDA Nutrition Database

Vitamins in Mushrooms

Mushrooms are good sources of three hardworking B-complex vitamins--riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid. They are all found in every cell in our body, helping release energy from the fat, protein and carbohydrate in our food. In addition:

Riboflavin promotes healthy skin and good vision.

Niacin helps make sure the digestive and nervous systems function as they should.

Pantothenic acid is involved in the production of hormones and also plays an important role in the nervous system. Mushrooms are a particularly rich source of riboflavin. One portabella mushroom takes care of nearly one-third our daily value; a serving of white or crimini mushrooms supplies one-quarter of what we need daily. Vegetarians should also be aware that mushrooms are one of the best plant-based sources of niacin around.