The Health Benefits of the Mighty Mushie You Might Not Know About, According to a Doctor

In case you weren’t aware, mushrooms are trending in a big way right now. Yes, we’re talking about the Mighty Mushy you might use to make one mean burger at dinner time. They’re now adorning models walking down international runways as the mushroom motif takes off in the latest fashion collections like Stella McCartney’s Spring/Summer 2022 show.

But not only do mushrooms looks good, they taste even better and hold some wonderful health benefits that you might not know about. That’s why The Latch spoke to Nutrition Research Australia’s Dr Flavia Fayet-Moore, who has been researching mushrooms to better understand their health benefits and has contributed to discovering some exciting recent advancements.

So if you needed an excuse to include more delicious mushrooms in your diet, here are some of the nutritional upsides you can look forward to as well:

Mushrooms Are a Nutrition All-Rounder

If you consider mushrooms to be vegetables, you wouldn’t be the only one. Yet Dr Flavia said they are actually more similar to animals than they are to plants (keep that fact in your pocket for pub trivia) and have a variety of health benefits.

“We published the world’s first systematic review last year on the health benefits of the humble mushroom (flat, cup, Swiss brown, button and Portobello) in humans and found that they help increase vitamin D status, reduce inflammation, make you feel full, support gut and heart health and immune function,” Dr Flavia said.

They Support Energy and Reduce Fatigue

As many of us emerge out of lockdowns for the first time in recent months, it’s likely you could be finding yourself unexpectedly busy and somewhat fatigued. According to Dr Flavia, mushrooms are a great antidote for this, containing five B vitamins, antioxidants and essential minerals which can help support energy and reduce fatigue.

Australian Mushrooms contain five B vitamins, selenium, copper, beta-glucans, and the amino acid ergothioneine. Copper and selenium are important for normal immune function, B vitamins for energy, and prebiotics for gut health,” she said.

They Support Your Immunity, Gut and Skin

While some health trends undoubtedly come and go, mushrooms are here to stay. Not only are they super easy to cook and consume but they contain key nutrients that support your immunity, gut, skin, hair and nails naturally.

“Mushrooms contain key nutrients like selenium and vitamin D, which help promote a healthy immune system. Not only this, but the nutrients in mushrooms contribute to healthy skin, hair and nails and can even support your mood,” Dr Flavia said.

“They also contain the unique prebiotic ‘chitin’, which is not found in grains nor vegetables. Prebiotics feed the good bacteria in your gut.”

They’re One of the Only Natural and Vegan Sources of Vitamin D

As it turns out, while you shouldn’t tan your skin, you can tan your mushrooms. Dr Flavia explained this was the standout finding from her research, identifying that putting just three cups (or five button mushrooms) in the sun for 15 minutes can boost their vitamin D contents to 100% of your daily needs.

“This is super relevant, because of lockdowns, restrictions, and Australia coming out of winter, many Australians are now lacking vitamin D, or the ‘sunlight’ vitamin,” Dr Flavia said.

“Our review also identified three bioactives in mushrooms that stand out above all other foods: ergothioneine, ergosterol (a precursor to vitamin D), and chitin. Mushrooms are the top source of the amino acid ergothioneine in our diet, and ergothioneine promotes a healthy immune response.”

All Mushrooms Pack a Nutritional Punch

Can’t decide which type of mushroom is your favourite between brown and white including cup, flat, swiss brown and Portobello? Well that’s okay because while you get more of one bioactive in one mushroom versus another, in the end the health benefits are the same. Afterall, Portobello mushrooms are just button mushrooms that are left longer to grow.

“What matters is to choose the one you like, and that you will actually eat to reap the health benefits,” Dr Flavia said.

“The most well-known Australian Mushrooms are the white button type, and that’s because this particular mushroom is the most produced mushie in Australia.”

They’re Good for Your Long-Term Health

The Mighty Mushie is low in calories, contains B vitamins, essential minerals, and antioxidants, so it should come as no surprise that it also offers long term health-benefits.

“Our review identified that the humble mushroom reduces cancer risk and cancer metabolites; and another systematic review on mushrooms and cancer specifically published just in March this year, showed that any type of mushroom being consumed was associated with lower risk of cancer,” Dr Flavia said.

The best part is, these findings were shown at levels of consumption as low as 18g of mushrooms per day, which is about half a button mushroom. With results like that, there’s really no excuse when it comes to including mushrooms in your diet.

Read more stories from The Latch and subscribe to our email newsletter.