The Healthiest Mushrooms: Their Health Benefits and Buying Guide

Last Updated on November 13, 2020 by James Matthews

Mushrooms are something that most people have strong opinions about. Some people really dislike them and some people love them beyond belief. There has to be logic to both sides though, and one reason a lot of people love mushrooms is because of their amazing health benefits.

From helping prevent cancer to helping lower your cholesterol there is no end to the benefits that mushrooms can provide. They have protein, fiber, vitamin D, C, and more.

Finding the healthiest mushroom for you and your tastes can be a difficult journey since there are so many different kinds. This article will outline the healthiest mushrooms available to you, what they taste like, and what their benefits are.

What is a Mushroom?

A mushroom is defined as a fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus. So essentially each kind of mushroom is simply a different kind of fungus. Going along with each of these types of fungus comes a different name.

Generally, the names of mushrooms are difficult to pronounce or even read. This is because they go by the scientific names of the fungus, which makes it much easier to simply call them mushrooms.

The most important thing to know about mushrooms is which ones are toxic. Some mushrooms are completely deadly so it’s important to not eat those. The only bad thing about having so many different kinds of mushrooms to choose from, is that some of the mushrooms that are safe to eat look identical to some of the mushrooms that are the deadliest.

The Health Benefits of the Healthiest Mushrooms

Most mushrooms contain some protein, minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins. All of these things are great and necessary for your body and mushrooms are a very natural way to get these. Antioxidants are great for getting rid of free radicals which can build up in your body and cause health issues.

Antioxidants are a natural medication against cancer. This will not guarantee that you do not get cancer but it can help prevent certain things that could lead to cancer. Some mushrooms can also contain vitamin D or vitamin C which are both great in helping to prevent cancer. Even if they aren’t a cure all for cancer, all of these vitamins are great on their own for your body.

The fiber and vitamin C in some mushrooms are things that can greatly improve your heart health as well as diabetes. That is because these two things help prevent against hypertension and excessive weight gain, two things that increase your chances of having heart issues.

There are also some studies that state that these nutrients are good for high cholesterol as well. Specifically, the fiber may be able to help your cholesterol levels.

For example, let’s talk about general white mushrooms. The number of calories in a cup of these mushrooms only comes out to 21. Protein for one cup of these mushrooms comes out to just three grams but for a natural food source that is not bad. As for Vitamin C, there are 2mg and as for Vitamin D there are 0.2mg.

There are many other nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in this type of mushroom but this was an overview of great nutrients that are prominent in the healthiest mushrooms. So now you are probably wondering just which mushrooms are the healthiest for you, so let’s get into it.

Shiitake Mushrooms

Healthy shiitake mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms are very well loved all across the world. They are extremely popular in large culinary cities as they are very versatile. They have a very rich taste but not an overpowering one so they go well with many dishes.

Shiitake mushrooms grow naturally in East Asia which is where they were first put into market. However, now over 80% of shiitake mushrooms are grown in Japan. They are always a shade of brown, normally on the darker side and they can grow up to four inches tall.

These do have a higher calorie count than traditional white mushrooms but this calorie count includes many healthy nutrients. With 11 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fiber, and one gram of protein they have high percentages for a naturally occurring food.

They also have Vitamins B5 at 33% of the daily value, B6 at 7% of the daily value, and D at 6% of the daily value. These are vitamins said to help reduce heart risks and help you digest foods as easily as possible.

The fiber will also help to keep your weight controlled and may protect from cancer in the long run. Next time you are at the store try splurging on some Shiitake Mushrooms and see how great the health benefits work for you!

Oyster Mushrooms

healthy oyster mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms are said to be about the second healthiest option out there. These mushrooms are part of a fungus and classified as a vegetable when used to cook or sell. These mushrooms had both nutritional and medicinal uses in our everyday world which is something that puts them towards the top of the list.

This mushroom got their name because of the oyster like color and wavy shape that mimics the oyster shells. These are mushrooms that can be eaten raw, cooked up, or even taken in a pill form so there are many ways to get the nutrients from these mushrooms.

The flavor of these mushrooms is very light. This makes them easy to mix into any kind of recipe giving you even more options to eat this great mushroom.

Oyster mushrooms have an amazing source of protein, fibers, vitamins and minerals. Per cup of oyster mushrooms there are 28 calories, 3g protein, 2g of fiber, and 5.2g of carbs. With the low-sodium content and a cholesterol free food this is a great option for anyone who wants to try out mushrooms.

This healthy mushroom has proven in many studies that it can aid in lowering cholesterol. It also supports more immune health by using the vitamins and immunomodulators that help to back up the immune system. Along with helping your immune system this mushroom also helps to wind up your metabolism.

Maitake Mushrooms

Healthy maitake mushrooms

Maitake mushrooms are a very old mushroom that has been eaten in Asia for centuries. Back then and even today people have used Maitake mushrooms to make medication for a variety of health conditions.

Maitake mushrooms have a special kind of chemical that could help to shrink tumors and push your immune system up a new level. It may be able to lower blood sugar levels which could help both heart health and diabetes.

Some regions use Maitake mushrooms to treat or prevent cancer and it can also help with many symptoms that other drugs may give you. This mushroom can be used for weight loss, diabetes, hay fever, HIV or AIDS, and chronic fatigue. Due to this wide range of health benefits it is used for many holistic techniques.

Because of this mushrooms mild and eggplant esk flavor it is available to be consumed on a daily basis. Due to the mild flavor, it can easily go into all different types of recipes or can be eaten raw.

Portobello Mushrooms

A healthy portabello burger

So far this is probably the most familiar mushroom on the list. Portobello’s are available in almost every grocery store and at a lot of restaurants. A lot of the time they are stuffed because of their large size. Portobello’s are also a great alternative for vegetarian burgers because of their nutrients.

Because of such an intense flavor it may be best to creatively add these into your diet and not just throw them into meals. They are quite meaty which makes them a great substitute for meat in vegetarian dishes.

By simply eating a half a cup of these mushrooms a day you can get 100% of your daily Vitamin D. This is great for those who need more calcium or have an underlying illness that diminishes bone strength.

With these mushrooms being very low in calories and sodium it is a great choice to add to your diet whenever you may need some more nutrients. Their potassium content is great for lowering blood pressure so that each aspect of this mushroom is helpful to you and your body.

Reishi Mushrooms

Healthy Reishi Mushrooms

Reishi mushrooms have an interesting look to them. They are described to look like the texture of wood but the shape of a large flower. Reishi mushrooms are quite distinguishable in the wild for this reason. They grow naturally in Asia and have also been in society for centuries.

These mushrooms are some of the strongest immune boosting ones out there. They help to reduce cholesterol through use of ganoderic acid as well. This is a mushroom that is stated to have great antiviral and antibacterial properties therefore it is often used in medicine.

Some other health benefits happen to be the reduction of stress and the prevention of cancer like many other mushrooms on this list. Liver or kidney diseases are other big reasons why individuals may want to add these mushrooms into their diets.

Since this healthy mushroom is made up of 90% water that makes its calorie count very low. This is a great way to satisfy a craving while not gaining many calories while eating them.

Companies like Four Sigmatic are also incorporating reishi mushrooms into teas, creating even more ways to enjoy the mushroom.

White Button Mushrooms

Some healthy button mushrooms

White button mushrooms are the most well know because they are almost everywhere and they are cheap to buy at grocery stores. These are actually not their own mushroom but young Portobello’s. These mushrooms grow on composted soil in a wide range of areas.

Because they are essentially baby Portobello mushrooms they have many of the same benefits as they do. For one cup there are 21 calories with 3 grams of carbs, 1 gram of fiber, and 3 grams of protein.

These things can help with weight loss, heart health, diabetes, and cholesterol. In addition you are able to get a lot of your needed vitamins and minerals so that your body continues to work efficiently.

These healthy mushrooms also have polysaccharides which help to greatly improve gut health. This will also aid in weight loss since your body is able to process calories easier. Since these are so easy to find and so affordable this may be a perfect mushroom to start with! Go grab some from your local grocery store and see what they can do for you!

Buying Guide

If you are searching for healthy mushrooms to buy they are generally at any and all grocery stores. However, the mushrooms at these places are not always certified organic. Having organic mushrooms is not a must but it can help to add to the benefits that you are reaping from the fungi.

Making sure your mushrooms are organic could help you stay away from any allergens that could be damaging to your health. If you may have allergies to fertilizer or things along those lines then making sure you get all organic is a great idea.

If you have a place in your city that offers fresh fruits and vegetables then that may be perfect for you! Places that offer all natural foods are great options as well. 

No matter where you are buying these mushrooms from it is a good idea to check the quality of the mushrooms in the store. Make sure none are moldy before you buy and make sure they are clean enough and not greatly damaged. This will help keep the quality that you buy up and will help you to stay healthier.

If you are working to add healthier pieces into your diet then mushrooms are a great idea. Because of the wide range there are a lot of different flavor profiles to pick from which means there is the perfect mushroom for any kind of recipe.

With each mushroom having their own range of nutrients it is never a bad idea to try them all. This way you can get many different benefits and find out which of the healthiest mushrooms you like the best!