Mushrooms may Combat Obesity and Provide Essential Vitamin D

Substituting mushrooms for beefy meals may be the key to cutting calories while increasing our intake of Vitamin D. According to preliminary research, led by Dr. Lawrence Cheskin, MD, Director of John Hopkins Weight Management Center, substituting mushrooms for lean beef can significantly cut calories – in addition, mushrooms seem to be very satisfying, at least according to input from the study participants.

The subjects of the current study were tested for four days, and provided randomly with meals of either beef or white button mushrooms in place of the meat. The meals consisted of sloppy joe, lasagna, chili and napoleon. Fat and calorie consumption over the four-day testing period was significantly higher in the beef group, the difference averaging 420 more calories and 30 grams of fat daily when compared to those who ate entrées with mushrooms versus beef. However, the group rated the mushroom meals as palatable, and satisfying. According to Dr. Cheskin, "The most intriguing finding was that subjects seemed to accept mushrooms as a palatable and suitable culinary substitute for meat. They didn't compensate for the lower calorie mushroom meal by eating more food later in the day."

According to estimates, consistently substituting a four ounce grilled burger for a four ounce Portabella mushroom would save more than 18,000 calories and nearly 3,000 grams of fat per year, or the equivalent of 5.3 pounds and thirty sticks of butter.(1)

Mushrooms are a decent source of Vitamin D, which also makes them a good substitute for meat. A standard serving, combined with five minutes of sunlight could supply 100% of the daily requirement for Vitamin D. Mushrooms are also an excellent source of minerals and B vitamins, including the antioxidant selenium.

There are many types of mushrooms, and all offer different health perks. You will want to explore their nutritional benefit further, and you can do so by visiting The World’s Healthiest Foods. Note that even button mushrooms are nutritious – you don’t have to spend a lot on exotic mushrooms that might not suit your budget. Anyone with gout should be wary of the high purine content of crimini mushrooms. Check out the recipes also at World’s Healthiest Food. Even if you don’t trade in the beef for mushrooms, consider the nutritional value, and incorporate at least a handful into your meals on a regular basis. For more on their nutritional value, see How Mushroom’s Nutrients Stack Up.

The John Hopkins study was funded by the Mushroom Council.

(1)Block, Dietary Data Systems. Analysis of NHANES III Data. Mushrooms: More Than Just Another Fungus. March 2004.

Cheskin, L.J., et al. (2008, July). Lack of energy compensation over 4 days when white button mushrooms are substituted for beef. Appetite, 51(1), 50-57.