A Superhealthy Superfood
Mushrooms deserve to be called a superfood as they are nutrient-dense and provide many compounds that contribute to good health.
The facts at a glance
What is a superfood?
The term “superfood” is frequently used by the media, yet there is no formal definition of the term. If there were such a definition then there is little doubt that the mushroom would vie for the #1 position.
Let’s take a look at what we would expect from a superfood. It is likely that a superfood would have the following characteristics:
The last two points are important. There is little value in a food providing nutrition and health benefits if it is expensive and difficult to find. Good food needs to be as close as your supermarket or greengrocer. Too many so-called superfoods need to be eaten in large amounts or consumed at every meal, and not easy to find at the supermarket. Mushrooms are a convenient food consumed by four out of five people and can be eaten at any meal. One serve is 100g, which is three button mushrooms or one medium flat mushroom. Easy.
The mushroom as a superfood
Judging against the characteristics of a superfood, it is indisputable that the mushroom is a strong contender for the #1 spot! The mushroom provides the following benefits:
There is no doubt that the mushroom is a food that punches nutritionally well above its weight.
Mushroom eaters are better eaters
An analysis of the 24-hour dietary recalls of nearly 25,000 adults revealed that they were nutritionally better off when they ate some mushrooms (O’Neill 2013). Those eating mushrooms, about one in 10 on the day of the diet recall, ate more protein, thiamin, niacin, folate, copper and selenium, and their Healthy Eating Index (HEI) was higher, when compared to those who didn’t eat mushrooms that day. Mushrooms are rich in niacin and the minerals copper and selenium.
With a higher HEI the mushroom eaters also enjoyed more vegetables, especially the dark green and orange varieties, more grains and more milk. This suggests that mushroom consumers generally eat better than the non-consumers. It is good news that mushrooms are associated with smarter eating choices.