Low Fat and Kilojoules
The mushroom is low in fat and has just 103 kilojoules per serve.
The facts at a glance
Mushrooms and weight control
The mushroom is ideally suited for weight control because it is low in fat and low in kilojoules. That makes mushrooms suitable for everyone, including those who have heart disease or diabetes. A single serve of mushrooms (100g or three button mushrooms) has only 103 kJs (25 Cals).
Mushrooms also seem to make you eat less food too. Research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, revealed that substituting meat with button mushrooms increased the satiety (feeling of fullness) of the meal (Cheskin 2008). Although the mushroom meal was about 100 calories (420 kJs) less than the meat meal, consumers actually ate 379 fewer calories (1590 kJs) a day over four days. This finding suggests that mushrooms have a powerful ability to make a meal more filling.
In a follow-up study, eating mushrooms reduced waist circumference by three notches of the belt (Poddar 2013). The study was conducted over 12 months. It observed the effect of replacing part of the evening meal with a serve of mushrooms. Seventy-three overweight adults provided with weight loss advice were assigned to either eat an average of 100g of mushrooms in their meals each day or have no mushrooms at all. Both groups lost weight over six months, but after 12 months the mushroom consumers lost an average of 7cm around the waist while the control group ultimately gained weight around their middle.
Mushrooms also improved blood cholesterol and blood pressure
In addition, blood pressure levels also improved significantly, although this may have been due solely to a drop in body weight. Those eating an average of three button mushrooms a day had improved their total and LDL cholesterol levels as well as their fasting blood glucose levels and triglycerides. There is evidence from other studies that mushrooms have an independent effect to improve blood cholesterol (Jeong 2010; Guillamón 2010; Gil-Ramírez 2013).
There may be a simple explanation for the weight loss in mushroom eaters. Mushrooms are a very low kilojoule food and could be replacing higher kilojoule foods in the meal. Indeed, the mushroom consumers did eat 123 fewer Calories (515 kJs) than the control group.
Glutamates help control appetite
You know that mushrooms have a deliciously rich savoury flavour, also known as umami, which comes primarily from the natural free glutamates in mushrooms. There are glutamate receptors in the stomach and the intestine, signalling the presence of protein in food. In fact, almost all of dietary glutamate is metabolised by intestinal enterocytes, cells that absorb sugars, fatty acids and amino acids from the intestine.
Mushrooms may also be acting on the appetite control to reduce the amount of food consumed at subsequent meals. There is speculation that glutamate receptors in the intestines might be working in a feedback loop to diminish hunger and stopping us from over-eating (Ghirri 2012; Burrin 2009).
This may help explain why research finds that mushroom eaters have better body weight control.
“We suggest that controlled intake of foods which are rich in glutamate … could be useful in producing a sense of ‘healthy satisfaction’ after a nutritionally sufficient meal, inducing the subject to refrain from excessive food intake.” (Ghirri 2012)
Of course, a mix of dietary change and becoming more active has the greatest chance of long-term weight loss success. Eating mushrooms daily can be a significant part of that change.