Often classified as a vegetable, mushrooms are actually a member of the fungi family. Tiny but mighty, these little guys have many health benefits along with an incredible nutritional content, making them a sensible part of any balanced diet. Weight loss can also be achieved when incorporating mushrooms into a healthy diet and are a versatile ingredient, whether eaten raw or cooked.
There are many different types of edible mushrooms, with popular and widely available varieties including button, chestnut, oyster, portobello, porcini, and chanterelle. There are also several superfood mushrooms which are used for their potential medicinal and health-giving properties.
Each also has a distinct savory flavor, and all can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes. These include Lion’s Mane mushrooms, Shitake mushrooms, Reishi mushrooms, and Turkey Tail mushrooms to name but a few.
Mushrooms are packed with protein and fiber, contain very few calories and absolutely no fat or cholesterol. Along with fruits and vegetables of all varieties, this makes them a good choice for those who are actively trying to lose weight. Mushrooms are hearty and filling, with a similar texture to meat.
This makes them an ideal way to satisfy your appetite without ingesting a large number of calories and zero cholesterol or fat. The mushroom council of USA states: “Preliminary research suggests increasing the intake of low-calorie, high-volume foods, specifically mushrooms, in place of high-calorie, low-volume foods, like ground beef, can be an effective method for reducing daily calorie and fat intake while still feeling full and satiated.
Mushrooms are also a good source of beta glucans which, amongst other properties, help to metabolize fats and sugars in the body. The beta-glucans contained in oyster, Shiitake and split gill mushrooms are considered to be the most effective at doing this.
Mushrooms have many health benefits, making them an ideal choice for anyone looking not only to lose weight but to adopt a healthy lifestyle in the long-term. Mushrooms are rich in potassium, which helps to keep blood pressure at a healthy level.
They also contain a large amount of selenium, a powerful antioxidant which strengthens the immune system, lowers inflammation and helps to protect the body from damage that may lead to heart disease and some types of cancer. Selenium is also thought to help to boost male fertility.
Many adults struggle to maintain appropriate levels of both potassium and selenium, as they’re not present at high levels in most fruits and vegetables. According to The Mushroom Council, Mushrooms are also packed with: D vitamins – which help to provide energy by breaking down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
Riboflavin – which helps with the production of hormones Niacin and Copper – which help with the production of healthy red blood cells Ergothioneine – a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the body’s cells Beta-glucans – which stimulate the immune system and contribute to resistance against allergies.
The Mushroom Diet (or M Plan,) made popular by celebrities including Katy Perry and Kelly Osbourne, replaces one or two meals each day with a serving of mushrooms. The plan claims to help those who follow it lose weight from the hip and thigh area, however, there is only anecdotal evidence to support this suggestion.
Any variety of mushroom can be eaten as a meal replacement on the plan but must be roasted, steamed or grilled with as little oil or fat as possible. Rich, heavy sauces should also be avoided, with most participants choosing to eat their mushrooms raw or drizzled lightly with olive and oven-roasted for around fifteen minutes. The diet works because mushrooms are a low-calorie food choice, creating a deficit that leads to weight loss over time (the amount varying from person to person.)
Mushrooms are incredibly versatile and can assist with weight loss when added to an already healthy diet. Use them raw or cooked in salads, wraps, soups, stir-fries, noodle and pasta dishes or swap them for the pepperoni or sausage on your pizza. In fact, mushrooms area great meat replacement in any meal, saving both calories and fat content.
If you can’t face removing meat altogether, try bulking up the content of traditional meat dishes like spaghetti bolognese while reducing the amount of meat. Often regarded as a side dish, mushrooms actually make a great meal in themselves. Try stuffing a mushroom with risotto and topping with breadcrumbs or tuck in to a giant portobello mushroom in a burger bun?
Mushrooms are also great for snacking on while you embark on a weight loss plan. Try roasted shiitake mushrooms for a crispy treat or sauté some chestnut mushrooms to enjoy with a poached egg. The mushroom council of USA has produced a fantastic fact sheet, detailing a number of ways to enjoy eating your favorite mushroom variety.