18 Mushroom facts, nutrients and health benefits (Mushroom health benefits)

18 Mushroom facts, nutrients and health benefits

Mushroom Facts

About Mushroom

  • Mushroom health benefits are numerous, it is a low-energy-dense-food meaning that it has few calories compared to the volume of food. It is a healthy addition to your plate.
  • Mushrooms are keto-friendly, Paleo-friendly, Atkins-friendly and they are excellent for both vegetarians and vegans.
  • They are also good for weight watchers being that they are 80-90% water.
  • Mushrooms are fat-free, cholesterol free and gluten free
  • They are low in sodium and calories.
  • Although mushroom is classified as a vegetable in the food industry, it is a spore-bearing fungus. These spores which disperse like seeds are produced in the gills underneath the cap of the mushroom.

portobello mushroom 2 18 Mushroom facts, nutrients and health benefits

  • There are so many thousands of species of mushroom and much more undocumented or undiscovered ones. Each with its own unique taste from mild to earthy, also with its own unique shape and texture.
  • Mushrooms can be bought fresh or dry, if bought dry, rehydrate with water or broth then use.
  • The earliest mushroom cultivation was discovered in China and China is the top mushroom producer in the world.
  • In Nigeria, mushrooms are not heavily consumed. They are mostly foraged rather than farmed although mushroom farms are gradually springing up. In multi-lingual Nigeria, it is known by different names, Ero or Elo (Igbo), Leman kwado (Hausa), Olu (Yoruba), Ehunhun (Yagba-Kogi), Utun (Esan), Eru (Ikwerre), Kuba (Jukun), Udip (Ibibio)  etc.
  • Different species of mushrooms have different nutrient profiles, e.g portobellos are very high in potassium while porcini is very high in ergothioneine etc.
  • Mushrooms have high umami flavour (almost meat-like flavour), therefore, are excellent flavour enhancers. A bright orange mushroom called “Chicken of the woods” tastes like fried chicken.

mushrooms 3 18 Mushroom facts, nutrients and health benefits

  • Mushrooms are flavour sponges, soaking up the flavours of any dish they are added to.
  • Mushrooms have fewer calories than a rice cake.
  • Some mushrooms are so expensive costing thousands of dollars per kilogram e.g European White Truffle (Italy), Yartsa Gunbu (Himalayan regions) and Matsutake (Japan).
  • There is a type of stinkhorn mushroom which grows in Hawaii that causes orgasm in women when they smell it. It has not been proven scientifically to be true.
  • There are species of mushrooms that glow in the dark e.g Mycena Chlorophos.

mushroom 12 18 Mushroom facts, nutrients and health benefits

  • The study of mushrooms is Mycology, the person who studies mushrooms is a Mycologist while the person who loves and eats Mushrooms is a Mycophagist. The production of food from fungi is called Fungicultutre.

Human consumption

There are basically 3 categories of mushrooms, edible, inedible and poisonous.

Edible mushrooms: These are the common mushrooms that are eaten worldwide.

Inedible mushrooms: They won’t cause illness but have a tough texture or unpleasant taste. Some have psychoactive properties, these are mushrooms with psychedelic compounds like Psilocybin mushrooms (magic mushroom, shrooms) e.g Liberty cap.

Some contain muscimol, another psychoactive compound e.g panther cap. They are potent hallucinogens and can cause anxiety and panic reactions, also euphoria just like ephedrine.

Poisonous mushroom: These are very dangerous. Some of them attack the guts, liver or kidney or cause death. Don’t ever guess if you don’t know for sure if the mushroom is safe, do not eat. e.g The Death cap, web cap etc.

magic mushroom 18 Mushroom facts, nutrients and health benefits

Mushrooms farmed or foraged in Nigeria

There are the common species of mushrooms around the world e.g white button, cremini, portobello etc. Here is a list of some of the predominant species both wild and farmed found in Nigeria.

I have included their botanical name (common name) and Nigerian (Yoruba) names. (Pictures coming)

Mushroom Facts-Nigerian names of Mushrooms

Where mushrooms grow

Mushrooms grow on dead matter in the soil, on plants, living animals and other fungi. They love damp and shaded places. You must be careful where you grow mushrooms or the source of edible mushroom because it is an environmental cleaner. Some are even able to absorb heavy metal from the environment.

mushroom 10 18 Mushroom facts, nutrients and health benefits

In Nigeria, the medium for farming mushrooms can be sawdust, straw, a log of wood, farm waste, domestic waste etc. There a number of Mushroom farms and most sell the spawn with which you can start your own farm. Due to lack of knowledge about mushroom health benefits, consumption is still low especially in the Nigerian urban areas.


Mushroom nutrients

Mushroom is a powerhouse of nutrients and an all-natural multivitamin. It contains high-quality proteins, unsaturated fatty acids and fibre. There is a promising clinical study about mushroom in medicine, although the Chinese and Japanese have been using them in their medicine for centuries.

A lot of research is still ongoing into mushroom health benefits and medicinal uses. Their effectiveness also depends on the species of mushroom, dose, harvest time, maturity, whether raw or cooked etc.

Mushroom Nutrients

One cup of chopped or sliced raw white mushroom contains 15 calories, 0 grams of fat, 2.2 grams of protein, 2.3 grams of carbohydrate (including 0.7 grams of fibre and 1.4 grams of sugar). 3 cups sliced or chopped mushroom = 225g whole mushroom.

shiitake mushroom 18 Mushroom facts, nutrients and health benefits

Mushroom health benefits


Mushroom is the highest food source of ergothioneine and glutathione both of which are antioxidants. They have anti-ageing properties. They are only found in certain dietary sources e.g kidney, liver, black and red beans etc.


Mushrooms significantly reduce total cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL but do not have much influence on HDL. This is especially significant in diabetic subjects.


They have antibacterial and anti-fungicidal properties which are highly promising especially for microorganisms which are resistant to conventional treatments.

Immune system

Mushrooms help in maintaining a healthy immune system and controlling inflammatory responses. They improve cell functionality and gastrointestinal health. They also help reduce disease risk, this may be due to lower chances of being overweight which also reduces the risk of metabolic disease.


Mushrooms help prevent and delay dementia, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s.

mushroom 5 18 Mushroom facts, nutrients and health benefits

Weight management

They are high in nutrients, very filling, tastes good but low in calories. Mushrooms are a very low-calorie substitute for meat.

Oral health

Mushroom extract, made into an oral mouthwash, reduces plaque, gingivitis, oral bacterial etc.

Cancer risk

There is clinical work on the use of mushrooms in the reduction of breast cancer risk, also the reduction of PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) level in men, especially the relationship between white mushrooms and breast cancer.

Heart health

Mushrooms lower blood pressure without any harmful effect on the liver or kidney. They are low in sodium and saturated fat. The umami flavour of mushrooms which is a flavour enhancer makes you use less salt and seasoning cubes when cooking.

Digestive health

Mushroom is a prebiotic that helps probiotics which in turn help with digestive health, it promotes the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the intestines. Also, it helps with the inhibition of disease-causing microorganisms.

mushroom 8 18 Mushroom facts, nutrients and health benefits


Mushroom information

How to select Fresh Mushrooms

  • The mushroom should be firm with little or no bruises.
  • The gills should be tight. The older the mushrooms the more spread out the gills will be.
  • The surface should be barely damp and plump, not dried, slimy, wet or spongy.
  • It should smell earthy, fresh and sweet and not musty or sour.


  • Buy your mushrooms from reliable sources.
  • If in doubt do not buy. Poisonous mushrooms can look very similar to edible ones.
  • Always clean your mushrooms well because of soil and other debris.
  • Some mushrooms can’t be eaten raw.

oyster mushroom 18 Mushroom facts, nutrients and health benefits

Signs of Mushroom Poisoning

It is not advisable to forage for mushrooms unless you have a good level of expertise. Also, buy only from grocery stores and farmers you trust.

The effects of mushroom poisoning can set in within 4 hours but sometimes much less. Go to a doctor if you suspect you have eaten a poisonous mushroom or have signs of mushroom poisoning.

Some signs include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, cramps, diarrhoea, headache, dizziness, chills, shivering, kidney and liver failure, excessive salivation, etc.

mushroom 6 18 Mushroom facts, nutrients and health benefits


Mushrooms start going bad very fast, so you need to store them properly in order to extend their shelf life.

  • If you bought your mushrooms from a store, leave them in the original store packaging in the refrigerator because stores package them for extended storage time. Once opened, cover with paper towels or loose cling film with holes.
  • Store in a paper bag in the fridge. Poke holes all over the paper bag even in the bottom.
  • Store in a container with plastic wrap covering it, poke holes in the plastic and store in the fridge.
  • Wrap in a damp paper napkin and place in the fridge.
  • Do not store them near smelly food or else, they will absorb the smell of the food e.g herbs, allium (onions) etc.
  • Do not wash your mushrooms before storing them.

Raw Mushrooms

Although mushrooms can be eaten raw, it is best to cook them in order to get their full nutritional benefits including the anti-cancer effects. Mushrooms have tough cell walls which prevent the nutrients from being readily available to the digestive system.

They contain some chemical compounds that affect digestion and nutrient absorption. When cooked properly, the cell walls break down and inactivates the anti-digestive elements. Proper cooking also destroys many toxins in the mushrooms.

mushroom 18 Mushroom facts, nutrients and health benefits

Mushrooms in their raw form also contain traces of carcinogenic compounds like hydrazines and formaldehyde even the common button mushroom, Portobello and Shiitake mushrooms. These are eliminated or destroyed by cooking.

Some mushrooms e.g shiitake can cause dermatitis and photosensitivity in some people but with thorough cooking, this effect is eliminated.

How to cook Mushrooms and recipes using mushrooms

(How to add mushrooms to your diet).

Considering mushroom health benefits, it is necessary to incorporate it into your diet. Mushrooms can be sauteed, baked, fried, grilled, stuffed, boiled etc. while some can be eaten raw. They can be added to soups, stews, casserole, sauces, omelettes and used as a pizza topping. They can also be used in place of a burger bun (portobello) or a low-calorie burger made with half minced beef and half chopped mushroom.

mushroom 9 18 Mushroom facts, nutrients and health benefits

Cooking mushrooms can affect their antioxidative power but a short cooking time will retain more nutrients. The best way to cook mushrooms in order to and retain its nutritional profile and oxidative power is by grilling or microwaving them.

Here are links to some delectable Mushroom recipes:

  1. Mushroom Omelette without cheese
  2. Mushroom Pepper soup
  3. Hearty Mushroom soup without cream
  4. Mushroom Hash/sauce

shower invitations 1698100 640 18 Mushroom facts, nutrients and health benefits


  • The information given here is not medical or nutritional advice but purely informative and nothing more. You will need to see a doctor if you have any disorder and a nutritionist for advice on your diet.

Do you have any suggestions, comments or questions, I will love to know in the comments below.

Check out my facts about 30 Amazing Facts about Tiger nuts, Tips for making awesome cakes, 14 tips for cooking pasta and 12 Nigerian dishes everyone should know how to cook.

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