Paula Mee, Dietitian

The most common mushrooms we buy have the scientific name, Agaricus bisporus.   They include white mushrooms (button, closed cap, open cap and large flat) and brown mushrooms (chestnut, Champignon Marron, crimini and Portabello). You possibly buy pop them into your shopping basket every week, regardless of whether they’re on special offer. Yet without deliberately intending to, many of us look on them as ‘secondary’ vegetables or perhaps as a vegetable ‘accompaniment’. So if you think mushrooms have little to offer nutritionally, read on!

We hear a lot about the nutritional benefits of green vegetables or beta-carotene rich vegetables and you may wonder – what’s so special about mushrooms?

Well, the nutritional attributes of the mushroom are very respectable really.

  • Despite their meaty rich texture (flats are my favourite taste-wise); an average portion of 80g contains only ten calories. Yes, raw mushrooms are a very low calorie food. They can really add to a summer or winter salad, and there are also great in hearty winter casseroles.
  • There are few foods that can cover a quarter of your dinner plate and provide so few calories. Of course stir-frying in a non-stick wok with a little water won’t add additional calories, but if you like your mushrooms swimming in butter you might add another zero onto the calorie count.
  • Raw mushrooms are naturally low in fat, with a serving containing less than half a gr am (0.4 g).
  • Mushrooms are a source of B vitamins namely, riboflavin, niacin, folate and pantothenic acid. In other words a 100g of mushrooms provides over 15% of the RDA of these nutrients. These B vitamins act like spark-plugs and help us to release energy from the food we eat. They also help to build healthy blood cells and maintain a healthy brain and nervous tissue.
  • Mushrooms are also a source of selenium, an important antioxidant. It is in short supply in many Irish and European diets. Selenium is critical for the immune system to function normally.
Calories Protein (g) Fat (g) Saturates (g) Sugars (g) Fibre (g) Salt (g)
Mushrooms per 100g 13 1.8 0.5 0.1 0.2 1.1 0.01
Mushrooms per average serving(80g) 10 1.4 0.4 0.1 0.2 0.9 0.01

Get Cooking

Despite the fact that half of us wash mushrooms, the best way to prepare mushrooms is to take a damp piece of kitchen paper and wipe each mushroom clean. This way they don’t absorb water and get really soggy.

Don’t peel them, either, because the peel has lots of flavour.  You can also use the mushroom stalks, although with shiitake mushrooms, the stalks are a bit chewy so you may want to trim these off.  If the mushrooms are small, leave them whole, if not, cut through the stalk, then into halves or quarters.

  • Garlic and parsley are excellent partners to mushrooms – sweat your mushrooms and then add the garlic and parsley for a delicious side dish.
  • Use speciality mushrooms like shiitake or dried mushrooms in cooking for extra flavour and variety.
  • Drizzle Portobello mushrooms with a little pesto for a few minutes, then top with goat’s cheese or mozzarella and put back under the grill until the cheese has melted slightly
  • Skewer whole button mushrooms with other veg such as peppers, red onion, cherry tomatoes and courgettes, brush lightly with olive oil and grill for about 10 minutes.
  • Add some sliced mushrooms to a pizza before cooking.
  • Use leftover rice, mixed with chopped peppers, tomatoes and herbs, to stuff Portabello mushrooms.  Bake in the oven and sprinkle over some grated low-fat cheese just before serving.


Winter warming recipes: click here