The types of protein found in mushrooms are truly unique. One example is lectins that have anti-cancer properties in the laboratory. Other mushroom proteins appear to have both anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties (Xu 2011). As the research continues we hope to get a better understanding of how mushroom proteins could be helping to keep us healthy.
Certain proteins, called hydrophobins, are found only in mushrooms, and these proteins contribute to the texture of the mushroom, making eating them so enjoyable. It is the combination of natural glutamates, protein and other natural flavour compounds that make the mushroom texture and flavour so pleasurable.
The fat level in mushrooms is almost negligible. There is some fat in the cell walls, and this is sufficient fat to store vitamin D that mushrooms naturally generate after they have been exposed to sunlight. The fat that is present is mainly the healthy unsaturated fat.
As you can see, the carbohydrate content of the mushroom is quite low, which means that it has very little effect on blood sugar (glucose) levels, making them perfect for people with diabetes.
Like protein, the carbohydrates found in mushrooms are unique. Some of the carbohydrate is in the form of glycogen, which is found in animals, and not as starch found in plants (Kalac 2013). Other carbohydrates in mushrooms appear to have anti-cancer properties. One Australian study identified two mushroom carbohydrates that inhibit breast cancer cell growth, probably by enhancing immune function (Jeong 2012).
The fibre in the mushrooms includes glucans and chitin, which have been linked to lowering the risk of cancer and controlling blood cholesterol levels (Jeong 2010; Gil-Ramírez 2013). Glucans stimulate the phagocyte system that consume alien cells within the body. Mushroom fibre is different to that found in fruits and vegetables, so it helps complement the health benefits of plant fibre.
As a very low kilojoule food, the mushroom is ideal for anyone trying to control their weight while eating highly nutritious foods. With its deliciously rich savoury flavour, the mushroom makes an ideal inclusion into both vegetarian and meat dishes. It stands as one of the best value for nutrition foods available. A serve of mushrooms (100g or three button mushrooms) is a simple way to boost your vitamin and mineral intake for very few kilojoules.