It’s National Nutrition Month! This annual campaign— created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics— runs the entire month of March, educating and informing people of healthy food choices to help foster better eating habits.
In honor of these 31 days of health-conscious dietary choices, we’re reminding everyone of the nutritional value of our favorite food: mushrooms.
More specifically, we’re educating mushroom-lovers on the concept of “The Blend.” The Blend challenges the idea that mushrooms can only be served as a topping on your steak, or as a sideshow on your plate.
Instead, mushrooms can be incorporated regularly into your modern diet by blending them with ground meat or other plant-based alternatives, for an added flavor boost and health benefit.
Here are a few reasons why you should consider blending mushrooms into your next meal:
1. Mushrooms are fat-free.
A certain amount of dietary fat is essential for your health, as fat helps your body to absorb vitamins and nutrients, and is an important source of essential fatty acids, which the body can't produce on its own.
However, many Americans tend to consume too much saturated fat, going against The American Heart Association’s (and other reputable sources) recommendation to limit your daily consumption.
Reducing your serving size of meat is an easy way to instantly decrease your fat intake. Sub fat-free mushrooms in place of a portion of your meat.
Whether it’s a 70/30 mushroom to meat blend in your pot of chili or a 40/60 meat to mushroom blend in tacos, simply blend to reduce your next meal’s fat level.
2. Certain mushrooms can contain Vitamin D, and all contain B vitamins.
Mushrooms respond to light similar to the way humans do, absorbing vitamin D from exposure to the sun. Unfortunately, many commercially-raised mushrooms never see enough UV light to produce this powerful vitamin, only exposed to limited artificial light during growth. But some growers— like us at Monterey Mushrooms— run our high vitamin D mushrooms under ultraviolet rays before packaging, transforming them into vitamin D. Eating these nutrient-rich mushrooms helps your body to absorb calcium, which is important for your bone health.
By helping the body to absorb calcium, vitamin D may reduce the risk of osteoporosis and related bone fractures. In fact, “High Vitamin D” mushrooms are the only readily available produce item with this bone-strengthening nutrient.
In addition to vitamin D, mushrooms also contain 2-3 of the eight essential B vitamins. Each B vitamin has unique benefits, from riboflavin, which helps to maintain healthy skin and sharp vision, to niacin, which helps with repairing DNA. Learn more about each vitamin’s individual functions and blend them into your next meal to reap the benefits.
3. Mushrooms are a source of selenium.
Selenium is a trace mineral and antioxidant. Your thyroid gland needs this powerful nutrient to function properly and to regulate your heart and digestive function. Plus, it can also help to foster improved brain development!
Three ounces (85 g) of white mushrooms contain about 8 mcg of selenium, 15% of your daily value (DV). Brown mushrooms contain even more of an antioxidant kick, packing 40% DV in the same serving size.
Selenium is also found in pork, so by blending these mushrooms with this meat, you can consume even more of this trace mineral in one meal.
4. Mushrooms have antioxidant-like properties.
No matter what kind of mushroom you eat, it contains two important antioxidant-like compounds, ergothioneine, and glutathione.
These long-named compounds may help to fight aging and bolster health, according to Penn State researchers. Mushrooms are the highest dietary source of these two antioxidants taken together.
Ergothioneine and glutathione can help your body recover from oxidative stress by protecting your cells from “toxic” free radicals. Learn more about the free radical theory of aging and how mushrooms can combat it in our nutritional value blog post. Then, chop up some mushrooms to mix with your favorite meat or plant-based alternative.
More Benefits of “The Blend”
Are you starting to see how amazing these earthy shoots are yet? Mushrooms also contain and can help you to cut your caloric and sodium intake.
Download our ebook, Everything You Need to Know About Blended Mushrooms, to learn more. It’s packed with helpful information about all the vitamins, antioxidants and health benefits of mushrooms, including a few delicious recipes. It’ll also teach you more about the power of “The Blend.”
Happy National Nutrition Month! Be sure to share this post with any mushroom-loving friends to help spread awareness, today.