Another year crept by again! With each passing December, many of us start thinking ahead to January and planning our New Year goals.
If “lose weight” or “eat healthier” landed on your list, you may be considering trying a new diet. Did you know that mushrooms are a fantastic food to incorporate into nearly every dietary regimen out there?
That’s right. Few foods are as versatile as the mighty mushroom! These diet-friendly fungi are low in calories and fat, cholesterol-free and very low in sodium— making mushrooms a “safe” addition to many of the popular meal plans.
Here are 10 of the most popular diets to try this year and how you can sneak mushrooms in for added nutritional value without the weight-packing calories.
Disclaimer: While these are certainly popular diets that many begin in the new year, we recommend consulting your health care provider before making a dramatic lifestyle change such as modifying your everyday diet. We are in no way advocating any of these diet plans, simply giving you healthy options should you have your doctor’s blessing and decide to give one a try!
1. DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)
This diet is promoted by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and focuses on consuming foods high in potassium, calcium, protein and fiber such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy.
Followers of this diet also focus on sodium reduction— capping out initially at 2,300 daily milligrams, and then gradually working down to 1,500 milligrams a day.
Incorporating Mushrooms Into the DASH Diet
Where mushrooms come into play with DASH in helping to cut down on your sodium intake. All types of mushrooms are rich with “umami,” that fifth taste that’s often missed behind sweet, salty, sour and bitter. Although there’s a completely separate taste palate for salty and umami, those who eat mushrooms often describe them as a savory, brothy, rich or meaty taste on the tongue— all sensations often associated with salty foods.
Oftentimes, meals that traditionally are expected to have salty notes— like soups, for example— can be enhanced with a handful of fresh mushrooms, as opposed to a teaspoon or two of sodium. In fact, umami counterbalances saltiness and allows up to a 50% salt reduction, without compromising flavor, according to The Mushroom Council.
2. Flexitarian Diet
The Flexitarian Diet (or semi-vegetarian, as some call it) is a style of eating that encourages the consumption of mostly plant-based foods, while allowing meat and other animal products in moderation.
Incorporating Mushrooms Into the Flexitarian Diet
In 2015, the Mushroom Council introduced the concept of The Blend: a cooking technique that blends finely chopped mushrooms with ground meat. Instead of eating a large portion of sometimes heavy meat, The Blend encourages you to mix finely diced mushrooms into ground meat to reduce the calorie count, cholesterol, and sodium of most meals— all while adding extra nutrients.
The Blend and the flexitarian diet go hand-in-hand, since both encourage moderation over elimination. Check out this introduction to blending ground beef with chopped mushrooms to get started with the Flexitarian meal plan.
3. Ketogenic Diet
The Ketogenic Diet (or Keto Diet, for short) is a low-carb (less than 20 grams per day), high-fat diet. The diet claims to lower blood sugar and insulin levels and shifts the body’s metabolism away from carbs and, instead, toward fat and ketones.
Incorporating Mushrooms Into the Keto Diet
Did you know that one cup (84 grams) of whole mushrooms contains only 2.7 grams of total carbohydrates? That’s data straight from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The low-carb, low-sugar mushroom is a wonderfully diet-friendly food to sneak nutrients into many keto-approved meals without throwing off the balance of ketosis.
Here are five keto-friendly recipes that use mushrooms to help you stick to your diet this year!
4. Low FODMAP Diet
FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo-Di-Mono-saccharides And Polyols. These scientific terms classify groups of carbohydrates that may cause gas and bloating and possible issues for those with irritable bowel syndrome, according to research.
This diet suggests eliminating many common high FODMAP foods and then slowly reintroducing them 3-8 weeks later to see if the symptoms persist.
Incorporating Mushrooms Into the Low FODMAP Diet
At first glance, it’s easy to assume mushrooms are a no-no for this diet. That’s because mushrooms contain mannitol which falls under the category of polyols or the “P” in FODMAP. It’s true that mannitol is a naturally occurring alcohol found in fruits and vegetables, including mushrooms, but the amount varies by variety— and some mushrooms are a diet-friendly food for this meal plan!
Low FODMAP varieties of mushrooms that work with this diet include Oyster mushrooms (0.54mg mannitol) and King Trumpet mushrooms (0.60mg mannitol). Higher FODMAP varieties to avoid include Shiitake (10g mannitol) and White button (6g mannitol), according to The Mushroom Council.
5. Mayo Clinic Diet
This diet developed by Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic focuses on not just what you eat, but also your overall lifestyle. There are two phases: “Lose It,” which kicks off the weight loss process and “Live It,” which helps continue and maintain newly formed healthy habits.
Incorporating Mushrooms Into the Mayo Clinic Diet
Since reducing meat consumption is a big part of the Mayo Clinic diet, substituting Portabella mushrooms for steak or beef patties can be a tasty way to enjoy a meatless diet. Here’s our advice for perfectly grilling Portabella caps!
Other mushroom varieties like Oysters have a higher “meaty” texture and robust umami flavor that makes them an excellent choice for seafood imitation. Check out our Oyster Mushroom Calamari recipe, for example.
Remember that if meat reduction is the goal, The Blend, a cooking technique that blends finely chopped mushrooms with ground meat, is a helpful technique for still enjoying the foods you love without the guilt. See the “Flexitarian diet” section above for details.
6. Paleo Diet
This diet challenges you to think “what would a caveman eat?” Back in the Paleolithic era, from approximately 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago, humans were hunter-gatherers who killed animals or foraged for food. That’s why this diet pushes the consumption of lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Foods that came into existence with the beginning of farming practices roughly 10,00 years ago— like dairy products and grains— are allowed in moderation. Basically, anything processed is a no-go for the Paleo diet.
Incorporating Mushrooms Into the Paleo Diet
Since mushrooms are one of the oldest known foods, it’s highly likely it was a favorite of cavemen— making it a must on your Paleo diet-friendly food list. Unlike cavemen though, it’s no longer necessary to forage for mushrooms when there are many varieties available at your local grocery store! Good news for you. Mushrooms of any shape and size check all the Paleo must-have boxes, since they are unprocessed and can be found in nature.
7. TLC Diet
The Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet was created by the National Institute of Health’s National Cholesterol Education Program with the goal of cutting cholesterol as part of a heart-healthy eating regimen.
Incorporating Mushrooms Into the TLC Diet
Since the goal of the diet is to lower LDL cholesterol, and in some instances reduce weight, counting calories and consuming less saturated fat are key to this diet’s success. Mushrooms are a cholesterol and saturated-fat free food, meaning that they can easily be added to any dish in lieu of extra meat to instantly cut cholesterol.
Here are five mouthwatering blended burger recipes with less cholesterol intake than the average burger.
Created by Barbara Rolls, PhD, Volumetrics focuses on consuming more low energy density foods, or foods with lower calories but more volume. More volume? Yes. The idea is that you’ll lose weight by feeling full on fewer calories.
Incorporating Mushrooms Into the Volumetrics Diet
This diet has four categories. Mushrooms fit into the first— the “free” or “anytime” foods— which include fruits, non-starchy vegetables (which is how mushrooms are classified here) and broth-based soups.
Because Volumetrics relies on foods with a high water content, mushrooms are an ideal fit for followers of this diet. That’s because fresh fungi are approximately 90% water and low cal, with only 22 calories per 100 grams.
9. WW/Weight Watchers
WW, formerly Weight Watchers, recently rebranded to focus less specifically on weight loss and incorporate more of an overall approach to health and wellbeing by delivering science-based solutions that fit into people's lives. WW still tracks meals through SmartPoints and activity via FitPoints.
Incorporating Mushrooms Into the WW Diet
All varieties of raw mushrooms are a 0-point food on this diet, meaning you can sneak this nutritious add-on into any meal without any guilt.
Make a burger with 80% ground beef and 20% finely diced mushrooms. A six-ounce cooked 80/20 beef/mushroom patty is only 10 points on the WW diet.
Discover more reasons that blending mushrooms is a diet-friendly choice this new year.
10. Whole30 Diet
Per Whole30’s founders, this diet is less of a weight-loss plan and more of a “change your life” approach. It begins with 30 days of eliminating sugar, alcohol, grains, dairy and legumes. At day 31, you begin reintroducing some of those foods back into your daily meals.
Incorporating Mushrooms Into the WW Diet
This 30-day diet eliminates a lot of foods most Americans consume regularly. The good news is that mushrooms are an approved food to eat all throughout the meal plan!
New Year, New Cookbook!
If you’re not ready to commit to a full-blown diet shift, maybe an easier plan is to add more healthy meals to your dinner table.
Download our More Flavor, Less Guilt cookbook for some delicious and nutritious recipes, many of which fit into these diet plans already!