Fact Sheet

Nutritive values of different mushrooms (dry weight basis g/100g)

MushroomCarbohydrateFibreProteinFatAshEnergy k cal
Agaricus bisporus 46.17 20.90 33.48 3.10 5.70 499
Pleurotus sajor-caju 63.40 48.60 19.23 2.70 6.32 412
Lentinula edodes 47.60 28.80 32.93 3.73 5.20 387
Pleurotus ostreatus 57.60 8.70 30.40 2.20 9.80 265
Volvariella volvaceae 54.80 5.50 37.50 2.60 1.10 305
Calocybe indica 64.26 3.40 17.69 4.10 7.43 391
Flammulina velutipes 73.10 3.70 17.60 1.90 7.40 378
Auricularia auricula 82.80 19.80 4.20 8.30 4.70 351

Courtesy: Stamets, 2005 (A.bisporous, P. sajor-caju, Lentinula edodes), FAO, 1972 (Pleurotus ostreatus , V. volvaceae), Doshi and Sharma, 1995 (Calocybe indica), Crison and Sand, 1978(Flammulina velutipes and Auricularia spp).

Mushrooms comprise about 80-90% of water, and 8-10% of fiber. In addition to these, mushroom is an excellent source of vitamins especially C and B (Folic acid, Thiamine, Riboflavin and Niacin). Minerals viz., potassium, sodium and phosphorous are higher in fruit bodies of the mushroom. It also contains other essential minerals (Cu, Zn, Mg) in traces but deficient in iron and calcium.

Medicinal Values

Since thousands of years, edible fungi have been revered for their immense health benefits and extensively used in folk medicine. Specific biochemical compounds in mushrooms are responsible for improving human health in many ways. These bioactive compounds include polysaccharides, tri-terpenoids, low molecular weight proteins, glycoproteins and immunomodulating compounds. Hence mushrooms have been shown to promote immune function; boost health; lower the risk of cancer; inhibit tumor growth; help balancing blood sugar; ward off viruses, bacteria, and fungi; reduce inflammation; and support the body’s detoxification mechanisms. Increasing recognition of mushrooms in complementing conventional medicines is also well known for fighting many diseases.

  1. Good for heart The edible mushrooms have little fat with higher proportion of unsaturated fatty acids and absence of cholesterol and consequently it is the relevant choice for heart patients and treating cardiovascular diseases. Minimal sodium with rich potassium in mushroom enhances salt balance and maintaining blood circulation in human being. Hence, mushrooms are suitable for people suffering from high blood pressure. Regular consumption of mushrooms like Lentinula, Pleurotus spp. decreases cholesterol levels. The lovastatin obtained from Pleurotus ostreatus and eritadenine obtained from shiitake has the ability to reduce blood cholesterol levels.
  2. Low calorie food The diabetic patients choose mushroom as an ideal food due to its low calorific value, no starch, little fat and sugars. The lean proteins present in mushrooms help to burn cholesterol in the body. Thus it is most preferable food for people striving to shed their extra weight.
  3. Prevents cancer Compounds restricting tumor activities are found in some mushrooms but only a limited number have undergone clinical trials. All forms of edible mushrooms, and white button mushrooms in particular, can prevent prostate and breast cancer. Fresh mushrooms are capable of arresting the action of 5-alpha-reductase and aromatase, chemicals responsible for growth of cancerous tumors. The drug known as Polysaccharide-K (Kresin), is isolated from Trametes versicolor (Coriolus versicolor), which is used as a leading cancer drug. Some mushroom-derived polysaccharides have ability to reduce the side effects of radiotherapy and chemotherapy too. Such effects have been clinically validated in mushrooms like Lentinula edodes, Trametes versicolor, Agaricus bisporus and others. Selenium in the form of selenoproteins found in mushrooms has anticancer properties. According to the International Copper Association, the mushroom’s high copper levels help to reduce colon cancer besides osteoporosis.
  4. Anti-aging property The polysaccharides from mushrooms are potent scavengers of super oxide free radicals. These antioxidants prevent the action of free radicals in the body, consequently reducing the aging process. Ergothioneine is a specific antioxidant found in Flammulina velutipes and Agaricus bisporus which is necessary for healthy eyes, kidney, bone marrow, liver and skin.
  5. Regulates digestive system The fermentable fiber as well as oligosaccharide from mushrooms acts as a prebiotics in intestine and therefore they anchor useful bacteria in the colon. This dietary fibre assists the digestion process and healthy functioning of bowel system.
  6. Strengthens immunity Mushrooms are capable of strengthening the immune system. A diverse collection of polysaccharides (beta-glucans) and minerals, isolated from mushroom is responsible for up-regulating the immune system. These compounds potentiate the host’s innate (non-specific) and acquired (specific) immune responses and activate all kinds of immune cells.

Mushrooms, akin to plants, have a great potential for the production of quality food. These are the source of bioactive metabolites and are a prolific resource for drugs. Knowledge advancement in biochemistry, biotechnology and molecular biology boosts application of mushrooms in medical sciences.

From a holistic consideration, the edible mushrooms and its by-products may offer highly palatable, nutritious and healthy food besides its pharmacological benefits.