White mushrooms are the most cultivated type of mushroom in the world (
Aside from being very low in calories, they offer multiple health-promoting effects, such as improved heart health and cancer-fighting properties.
This article explains everything you need to know about white mushrooms, including their potential benefits and how to enjoy them.
White mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) belong to the Fungi kingdom and constitute about 90% of the mushrooms consumed in the United States (
Agaricus bisporus can be harvested at varying stages of maturity. When young and immature, they are known as white mushrooms if they have a white color, or crimini mushrooms if they have slight brown shade.
When fully grown, they’re known as portobello mushrooms, which are bigger and darker.
White mushrooms are also known as table, common, button, or champignon mushrooms. They have a small stem, smooth cap, and mild flavor that pairs well with many dishes.
White mushrooms grow on composted soil among a wide range of other fungi and bacteria, which play essential roles in the process, as they break down raw materials before the mushrooms can grow (
You can find them fresh, frozen, canned, dried, or even in powdered form.
White mushrooms are incredibly popular in the United States, among many other counties. They have a mild flavor and smooth cap, and they can be enjoyed fresh, frozen, canned, dried, or powdered.
Like most mushrooms, white mushrooms are low in calories but pack plenty of nutrients.
One cup (96 grams) of whole white mushrooms provides (
- Calories: 21
- Carbs: 3 grams
- Fiber: 1 gram
- Protein: 3 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Vitamin D: 33% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Selenium: 16% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 12% of the DV
- Folate: 4% of the DV
Due to their exposure to UV rays or sunlight, mushrooms are a natural, non-animal source of vitamin D2 that’s capable of increasing blood levels of this vitamin as effectively as a supplement — and white mushrooms are no exception (
Your body turns vitamin D2 into the active form of vitamin D, which it needs to absorb calcium and keep your bones healthy.
Vitamin D deficiency may lead to osteoporosis, mineralization defects, and muscle weakness, causing falls and fractures (
Similarly, research suggests that white mushrooms offer some vitamin B12. Since this vitamin is usually obtained from animal sources, this may be beneficial for those following a plant-based diet (
Additionally, they provide a higher protein content than most vegetables, which would also be beneficial if you follow a plant-based diet, as they may help you increase your protein intake (
White mushrooms are low in calories and sugar. They are also high in protein and vitamin D, and they’re a source of vitamin B12. As such, they are considered beneficial for those following plant-based diets.
White mushrooms are widely consumed both because of their nutritional value and wide range of medicinal properties.
They have cancer-fighting properties
Multiple antioxidant compounds, including polyphenols, polysaccharides, ergothioneine, glutathione, selenium, and vitamin C, are believed to be behind mushrooms’ potential cancer-fighting properties (
These antioxidants help combat the harmful effects of oxidative stress, which leads to cellular damage that can accelerate aging and increase the risk of developing heart disease and certain cancers (
The main phenolic compounds in white mushrooms are flavonoids and phenolic acids, which have the potential to act both as antioxidants and pro-oxidants.
As antioxidants, they help improve cell survival, while as pro-oxidants, they lead to cell death to prevent tumor growth (
What’s more, polysaccharides — one of white mushrooms’ main bioactive compounds — may likewise have potent anticancer effects.
One specific type of polysaccharide is beta glucan. It stimulates your immune system to activate macrophages and natural killer cells, which protect the body from infection, harmful organisms, and diseases, including cancer (
White mushrooms are also rich in glutathione and ergothioneine.
Glutathione acts both as an antioxidant and detoxification agent, meaning that it helps eliminate potentially harmful substances that are foreign to the body. Meanwhile, ergothioneine protects DNA from oxidative damage (
Lastly, vitamin C and selenium offer anticancer properties that enhance your immune system’s production of protective cells, including natural killer cells, which help defend against cancer development (
Additionally, vitamin C inhibits certain enzymes, preventing cancer from spreading (
Though research is encouraging, most studies have focused on the effects of white mushrooms’ compounds. No studies have specifically evaluated the effects of eating white mushrooms on cancer, so further research is needed to verify these claims.
May promote heart health
Oxidative stress, inflammation, and high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides are strongly linked to heart disease, and white mushrooms’ content of ergothioneine and beta glucan may help reduce this risk.
Beta glucan is a type of soluble fiber that lowers blood cholesterol levels through its ability to form a gel-like substance when digested. It then traps triglycerides and cholesterol, preventing their absorption (
Similarly, research suggests that ergothioneine may help reduce triglyceride levels after a meal.
One study in 10 men found that consuming either 2 teaspoons (8 grams) or 1 tablespoon (16 grams) of mushroom powder as part of a meal significantly reduced their blood triglycerides levels, compared with the control group (
Researchers attributed this effect to the powder’s ergothioneine content.
Additionally, ergothioneine may help inhibit arterial plaque development, a risk factor for heart disease that may lead to high blood pressure and stroke (
Other potential benefits
White mushrooms may provide some additional health benefits, including:
- Blood sugar control. The polysaccharides in white mushrooms may help lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin resistance (
30, 31, 32).
- Improved gut health. Their polysaccharides also act as prebiotics, or food for your beneficial gut bacteria, which help improve gut health (
33, 34, 35).
White mushrooms are rich in many bioactive compounds that may protect against cancer and heart disease, as well as help improve blood sugar control and gut health.
You can find white mushrooms in various presentations, such as fresh, frozen, canned, dried, and powdered.
Fresh mushrooms have a short shelf life of 3–4 days. Thus, freezing, canning, and drying are some of the methods used to extend their shelf life without compromising their nutritional quality (
You can enjoy your fresh and dried mushrooms cooked or raw. If you want to, you can also rehydrate dried mushrooms by soaking them in water.
However, you might want to cook the frozen and canned varieties, as their texture may have changed a bit during processing.
Lastly, powdered white mushrooms are mainly used to enhance the nutritional value of foods, specifically to increase the protein content of baked products (
You can enjoy white mushrooms in a variety of ways, including fresh, dried, canned, frozen, or powdered.
Due to their mild flavor and soft texture, white mushrooms make a great addition to a variety of dishes.
Both the caps and stems are edible, and you can eat them cooked or raw.
Here are a couple of suggestions regarding how to add them to your diet:
- Slice them and add them raw to your favorite salad.
- Sautée them in olive oil with garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper for a side of cooked mushrooms.
- Add them to a stir-fry along with other vegetables and your choice of protein.
- Cook them with scrambled eggs or add them as a filling to an omelet for a healthy breakfast.
- Roast them at 350°F (176°C) with sprigs of rosemary and thyme for a crunchy snack.
- Sautée them with carrots, leeks, garlic, and onions, and boil them in water to make a hearty and healthy mushroom broth.
You can also buy the powdered form and add it to your next baked treat.
Both the caps and stems of white mushrooms are edible, and you can enjoy them with many dishes, including breakfast, snacks, and desserts.
White mushrooms have a wide range of bioactive compounds that offer several health benefits, including cancer-fighting properties, cholesterol-lowering effects, and improved gut health.
They are also very low in calories and have a high protein content.
You can add them to almost any type of dish, allowing you to enjoy a delicious meal that offers their multiple health benefits.