Mushrooms are the reproductive structures produced by some fungi. A mushroom, or toadstool, is the fleshy, spore-bearing, fruiting body of a fungus. In a way, mushrooms are like the fruit of a plant. Instead of producing seeds, the mushroom fungus releases millions of microscopic spores that form underneath the mushroom’s cap.
Mushrooms grow in a variety of bright and muted colors all over the world. The fungus can grow above ground, on top of the soil, or on the surface of a food source. They are easy to grow at home as well. There are more than a million estimated species of fungi. Species that make edible mushrooms make up only a small fraction.
Producers make canned mushrooms by slicing fresh mushrooms and packing the pieces in brine. Next, they seal the cans and send them through a pressure canning process.
Canned mushrooms are small, but mighty when it comes to health benefits. They are a rich source of several vitamins and minerals.
A half-cup of canned, drained, mushroom pieces contains:
- 20 calories
- 1 gram of protein
- 0 grams of fat
- 4 grams of carbohydrates
- 2 grams of fiber
- 2 grams of sugar
Canned mushrooms are a viable “meat replacer” thanks to their protein content and fleshy texture. Canned mushrooms are also an excellent source of:
Potential Health Benefits of Canned Mushrooms
Canned mushrooms have the same nutritional content as fresh mushrooms. However, the added sodium from the canning brine (saltwater) is something to consider if you are trying to limit how much sodium you have.
The phosphorus in canned mushrooms helps red cells deliver oxygen and may give you more energy.
Canned mushrooms can also:
Help give you stronger bones and healthier teeth. Although bone health is primarily related to calcium, minerals such as phosphorus are also important to supporting healthy bones. Mushrooms contain a fair amount of phosphorus to promote greater bone and teeth health.
Improve your digestion. The fiber in canned mushrooms contributes to a healthy digestive system. The body needs fiber to bulk up stool so it can pass more easily through your digestive tract. Adding fiber to your diet also helps if your stool is thin or watery.
Give you more energy. Eating canned mushrooms may help you feel refreshed and ready to go. They contain riboflavin and niacin, which play essential roles in how your body makes energy.
Help your heart. Canned mushrooms contain a fair amount of potassium, a mineral that has been associated with a lower chance of high blood pressure and heart disease.
Help you keep a healthy weight. Mushrooms are an excellent choice if you count calories. They pack a nutritional punch and enhance your recipes’ taste and texture without adding many calories.
Potential Risks of Canned Mushrooms
Canned products tend to contain high levels of preservatives to enhance shelf life — especially sodium. You should have about 2,300 milligrams of sodium each day. A half-cup serving of canned mushrooms has 561.
Watch how much salt you add to canned mushrooms. If sodium is an issue for you, be sure to rinse your canned mushrooms before you use them.
The most obvious choice if you're looking for an alternative to canned mushrooms is fresh mushrooms. They have much less sodium (just 7 mg compared to the 561 in canned), as well as slightly fewer calories and carbs, and less sugar.