What Are the Health Benefits of Portabella Mushrooms?

Medically Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, RD, LD, MPH on June 02, 2024
3 min read

Mushrooms are having a popularity surge, and more people than ever are wondering if eating portabella mushrooms can benefit their health. Mushrooms have been consumed as traditional food and medicine for thousands of years and remain a popular food today — Americans eat about 3 pounds of mushrooms per person per year. 

Are you wondering how many health benefits portabella mushrooms really have? Read on to learn what you need to know about the health benefits of portabella mushrooms.

Like all mushrooms, portabella mushrooms are really fungi, not vegetables. Fungi aren't plants or animals; they're a unique kingdom of living things. Fungi are one of the oldest types of life on Earth, with the oldest Fungi appearing about a billion years ago. 

What we call mushrooms are the fleshy, spore-producing part of the fungus. There are 300 edible mushroom species, but only 10 — including portabella mushrooms — are grown commercially.

Portabella mushrooms are the same species as white button mushrooms and cremini mushrooms — Agaricus bisporus, the most popular species of edible mushroom. Creminis are sometimes called "baby bellas" because portabellas, the mature form Agaricus bisporus, are much bigger. Portabella mushroom caps can be as big as 6 inches in diameter.

Where Do Portabella Mushrooms Grow?

Portabella mushrooms are grown in compost supplemented with nitrogen and gypsum and topped with soil, moss, and ground limestone. Commercial compost can include ingredients like straw, moss, manure, soybean meal, and lime. In commercial mushroom production, compost is pasteurized before mushrooms are spawned for safety. 

Portabella Mushrooms Nutrition

Like all mushrooms, portabella mushrooms are low in fat and calories — 100 grams of raw mushrooms have no fat and only 22 calories. Portabella mushrooms taste meaty and savory, with an umami quality that makes them a good substitute for foods higher in fat and calories like meat and cheese.

Portabella mushrooms are a good source of many nutrients, including: 

  • B vitamins
  • Phosphorus
  • Selenium
  • Copper
  • Potassium

Mushrooms are the only known non-animal source of vitamin D, but many commercial mushrooms are grown in dark indoor spaces, so these mushrooms don't contain significant amounts of vitamin D. Some commercial mushroom growers expose their mushrooms to ultraviolet (UV) light to increase their portabella mushrooms' vitamin D content. 

Portabella Mushrooms Anticancer Benefits

Portabella mushrooms contain non-nutritive compounds like polysaccharides, polyphenols, and carotenoids, which may have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer properties. In animal studies, mushrooms have been shown to stimulate immune cells and stop the growth and spread of cancer cells. 

Portabella Mushrooms Mental Benefits

Eating mushrooms may have protective effects on the brains of older adults and may reduce the risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). In a 2019 study of Chinese seniors aged 60 and older, people who ate two or more servings of mushrooms a week had a 52% reduction in the risk of developing MCI after controlling for other factors. 

Portabella Mushrooms Intestinal Health Benefits

‌Polysaccharides in mushrooms act as a food for beneficial gut bacteria, helping those beneficial strains grow and survive. Since 70% of the immune system is in the gut, eating gut-healthy foods like portabella mushrooms may improve immune function.

When buying portabella mushrooms, choose fresh, firm mushrooms. Avoid bruised portabella mushrooms or mushrooms with soft spots, which can be signs of spoilage. Fresh mushrooms spoil quickly and should be eaten as soon as possible.

Fresh portabella mushrooms should be stored refrigerated in their original container or a paper bag. Storing fresh mushrooms in an airtight container, unrefrigerated, can promote the growth of harmful bacteria that cause botulism.

Wash your hands before and after handling portabella mushrooms to help prevent cross-contamination. Clean mushrooms under running water immediately before cooking and eating. You don't need to use anything other than water to clean your mushrooms. Don't pre-wash your mushrooms — the moisture will spoil them faster.

Cooking Portabella Mushrooms

Wondering how to cook portabella mushrooms? Portabella mushrooms are versatile mushrooms and can be cooked in a variety of ways. Portabella mushrooms are popular in Italian dishes, where they're often added to pasta or sauces. Some other ideas you can try include:

  • Grill portabella mushrooms and use them in place of burger buns — or even in place of the burger! 
  • Marinate portabella mushrooms in vinegar and herbs and grill or pan-fry.
  • Slice portabella mushrooms in strips and cook them in a stir fry.
  • Stuff portabella mushrooms with ingredients like goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and spinach and bake in the oven.