Preliminary research led by Dr. Lawrence Cheskin, MD, Director of John Hopkins Weight Management Center, suggests increasing intake of low-energy density foods like mushrooms in place of high-energy-density foods like lean ground beef is a strategy for preventing or treating obesity. This is good news for the more than one-third of U.S. adults age 20 and older who are obese, according to the Center for Disease Control and who therefore have a greater risk factor for cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes. (1)

In a Mushroom Council study led by Dr. Cheskin, study participants were randomly chosen to receive either beef or mushroom lunch entrées over four days – lasagna, napoleon, sloppy Joe and chili. Subjects then switched entrées to consume the other ingredient (mushroom or beef) the following week.

Energy (calorie) intakes were significantly higher during meat meals than mushroom meals, a difference that averaged 420 more calories and 30 more fat grams per day over the four-day test period. Subjects' ratings for palatability (meal appeal), appetite, satiation (after meal fullness) and satiety (general fullness) did not differ between groups.

"The most intriguing finding was that subjects seemed to accept mushrooms as a palatable and suitable culinary substitute for meat," said Dr. Cheskin. "They didn't compensate for the lower calorie mushroom meal by eating more food later in the day."

The preliminary findings of Cheskin's team follow findings from other initial data that suggested if men substituted a 4-ounce Portabella mushroom for a 4-ounce grilled hamburger every time they ate a grilled hamburger over the course of a year, and didn't change anything else, they could save more than 18,000 calories and nearly 3,000 grams of fat.(2)

That's the equivalent of 5.3 pounds or 30 sticks of butter.

In addition, white button mushrooms may be nature's hidden treasure for vitamin D, a nutrient many Americans do not get enough of for the required daily intake.(3-5) Mushrooms are the only fresh vegetable or fruit with 4 percent of the daily value of Vitamin D per serving and preliminary research suggests that a standard serving of mushrooms can provide up to 100 percent of the daily value of vitamin D after just five minutes of contact with sunlight.(6,7)

A serving of four-five white button mushrooms has 20 calories and no fat, saturated fat or cholesterol but is nutrient-rich. In fact, mushrooms are also the leading source of the antioxidant selenium in the fruit and vegetable category and a good source of the B vitamins riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid, which help break down proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Toss in a handful of delicious, nutrient-dense mushrooms into your favorite dish.

Article: Cheskin LJ, Davis LM, Lipsky LM, Mitola AH, Lycan T, Mitchell V, Mickle B, Adkins E. Lack of energy compensation over 4 days when white button mushrooms are substituted for beef. Appetite. 2008:51;50-57.


(1) CDC National Center for Health Statistics. Obesity Among Adults in the United States-No Statistically Significant Change Since 2003-2004. Data Brief Number 1, November 2007.

(2) Block, Dietary Data Systems. Analysis of NHANES III Data. Mushrooms: More Than Just Another Fungus. March 2004.

(3) U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005. Chapter 2.

(4) Holick MF. Vitamin D Deficiency. N Engl J Med. 2007;357:266-81.

(5) Calvo MS, Whiting SJ. Prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in Canada and the United States: importance to health status and efficacy of current food fortification and dietary supplement use. Nutr Rev. 2003;61(3):107-13.

(6) Jasinghe VJ, Perera CO. Distribution of ergosterol in different tissues of mushrooms and its effect on the conversion of ergosterol in vitamin D2 by UV irradiation. Food Chem. 2005;2:541-546

(7) Calvo M. FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition and the Mushroom Council Collaborate to Optimize the Natural Vitamin D Content of Edible Mushrooms and to Examine their Health Benefits in Different Rodent Models of Innate Immunity. Presented at 2006 FDA Science Forum A Century of FDA Science: Pioneering the Future of Public Health. April 18-20, 2006, Washington Convention Center.