What are white mushrooms?
White mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) belong to the Fungi kingdom and constitute about 90% of the mushrooms consumed in the United States (2Trusted Source).
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 (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).
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 (5Trusted Source):
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 (6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source).
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 (8Trusted Source).
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 (9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source).
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 (11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).
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.
Benefits of eating white mushrooms
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 (13Trusted Source).
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 (14Trusted Source).
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 (15Trusted Source).
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 (15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source).
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 (15Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source).
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 (23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source).
Additionally, vitamin C inhibits certain enzymes, preventing cancer from spreading (24Trusted Source).
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 (25Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source).
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 (14Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source).
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 (28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source).
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 (30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source).
Improved gut health. Their polysaccharides also act as prebiotics, or food for your beneficial gut bacteria, which help improve gut health (33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source, 35Trusted Source)