If you have been ignoring button mushrooms in favor of the more exotic ones such as shiitake, maitake, and reishi, consider this: research shows that the good old button mushroom contains just as much, if not more, antioxidant activity as its sexier-sounding counterparts. The three most common button mushrooms are the ubiquitous white, the brown or tan-colored crimini or cremini, and the portabella or portobello. The crimini and portobello are one and the same; in other words, crimini is an “immature” or “baby” portobello, while portobello is sometimes called an overgrown crimini mushroom.
Although often found with vegetables in the grocery case, mushrooms actually belong to the kingdom Fungi – consisting of organisms without chlorophyll or vascular tissue, and including things as diverse as yeasts and molds. While most of the mushrooms consumed in this country are farmed or cultivated, many grow wild throughout the world. However, some mushrooms are poisonous, so avoid gathering and eating them in the wild without proper guidance.
Nutrition Tidbits for Portobello Mushroom
- One cup of grilled portobello slices contains:
- Calories: 42 kcal
- Fat: 0.9 g
- Carbohydrates: 5.9g
- Protein: 5 g
- Fiber: 2.7 g
- Glycemic Index (GI): Low (below 55)
In addition to being low in fat and high in fiber, portobello mushrooms pack a serious nutritional punch. For example, they are an excellent source of selenium (very important mineral for optimal antioxidant activity), many of the B vitamins, and potassium. In addition, their polysaccharide and beta-glucan components exhibit anti-cancer properties.
When buying portobello mushrooms, look for smooth firm caps without wet slimy patches. Store them in the refrigerator inside a loosely closed paper bag or wrap them inside a damp cloth.
Ways to Include More Mushrooms in Your Diet
- Add them to salads, pasta sauce, soups, stir-fries, casseroles, or pizza.
- Use grilled portobello caps as flavorful burger “patties” – no need for meat here.
- Use them as the “bread” for your sandwich or breakfast muffin.