Cultivating a Taste for Mushrooms

by Diane Lofshult on Apr 01, 2007

From portobellos to white truffles, mushrooms are taking center stage on the dinner plate at many of the world’s best restaurants. Although mushrooms are typically found in the produce department of your supermarket, these tasty morsels are actually considered fungi and provide nutrients such as riboflavin, niacin and selenium, which are not usually associated with fruits and veggies.

Health Benefits. With only 20 calories per 1-cup serving, these fabulous fungi also boast absolutely no fat or cholesterol, so they are a heart-healthy addition to anyone’s diet. Mushrooms are fiber-rich, and many varieties are loaded with a compound called chitin, which may lower cholesterol levels.

Varieties of Mushrooms. Cremini mushrooms (the brown-capped button type) are best suited for sautéing, roasting or grilling, whereas portobellos are simply mature cremini whose firm texture makes them a great meat substitute. Buttery-tasting shiitakes are often featured in Chinese and Japanese stir-fry recipes, while enoki mushrooms are best served raw. White truffles have a pungent, garlicky taste, while porcini and maitake are excellent when sautéed.

Cooking With Mushrooms. The best way to enhance the flavor of mushrooms is to oven-roast them on a cookie sheet or sauté them in a pan until they are caramelized. Sautéed mushrooms, especially creminis, are wonderful as a topping for whole-wheat pasta dishes. Or combine shaved, fresh porcini mushrooms with grated Parmesan cheese, olive oil and a touch of salt and pepper for a quick and easy salad.

tasty tidbits

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About the Author

Diane Lofshult

Diane Lofshult IDEA Author/Presenter

Diane Lofshult is an award-winning freelance author who specializes in nutrition and weight management topics. She is the founder of In Other Words, an editorial consulting firm based in Solana Beach, California. Reach her at