Volume 17 Part 1 Article 5
Title: Nutrition Research – the Future Begins Now
Author: M.J. Feeney
Although often grouped with vegetables, mushrooms as fungi are in a class of their own nutritionally speaking. Mushrooms have a unique profile providing nutrients not typically found in plants as well as some nutrients more commonly found in animal products. Agaricus bisporus mushrooms—a widely cultivated species worldwide and commonly consumed in the United States—are shedding their image of being considered of lesser nutritional or functional value than some exotic or medicinal varieties.
In addition to providing core nutrients such as B vitamins, selenium and potassium, research suggests that A. bisporus mushrooms are potent inhibitors of aromatase in vitro and in vivo; contain ergothioneine and have a total antioxidant capacity higher than some other specialty mushrooms; enhance natural killer cell activity in animal studies and may improve immune function. Clinical trials are underway to determine whether white button mushrooms can act as an aromatase-inhibitor in postmenopausal breast cancer survivors. Mushrooms exposed to UV light to convert ergosterol to vitamin D2 would offer consumers additional choices to help meet increased recommended intake levels for vitamin D.
Communicating the results of nutrition research to consumers is essential if mushrooms are to be top of mind when consumers choose to eat for health. To identify and communicate compelling reasons for consumers to eat more mushrooms and increase consumption worldwide, the mushroom industry has undertaken a ‘Global Mushrooms and Health Initiative’ to provide the credible and scientific underpinning for public-relations efforts.