Healthiest Mushrooms: 9 Varieties Ranked by Nutrient Density
In this post, we’ll rank the healthiest mushrooms by nutrient density. We’ll also rank the mushroom with the highest protein density, the highest fiber-to-sugar ratio, and the lowest sodium-to-potassium ratio.
There are a variety of healthy mushrooms that all provide unique flavors and textures to meals.
Mushrooms can be quite delicious. All edible mushrooms, that is.
Mushrooms are one of the few edible organics you should not try to forage yourself. In Bradford Angier’s 315 page guide, How to Stay Alive in the Woods, there is a single page dedicated to mushrooms. There, Angier explains that there are no tried and true methods for distinguishing edible vs. poisonous mushrooms, and that “one should avoid whenever possible turning to mushrooms for emergency food.”
Fortunately, most of us get our mushrooms from the grocery store!
And here you will find several of the healthiest mushrooms on our list.
The Healthiest Mushrooms are Nutrient Dense
Mushrooms are low-calorie foods. Much of their weight is water.
However, within the calories they provide, there are a multitude of micronutrients that go along for the ride.
In fact, mushrooms contain adequate amounts of nearly every mineral on a per calorie basis. As a percentage of your recommended intake requirements, every mushroom on the list meets your needs for copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and zinc.
And crimini mushrooms and morel mushrooms even round out the list with adequate levels of calcium, too.
A few other notable mineral facts:
Portabella mushrooms have over 30X the required selenium per calorie.
Morel mushrooms have over 40X the required iron per calorie.
Crimini mushrooms have over 50X the required copper and 12X the required zinc per calorie.
Mushrooms are also a great source of B-vitamins. With the exception of Chanterelle (being slightly low in thiamin and folate), all other mushrooms on the list contain adequate amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, folate, and choline.
And with the exception of crimini and enoki mushrooms, all others are good sources of vitamin D.
A few notable vitamin facts:
White mushrooms are the only mushrooms with substantial vitamin C, at 2.5X the required amount per calorie.
Maitake mushrooms have over 100X the required vitamin D per calorie.
Crimini, portabella, and white mushrooms even contain trace levels of vitamin B12, common only in animal-derived products.
The Healthiest Mushrooms Ranked
The following interactive chart provides a ranking of the healthiest mushrooms using USDA Food Database-derived nutrient data.
Hover over each mushroom to see the micronutrient breakdown, and feel free to share!
What are the Healthiest Mushrooms? (Interactive Charts)
Protein in Mushrooms
Several mushrooms are a surprisingly good source of protein on a calorie-by-calorie basis.
The USDA Guidelines recommend that 10-35% of your calories should come from protein. With that in mind, all the healthiest mushrooms on this list meet the minimum threshold, while a few even exceed it.
White mushrooms are the most protein-dense mushrooms on a per calorie basis, while oyster mushrooms have the most protein on a per weight basis.
Protein in Mushrooms
Fiber and Sugar in Mushrooms
Healthy foods generally tend to have higher amounts of fiber and lower amounts of sugar.
One convenient way to look at this is through the fiber-to-sugar ratio. By take the ratio of these values, the healthiest mushrooms have a higher value indicating they contain more fiber in relation to sugar.
This ratio helps explain why fruits, high in fiber, don’t exhibit the same negative health effects of other high sugar food products.
While Chanterelle mushrooms have the highest fiber content on a per weight basis, enoki mushrooms possess the highest fiber-to-sugar ratio.
See our chart below to see rankings of the healthiest mushrooms by fiber-to-sugar ratio, fiber content, and sugar content.
High Fiber, Low Sugar Mushrooms
Sodium and Potassium in Mushrooms
Healthy foods also tend to have higher amounts of potassium with respect to sodium.
While sodium is important for the diet, we tend to eat sodium in concentrations far exceeding the recommended intake values. This can lead to an increased risk of hypertension, a disease that now affects nearly half of all American adults.
Maitake mushrooms have the lowest sodium-to-potassium ratio.
However, it should be noted that all the healthiest mushrooms on the list have excellent sodium-to-potassium scores. Any of these mushrooms can make excellent, low-sodium additions to your meals.
Low Sodium, High Potassium Mushrooms
Where Does Your Favorite Fall on the List?
The healthiest mushrooms are low in calorie but high in micronutrient density. Mushrooms are dense in most minerals, most B-vitamins, and vitamin D.
Several mushrooms have a good fiber-to-sugar ratio, and all have a low sodium-to-potassium ratio.
Furthermore, mushrooms provide protein-dense foods that can add flavor to a variety of meals.
Do you have a favorite on the list?