Mushrooms are easily one of the most versatile vegetables out there both in terms of nutritional value and flavor. They’re also widely popular, making their way into everything from pizzas and pastas to traditional roasts and salads. What more could you want from one vegetable?
The most common type of mushroom grown worldwide is the white mushroom, which is great at absorbing a variety of flavors. But we haven’t arrived as yet as to why you’re here: are mushrooms keto-friendly? In one word: absolutely! In fact, we’d go so far as to say mushrooms are one of the most keto-friendly food items out there with its high protein, low carb properties.
Due to this, they’re considered a valuable addition to almost all kinds of weight loss, healthy living diet plans. After all, the whole idea of keto and other weight-loss diets is to limit carb intake strictly, and mushrooms complement this perfectly.
In the following sections, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about mushrooms for your diet, from their nutritional values and properties to a few simple recipe ideas. Happy reading!
Types of Mushrooms?
If you’ve just begun a keto diet, you may have seen mushrooms featured on several lists as a keto-friendly food item. In case you’re from a region that doesn’t produce or import mushrooms and are wondering what they are, we’ve got you covered.
Though they’re commonly referred to as a vegetable, mushrooms are actually a kind of fungi. They mostly grow on composted soil alongside bacteria and other types of fungi. There are several medicinal benefits of consuming mushrooms, such as boosting heart health, which is why they’ve been popular since the dawn of civilization.
Ancient Egyptians actually believed that mushrooms would make them immortal! Consuming mushrooms also helps prevent diseases and chronic illnesses in people of all ages, contributing to their universal appeal.
A few common types of mushrooms are as follows:
- White mushrooms – Agaricus Bisporus
- White mushrooms with a brown tint – Crimini mushrooms
- Dark, fully grown mushrooms – Portobello mushrooms
A few more that are not as popular as the ones above but still in use are:
- Turkey tail
Since fresh mushrooms have a fairly short shelf life of 3-4 days, you can purchase frozen, canned, or dried mushrooms in most supermarkets and use those instead. These usually preserve most of their nutritional quality, so you don’t have to worry about that.
If you don’t enjoy dried mushrooms, you can soak them in water too before you cook them as they do retain a lot of moisture. One of the best features of mushrooms is that they can be harvested at many different points during their maturity.
Also, most importantly, the nutrient-rich mushroom is an excellent source of:
- Vitamin D: Lack of vitamin D has been associated with cancer
- Vitamin B: Mushrooms are particularly rich in Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), and B5 (pantothenic acid)
- Selenium: It helps prevent the spread of infectious diseases and reduces the risk of heart attacks
- Antioxidants: These boost the working of your immune system
- Potassium: Lack of it can lead to the formation of kidney stones. Also, potassium helps control blood pressure and nerve function.
- Dietary fiber: It fills you up and aids weight loss.
- Beta-glucan: A soluble fiber that helps regulate blood sugar and improve heart health.
Due to the presence of all these nutrients, mushrooms are rightly considered ideal for boosting long-term health.
Mushrooms and Keto
On the most basic level, a keto diet is meant to limit your calorie/carb intake and help you achieve ketosis. In order to substitute carbs, you’ll have to consume foods rich in vital minerals and vitamins to aid your diet plan.
As discussed in the previous section, mushrooms are a great source of many such vitamins and minerals, so it figures why they’re considered keto-friendly.
To be more thorough, let us examine some nutritional information on mushrooms.
A cup of mushrooms contains:
- 3 g of carbs
- 16 calories
- 2 g of protein
- 0 mg of cholesterol
- 4 mg of sodium
- 223 g of potassium
- 2 g of fat
- 1 g of fiber
With the help of this information, it’s easy to see why mushrooms are so heavily featured in every weight loss diet. They may be low on carbs but are very high in volume. Also, mushrooms are a good source of sodium, which helps prevent potential side effects of following a keto diet such as the dreaded keto flu.
Now, you may be wondering what the best way is to eat mushrooms to integrate them into your keto-friendly diet. While you can eat them raw, we’d recommend you eat them cooked instead. That way, you can pair them with other vegetables to build up on nutritional value.
If you don’t want to go to the trouble of seeking out mushrooms and cooking them, you can snack on them instead. One such tasty snack is Snak Yard Shiitake Mushroom. It doesn’t contain any artificial flavors and is non-GMO as well. It has the perfect crunchy texture to satisfy your potato chip cravings, so we’d recommend you give it a shot.
However, if you do want to try your hand at cooking mushrooms, we’ve got a few quick and simple recipe ideas right here for you:
Italian Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms
Sounds delicious? It is! Don’t worry about the addition of cheese here; it’s just the right amount to satisfy you without the accompanying feeling of bloating. This recipe is quite low on carbs and calories (as you’d expect with a recipe that champions mushrooms) and is completely vegetarian.
Chicken in Mushroom Sauce
This creamy recipe is sure to be a holiday favorite for the whole family. You can use either boneless chicken breast or chicken thighs for this one. Make sure the skin is off the chicken too. It’s a quick recipe and won’t take you more than an hour to prepare.
We found it goes really well with French loaf or mashed potatoes on the side.
Mushroom Pasta with Halloumi and Zucchini
Are you confused with the addition of pasta in a low-carb, keto diet? Fret not! This is keto-friendly pasta we’re talking about – zucchini pasta, which is low in carbs and calories. You can use cheese in there along with seasoning of your choice (we’d recommend Italian) to elevate the flavor.
You can even add chicken or tofu to this dish if you’d like to up your protein intake.
Crab Stuffed Mushrooms
‘Lip-smacking’ is the only way to describe this dish. Crabmeat is lauded for its distinctive sweet flavor, which goes exceptionally well with cheese. We’d recommend you use parmesan here. It is one of the more calorie-rich recipes on this list, so we’d advise you to reserve this one for special occasions and cheat days only.
Portobello Mushroom Pizza
Yes, keto followers can enjoy pizza too. This pizza is as tasty as any you can get out of Domino’s with less than half the calories! It requires Portobello mushrooms, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni slices, and Italian seasoning. Make sure you use olive oil while baking to keep this dish as healthy as possible.
Crumbled Mushroom Portobello
This low carb snack is the perfect substitute for potato chips, corn chips, or nachos with salsa. Never mind keto, this dish would make a great appetizer at a party anyway. We’d recommend some fresh ranch sauce for dipping to really enhance the flavor.
Even though we’ve mentioned Portobello, you can use other kinds of mushrooms for this dish as well.
Cream of Mushroom Soup
This dish is perfect for those cold winter months when you’d like nothing better to tuck into a hearty bowl of soup. This recipe calls for onion, bone broth, heavy cream, almond milk (unsweetened), and seasoning. We recommend you keep the seasoning simple (black pepper and sea salt) and use olive oil while sautéing the onions and mushrooms.
This recipe is ideal for a quick midweek supper when you don’t have a lot of time to prepare an elaborate meal. Even though you can use any combination of vegetables for this recipe, we’d recommend bell peppers, broccoli, onions, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes along with mushrooms.
You can use balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, black pepper, and salt for seasoning, pretty simple, right?
Though this article mainly focuses on how useful mushrooms are to a keto diet follower, you’d have figured out that they have a lot of benefits outside of this too. They contain a wealth of vitamins and minerals, which make them an ideal inclusion in meal plans for people of all ages and lifestyles.
There’s a reason mushrooms have been around for generations, and it’s not just because of how healthy they are. They’re known to complement dishes across cultures and civilizations, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Their unique, spongy texture and subtle taste allow them to serve well as both a snack and a main dish.
Even if you don’t like mushrooms as of now, we’d recommend you try out a recipe or two from the ones we’ve covered above and give it another chance. Don’t be surprised if it grows on you after that because we won’t be!