Mushrooms are widely considered a superfood both because of their rich nutritional profile and because they are loaded with bioactive components that may offer a variety of health benefits. In the environment, fungi play the role of a decomposer, meaning they quickly and effectively break down nutrients in their surroundings, so it’s no surprise that each mushroom is like a multivitamin dose.
Those looking to incorporate one of many edible mushrooms into their diet often ask is there protein in mushrooms? The answer is simple. Yes, mushrooms have protein. In fact, they are a rich source of protein, and that’s true whether you have them cooked, dried, or fresh.
Before you dive in with spoon and fork, let’s break down the full nutritional profile of popular edible mushrooms.
Table of Contents
Mushrooms contain protein, alongside other nutrients, like fiber, healthy carbohydrates, and vitamins and minerals.
Mushrooms are so well balanced that they are often considered a superfood.
Many mushrooms can be eaten raw or cooked or can be consumed in extract form, such as in a mushroom latte.
How Mushrooms are Used
Not all mushrooms are edible, but of those that are, there are a wide variety of flavors, textures, and nutritional profiles to choose from. Edible mushrooms are often enjoyed raw and cooked in a wide variety of dishes, from salads to soups to grilled dishes and more.
Functional mushrooms, however, are often used in powdered extract form. This is the best way to reap the benefits of a mushroom’s beta-glucan content, the bioactive components that give some mushrooms certain anti-inflammatory, immune-stimulating, and gut-enhancing benefits.
To stay within the scope of this article, though, we’re going to focus on edible mushrooms that are used in a manner where the whole mushroom is consumed. Let’s dig in:
Mushroom Protein + Nutrition Profile
As a food, mushrooms are a powerful source of nutrients. The term “superfood” is not assigned frivolously–rather it is well deserved by pretty much all edible mushroom varieties. While no one food can contain every nutritional component you need for optimal health, mushrooms come pretty close.
More specifically, mushrooms contain the following:
1. Reasonable amounts of protein
Mushrooms are often lumped in with plants, but fungi organisms are truly more comparable to animals. With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that mushrooms contain plenty of protein. In fact, a study comparing the protein content and quality in meat versus mushrooms found that those consuming mushroom protein at breakfast were more satisfied and experienced less hunger throughout the day.
Mushrooms contain enough protein that they are considered useful meat alternatives for vegetarians and vegans. In fact, mycelium, the underground web of “roots” that spawn mushroom fruiting bodies, is sometimes used to create vegan meat alternatives.
Here’s a snapshot of the protein content in popular edible mushrooms according to nutritionvalue.org:
Protein Per 100 Grams (Raw)
2. Plenty of fiber (including prebiotic fiber)
Mushrooms are loaded with fiber, including the type of prebiotic fiber that’s needed to feed your probiotics, the “good” bacteria that lives within your gut microbiome. The chitin, or the polymer that makes up the mushroom cell wall, is an indigestible fiber that aids in digestion by adding “bulk” to your stool. Plus, although it’s indigestible to humans, it serves as food for gut bacteria like probiotics.
Gut health is heavily dependent on these probiotic organisms, and your overall gut health plays a big role in digestion, nutrient absorption, inflammation, immune system functions, and even mental/cognitive health. So, as it stands, mushrooms are great for gut health thanks to their hearty fiber content.
3. A hearty dose of vitamins and minerals
Vitamins and minerals are at the core of our body’s nutritional needs, and mushrooms are packed with both. Although the actual amounts vary by variety, most edible mushrooms contain a reasonable amount of the following nutrients:
- B vitamins
4. Health-boosting antioxidants
Most mushrooms contain a pretty hearty dose of antioxidants, or compounds that help to fight inflammation, prevent tissue damage (including in the brain), and support the body’s stress response.
Antioxidants are slowly becoming more prominent in the conversation of optimal nutrition, and researchers believe that they play an important role in the prevention of various diseases, like dementia and digestive diseases. Plus, packing in plenty of antioxidants may help to promote healthy aging by slowing tissue damage in the skin, brain, and other major organs.
5. Some edible mushrooms are medicinal, too.
Aside from having loads of nutritional value, some mushrooms also contain compounds that have been linked to very specific health benefits, Lion’s Mane, for instance, contains both hericenones and erinacines, two compounds that have been shown to improve nerve growth and memory.
Cordyceps mushroom contains cordycepin, a compound that has been described to have “very potent anti-cancer, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities.”
The list goes on and on, but we’ll break it down a bit. Some of the most common medicinal mushrooms and their specific benefits are as follows:
- Lion’s mane: A nootropic that supports cognitive health and improves memory and neural growth
- Maitake: An edible mushroom that promotes healthy digestion and metabolic health and boosts immunity.
- Reishi: A calming mushroom known for its ability to help the body regulate stress
- Tremella: A hydrating mushrooms that may promote healthy aging
- Chaga: An antioxidant-packed mushroom that promotes healthy aging and may have immune regulating potential.
- Cordyceps: An “athlete's mushroom” that supports healthy blood flow, energy, and endurance
- Turkey tail: A mushroom known to support the immune system.
Supplemental Mushroom Quality
When buying a supplemental mushroom product intended for therapeutic use, look for a product that:
- is made from mushroom extract, not whole mushroom powder
- is extracted from fruiting bodies and not mycelial biomass
- is made using a single hot water extraction process
- is organically sourced
- has a suitable, verifiable beta-glucan content
- has additional ingredients that are also clean and aligned with your needs
To learn more about how to choose a high-quality mushroom product, read “What to Look for When Buying Mushroom Coffee: The Health-Conscious Consumer’s Guide.”
Are Mushrooms Safe?
One of the most important questions you can ask about any product or supplement you plan to add to your wellness routine is "is it safe?"
Luckily, with most medicinal and edible mushrooms, the answer is yes!
Some mushrooms do have potential side effects, but they are overall recognized as safe when used responsibly. The most common causes of adverse reactions are poor product quality and allergic reactions.
Let's discuss some reactions that have occurred:
Potential Mushroom Side Effects
In rare cases, mushrooms may cause nausea, especially when taken in large doses or for those with sensitive stomachs.
Because mushrooms are rich in fiber, they can cause digestive upset in some people. This is more common when consuming mushrooms in large doses. This may include an upset stomach, gas, diarrhea, or nausea.
Some medicinal mushrooms may interact with certain medications, especially those known for thinning blood or altering blood pressure. Some antidepressants or antianxiety medications may also interact with mushroom supplements. Check with your doctor before you take medicinal mushrooms alongside other medications.
Although it is rare, some people experience a mushroom allergy. Symptoms of an allergic reaction to mushrooms may include:
- Swelling of the lips, mouth, and airways
- Difficulty breathing
- Skin rashes or hives
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach cramping
- Loose stools
Conclusion: Are Mushrooms a Good Source of Protein?
To sum it up–many mushrooms are a good source of protein, and many even carry significant therapeutic benefits and can be used supplementally.
If you’re looking to incorporate nutritional or medicinal mushrooms into your wellness routine, consider a mushroom blend. This is the best way to reap the diverse benefits of the fungi kingdom without having to consume piles of mushrooms.
Lucid beverages contain a premium mushroom extract–a blend of four different medicinal mushrooms, including lion’s mane, cordyceps, tremella, and maitake, plus a handful of other brain and body-boosting nootropics designed to help you breeze through your day. Try Lucid and unlock your full potential.
Read more about our ingredients, or check out one of our three flavor varieties:
- “Impact of Agaricus bisporus mushroom consumption on satiety and food intake” https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0195666317305998?via%3Dihub
- “Active compound in Lion’s Mane mushroom improves nerve growth and memory” https://www.news-medical.net/news/20230213/Active-compound-in-Lione28099s-Mane-mushroom-improves-nerve-growth-and-memory.aspx#:~:text=erinaceus%2C%20also%20known%20as%20Lion%27s,alkaloids%2C%20steroids%2C%20and%20polysaccharides.
“Pharmacological and therapeutic potential of Cordyceps with special reference to Cordycepin” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3909570/