Are Mushrooms a Vegetable?

We eat mushrooms as a part of our normal diet all the time and they are believed to be healthy for us. But are mushrooms a vegetable? Mushrooms are considered a type of fungus but does that mean that mushrooms are not a vegetable or some other type of healthful food?

Are Mushrooms a Vegetable?

To better understand the answer to the question, you need to recognize exactly what a vegetable really is. The definition of vegetable includes the following: A vegetable is the part of a plant that you can eat. It may be a flower bud, the root, the stems, or the leaves of an edible plant. Vegetables are considered a necessary part of our diet and can be eaten raw or cooked in recipes.

Thus, mushrooms are not really vegetables. They have no seeds, no leaves, and no roots and, unlike vegetables, need no light source to flourish. Mushrooms are fungi—a different sort of edible food that sounds terrible when you think of it but actually tastes great and is good for you. Mushrooms grow in dark conditions and release spores in order to create new mushrooms.

So, Why Are Mushrooms Popular to Our Diet?

You have got the answer to "Are mushrooms a vegetable?" and know they are not. Then you may wonder why we eat them. Many people find mushrooms to be very tasty and don't care if they are healthful to us or not. According to the US Department of Agriculture, however, mushrooms are considered vegetables, not because of the way they are grown or their physical properties, but because they contain many of the same nutrients as vegetables. So, what are the healthful nutrients you can find in mushrooms and what healthful benefits do they impart?

  • Are Functional Foods

This means that they naturally contain very little cholesterol, fat, and sodium and are low in calories. They contain healthful anti-oxidants that battle oxygen-free radicals in our system; they also contain fiber for the gut, including beta-glucans and chitin. For this reason, mushrooms are good for our digestive health.

  • Low in Calories

A single cup of raw white mushrooms, chopped or sliced, contains only 15 calories. They are also free of fat and contain more than 2 grams of protein per serving and 2.3 grams of complex carbohydrates. It also includes 1.4 grams of sugar and 0.7 grams of insoluble fiber. If you choose another variety of mushroom besides white ones, you can expect to have about the similar nutrient content in them as the white ones do. Because mushrooms are so naturally low in calories, they can be a helpful part of a weight loss diet.

  • High in B Vitamins

When you eat mushrooms, you are getting loads of folate, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, niacin, and thiamine. Mushrooms are considered vegan and are the only true source of non-fortified vitamin D in vegan diets. Mushrooms are also high in copper, selenium, potassium, phosphorus, and iron. This makes mushrooms good for people who otherwise don't get these vitamins and minerals as part of their daily diet.

  • High in Beta-Glucans

This substance is a specific type of fiber located in the cell walls of most mushroom types. Beta-glucans have been studied by researchers who believe that they have a role in making insulin resistance better and in lowering cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. This has a positive impact on the incidence of obesity and can help you if your immune system is not so good.

  • High in Choline

Choline is a vital nutrient that has been found to help those with sleep problems and improves learning, memory and motor movement. Choline is also helpful in stabilizing the cell membranes of the cells in our body and helps nerve impulse transmission. It also aids in absorption of fat and lessens chronic inflammation. For these reasons, mushrooms are an all-around healthful food for people who want good cellular health and better sleep.

How to Include Mushroom in Diet Wisely

As you can see, mushrooms have so many health benefits you need as part of a well-rounded diet. In order to reap the benefits of mushrooms, you need to know how best to include mushrooms as part of the diet instead of asking "Are mushrooms a vegetable?" Here's how to use vegetables as part of your diet:

  • Sautee mushrooms with eggs. Mushrooms in eggs impart a savory flavor that makes for a great and healthy breakfast.
  • Slice mushrooms in salads. Mushrooms are great when eaten raw along with the other vegetable ingredients in a salad. They don't add many calories and taste great. One great choice is to chop mushrooms in tuna or egg salad. Mushrooms add that umami taste to these types of salads to make your sandwiches taste earthier and more delicious.
  • Sautee mushrooms with ground beef. You can make ground beef patties that taste wonderful by sautéing the mushrooms and then incorporating them into the ground beef patties.
  • Use mushrooms in soups and stews. Slice up some mushrooms in various soups, casseroles, or stew recipes for a great taste and added nutrition. 
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