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Cut the calories BabywhitesCut the calories... put mushrooms on the menu

April 2011


We all know that the best way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories. The good news is that mushrooms are not only delicious; they are an official Superfood and a low energy density food.

Mushrooms contain the five B vitamins thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6) and folate; the essential minerals potassium, selenium, phosphorous and small, but nutritionally important, amounts of iron.

In the current climate of overweight and obesity, mushrooms contain virtually no fat, sugar or salt and combined with their high water and fibre content, they are the ultimate ally when it comes to losing weight. Their versatility means that they enhance most dishes and add flavour without adding to the energy content.

Exciting new research has shown that whilst their robust taste and hearty texture makes mushrooms a great substitute for meat and a filling and satisfying component of a meal, they also contain a lot fewer calories than meat, which means you cut down on those calories!  

A research study commissioned by the South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association (SAMFA) confirmed the essential role of mushrooms in a weight loss programme. The main focus of the South African study was to swap meat for mushrooms for four meals per week as part of a healthy balanced diet. The 9 participating male volunteers lost a total of 31 kg, an average of 3.44 kg in six weeks, with the top volunteer shedding 6.9 kilograms and nearly 8% of his body weight! Additionally, the waist circumference of the volunteers dropped an average of 4.64cm overall, with the top volunteer dropping 9.5cm!

Of particular importance was that the volunteers found no real difference in palatability, appetite, satiation or satiety between the mushroom meals and the meat meals. Moreover, results showed that by substituting mushrooms for meat, they, on average, consumed 420 less calories per meal!

Mushrooms clearly play an important role in any weight loss programme not only because they are a low density energy food which contains the right nutrients but because they leave you satisfied after a meal – thereby preventing that fatal urge to snack!

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