WASHINGTON (PRNewswire) — Last week in Washington, DC, nearly 200 researchers; academics; and health, nutrition, government and industry professionals converged for the first-ever Mushrooms and Health Summit to explore the current state of science supporting the health benefits of mushrooms. Through the work presented by more than 20 international mushroom, economic, botanic, culinary, dietary and health experts, the Summit addressed several key areas in which mushroom consumption yields promising health outcomes.
"This meeting revealed an expansive canon of scientific research. We've evaluated results under the lens of our nation's most pressing health challenges: obesity; adequate vegetable consumption; nutrients of concern like vitamin D, immunity and neurological function," said Summit speaker and moderator Roger Clemens, DrPH, Adjunct Professor of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy at the University of Southern California and immediate past president of the Institute of Food Technologists. "By focusing on mushrooms' inherent nutritional properties, we are working together as a global community to identify ways to improve the health of our population, and encourage the continued growth of a vibrant industry," remarked Clemens.
Summary of Mushroom Key Findings from the Mushrooms and Health Summit
- Mushrooms have a unique nutrient composition: naturally low in calories, fat and cholesterol, they're the only source of vitamin D in the produce aisle; provide B vitamins and potassium (8% DV); and are a valuable source of micronutrients and antioxidants such as ergothionene and selenium.
- Mushrooms, when substituted for meat in meals, can potentially assist weight control in obese adults; short term data and data from up to 1 year duration show this utility of mushrooms resulted in lower overall energy and fat intake and better success at losing/maintaining weight over time compared to those who only ate meat.
- Mushrooms are a proven enhancer of both innate and adaptive immunity through consumption.
- Mushrooms, when exposed to ultraviolet light for a few seconds, can provide 100 percent of the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin D.
- Mushrooms' functional sensory and culinary properties – such as being rich in umami with a hearty, meaty taste and increasingly versatile – have them perfectly positioned to help Americans move towards healthier, plant-based menus and food choices.
- Mushroom cultivation is environmentally-friendly and requires minimum input of water and chemical additives to yield year-round crops.
Today's mushroom industry is a $1.1 billion business. Praised since ancient Greek, Roman, Chinese and Egyptian cultures, now mushrooms are purchased by 41 percent of American households and offered on menus in 80 percent of restaurants nationwide. "Nearly every day, new species of fungi are discovered within the fungal kingdom. Of an estimated 1.5 million fungal species worldwide, there are more than 100,000 known species, of which approximately 30 are commonly cultivated as edible mushrooms," said Lisa A. Castlebury, PhD, USDA Agricultural Research Service. "There is enormous potential and appetite for learning and research," she added.
Over the past decade, the mushroom industry has dedicated significant resources to better understand the nutritional properties and health benefits of mushrooms. The Summit served to facilitate a global dialogue about the current and potential dietary role of mushrooms and identify new areas for research on mushrooms in the areas of health and wellness.
About The Mushroom Council:
The Mushroom Council is composed of fresh market producers or importers who average more than 500,000 pounds of mushrooms produced or imported annually. The mushroom program is authorized by the Mushroom Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act of 1990 and is administered by the Mushroom Council under the supervision of the Agricultural Marketing Service. Research and promotion programs help to expand, maintain and develop markets for individual agricultural commodities in the United States and abroad. These industry self-help programs are requested and funded by the industry groups that they serve. For more information on the Mushroom Council, visit mushroomcouncil.org.