08 July, 2011
What Are the Health Benefits of Morel Mushrooms?
Morel mushrooms are a wild variety that you can safely eat. These tasty fungi are also easy to identify, having hollow stems and caps that look a bit like holey sponges. Morel mushrooms provide significant stores of nutrients, making them a healthy addition to any meal.
Low in Calories and Fat
A 1-cup serving of raw morel mushrooms only contains 20 calories and provides 2 grams of protein, 0.4 grams of fat and 3.4 grams of carbohydrates, including 1.8 grams of fiber. Use morel mushrooms to make a nutritious mushroom soup, top your pasta or add flavor to an omelet without piling on much in the way of calories or fat to the finished dish.
High in Iron and Phosphorus
Morels provide a significant amount of iron and phosphorus. Eat a cup of morels, and you will have consumed 8 milligrams of iron -- the recommended dietary allowance for adult men. (Women under 55 still need another 10 milligrams in their diet.) Getting enough iron in your diet will help prevent anemia, as iron is essential to form the red blood cells that transport oxygen throughout your body. Phosphorus also helps deliver oxygen and plays a role in forming strong bones and DNA.
Rich in Vitamin D
Although not many foods are natural sources of vitamin D, you get about 100 international units of vitamin D in each cup of morel mushrooms you eat -- compare that to the RDA of 600 international units for adults under 70. You need vitamin D for proper immune function as well as for absorbing calcium to form strong bones. Getting plenty of vitamin D in your diet may help lower your risk for osteoporosis, cancer, type-2 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and high blood pressure, although the evidence for most of these potential benefits is still preliminary, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements.
Morel mushrooms provide a significant amount of antioxidants. Consuming foods high in antioxidants may help prevent some health problems, including heart disease and cancer, as these substances help keep other substances called free radicals from damaging your cells.
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Mushrooms, Morel, Raw
- Mother Earth News: A Guide to Hunting for Morel Mushrooms
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Mushrooms: Taste of the Earth
- Pharmaceutical Biology: Evaluation of Free Radical Scavenging of Morel Mushroom
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Iron
- Linus Pauling Institute: Phosphorus
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin D
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Calculate the Percent Daily Value for the Appropriate Nutrients
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Antioxidants
- Mallivan/iStock/Getty Images