Mushrooms and Healthy Aging

In 2001, one in eight Canadians was 65 years-of-age or older. By 2026, one in five Canadians will have reached age 65. And by the year 2041, 9.2 million, or one in four of us will have hit that golden age.1 Healthy aging is the key to optimizing the years we have without disease or other chronic conditions that may keep us from enjoying life to the fullest.

Eating a variety of nutritious foods for a low-fat, high-fibre diet, rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, is one good strategy for lowering our risk of disease and disease-related disabilities. Also, it keeps our brains and bodies in tip-top shape as the years pass by.2 Remember that healthy aging also requires daily physical activity along with activities that exercise the brain.

In general, energy/calorie needs do get lower with aging because we have less muscle, and more body fat and many of us tend to be less active. Keep in mind that we still need about the same amount of other important nutrients, including carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals, to stay healthy.3 And don’t forget the fluids. Here’s how mushrooms can be a tasty part of your anti-aging diet strategy.

Fresh Mushrooms Can Help!

Adding Antioxidants
  • Fresh mushrooms contain significant levels of l-ergothioneine, a naturally occurring antioxidant that may also help protect the body against disease.4 Ergothioneine is found in both raw and cooked mushrooms.
Fabulous Fibre
  • Fresh mushrooms contain both soluble and insoluble fibre. Insoluble fibre promotes regularity. Soluble fibre may help regulate blood sugar fluctuations and lower cholesterol levels.(5,6)
  • Beta-glucans, a type of soluble fibre, found in Maitake mushrooms (hen-of-the-woods) destroyed human prostatic cancers cells in a laboratory setting.7 They have also been found to have potential anti-inflammatory activity, which may help protect the body against disease.8
Marvelous Minerals
  • Fresh mushrooms are naturally very low in sodium and are a great way to boost flavor without adding a lot of salt in pastas, salads, stir-fries and more. A diet low in sodium can help prevent and control high blood pressure.9
  • A ½ cup serving of uncooked white button mushrooms is an excellent source of selenium. Researchers in the Netherlands found that men who ate the most selenium had a 31% lower risk of developing prostate cancer.10
Winning with Weight
  • Fresh mushrooms are perfect for low fat diets as they have high water content, are low in fat and contain some fibre which helps keep you feeling full.
  • Being at a healthy weight is an important factor in helping to prevent or delay many chronic diseases and disabilities. These include diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, certain cancers, gout and general wear and tear on joints.
  • Being at a healthy weight also makes it easier to be more active.
Mushrooms Make a Difference
  • Use ½ cup sliced crimini mushrooms instead of 4 oz. of sausage in pasta sauce or on pizza. Benefit: save 158 calories, 9 g fat, 4 g of saturated fat, 642 mg sodium.9
  • Add 1 cup sliced white button mushrooms to egg dishes instead of ½ cup shredded cheddar. Benefit: save 213 calories, 18 g fat, 12 g saturated fat, 353 mg sodium.9
  • Layer ½ cup sliced grilled portabella mushrooms onto sandwiches instead of 3 oz. salami. Benefit: save 336 calories, 30 g fat, 11 g saturated fat, 1582 mg sodium.9

For more about healthy aging visit the Canadian Association of Gerontology, or the Public Health Agency of Canada, Division of Aging & Seniors.

  1. Report: Canada’s Aging Population at
  2. American Dietetic Association. Position Paper of the American Dietetic Association: Nutrition Across the Spectrum of Aging. J Am Diet Assoc. 2005;105:616-633.
  3. Canadian Health Network Infosheet. I want to age well. What foods might be on my menu? At
  4. Dubost NJ, Beelman RB, Peterson D and Royse DJ. Identification and Quantification of Ergothioneine in Cultivated Mushrooms by Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectroscopy. Int J Med Mushr 2006;83:215-222.
  5. Chandalia M, Garg A, Lutjohann D, von Bergmann K, Grundy SM and Brinkley LJ. Beneficial effects of high dietary fibre intake in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. N Engl J Med 2000;341:1392-1398.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Fullerton SA, Samadi AA, Tortorelis DG et al. Induction of apoptosis in human prostatic cancer cells with beta-glucan (Maitake mushroom polysaccharide.) Mol Urol 2000;41:7-13.
  8. Lull C, Wichers HJ and Savelkoul HFJ. Antiinflammatory and Immunomodulating Properties of Fungal Metabolites. Mediators of Inflammation. 2005;2:63-80.
  9. Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada Treatment & Control – Dietary changes at
  10. Li H, Stampfer MJ, Giovannucci EL et al. A Prospective Study of Plasma Selenium Levels and Prostate Cancer Risk. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2004;96(9):696-703.
  11. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 19, 2006 at

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