Is mushroom a protein or carbohydrate?

Quick Answer

Mushrooms are considered neither a protein nor a carbohydrate. They are fungi that contain a moderate amount of protein and carbs. Mushrooms get their nutrition from absorbing organic matter, which is why they don’t fit neatly into either macronutrient category.

What Are Mushrooms?

Mushrooms are fungi that belong to the scientific phyla Basidiomycota and Ascomycota. There are thousands of species of mushroom that grow in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Common types of mushrooms include white, cremini, portobello, oyster, shiitake and maitake.

Mushrooms are composed of mycelium, which is a mass of threadlike cells called hyphae. The mycelium makes up the main body of the mushroom that grows underground. Mushrooms also produce a fruit body that protrudes above the ground and is the visible portion that is collected for consumption.

The fruit body of mushrooms contains the cap, gills and stipe. The cap protects the gills where microscopic spores are produced. These spores allow mushrooms to reproduce.

How Do Mushrooms Get Their Nutrition?

Unlike plants, mushrooms cannot produce their own food through photosynthesis. Instead, mushrooms are saprotrophic organisms, meaning they absorb nutrients from decaying organic matter in the environment.

The mycelium of mushrooms releases digestive enzymes that decompose dead or living material in the soil, including leaves, wood and animal waste. This provides the fungus with nitrogen, phosphorus, trace minerals and various compounds to support growth.

Mushrooms contain 83–92% water by weight. The remaining dry matter provides proteins, fats, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins and minerals. However, the nutritional content of mushrooms can vary greatly depending on the species, growth medium, stage of development, sunlight exposure, and preparation method.

Macronutrients in Mushrooms

The three primary macronutrients found in foods are protein, carbohydrates and fat. Here is the macronutrient breakdown of raw mushrooms (3):

Macronutrient Amount in 100g Raw Mushrooms
Protein 2.5–4.3 g
Carbohydrates 3.0–8.4 g
Fiber 0.7–2.4 g
Sugars 0.8–3.0 g
Fat 0.3–0.8 g

As you can see, mushrooms contain a moderate amount of both protein and carbs. They have low fat and are considered a nutrient-dense, low-calorie food.

Are Mushrooms a Protein?

Although mushrooms contain protein, they are not considered a high-protein food. Most fungi provide about 2–5% of dry weight as protein (1).

Here are some points on the protein content of mushrooms:

– Protein makes up 19–35% of the dry weight of mushrooms (4).

– The protein in mushrooms contains all nine essential amino acids. However, some amino acids are found in only trace amounts.

– Mushrooms contain less protein than animal products and legumes. Compared to other vegetables, they provide a moderate protein amount.

– The protein in mushrooms has lower digestibility compared to most plant and animal-based proteins.

– Mushroom protein is considered of higher quality than other vegetables, but less than milk, eggs, meat and legumes.

So in summary, mushrooms do contain a moderate amount of complete protein with lower bioavailability than most sources. While they can contribute to your daily protein intake, they are not considered a high protein food.

Are Mushrooms a Carbohydrate?

Like protein, mushrooms contain a moderate amount of carbohydrates:

– Raw mushrooms provide around 3–8 grams of carbs per 100 grams.

– Most of the carbs in mushrooms come from chitin, glycogen and mannitol. Chitin accounts for up to 80–90% of the total polysaccharides.

– Mushrooms contain both simple sugars like glucose and fructose, as well as complex carbs like starch and fiber. The fiber content ranges from 7–24% of dry weight.

– The carb content is affected by mushroom strain, growth phase, processing method and cooking techniques.

– Mushrooms have a glycemic index of 10 and glycemic load of 1, making them an optimal low-carb vegetable.

Based on their macronutrient profile, mushrooms would not be categorized specifically as a high-carb food. They provide a moderate amount of total carbohydrates and fiber compared to other vegetables.

Other Nutrients in Mushrooms

Aside from protein and carbs, mushrooms also provide a variety of micronutrients:

– Mushrooms are low in fat and high in water content. The fat content ranges from 0.3–0.8g per 100g.

– Mushrooms contain B vitamins like riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and folate. Some types provide high amounts of vitamin D.

– They provide minerals like potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium and copper.

– Mushrooms contain various bioactive compounds such as ergothioneine, phenolic acids, flavonoids, carotenoids, alkaloids and lectins.

– Common varieties like white button mushrooms offer around 15 calories in a 100g serving, while shiitakes provide up to 40 calories per 100g.

So while not high in protein or carbs, mushrooms offer a diverse mix of vitamins, minerals, fiber and bioactive compounds that contribute to their nutritional value.

Health Benefits of Mushrooms

Research shows that mushrooms offer several health benefits:

– Mushrooms support immune function. Compounds like polysaccharides, phenolics, and terpenoids have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that strengthen immunity.

– Certain mushroom extracts inhibit tumor growth and metastasis through various mechanisms, indicating potential anti-cancer benefits.

– Consumption of mushrooms may modulate obesity and related metabolic disorders due to effects on lipid metabolism, glucose homeostasis, gut microbiota and low calorie density.

– Compounds in mushrooms like ergothioneine help reduce oxidative stress and prevent cognitive decline, making them neuroprotective.

– Mushrooms may promote heart health by regulating lipid metabolism and blood pressure, with cardiovascular protection capabilities.

– Components such as chitin, fiber and phenolics may benefit digestive health through prebiotic and microbiome modulation and laxation effects.

– Mushrooms contain natural antibiotics like lectins that defend against viral and bacterial infection. They have antimicrobial, antiviral and anti-parasitic properties.

Overall, research on the medicinal properties of mushrooms is emerging. Early evidence indicates mushrooms may offer multi-systemic health benefits. However, more human trials are needed.

Mushroom Consumption

Some tips for incorporating more mushrooms into your diet:

– Choose fresh mushrooms sold whole rather than sliced to prevent moisture loss. Caps should be closed.

– Store mushrooms in a paper bag in the refrigerator. Use within a few days of purchase.

– Clean mushrooms just before cooking by brushing or wiping with a damp cloth. Avoid soaking to prevent absorption of water.

– Cooking mushrooms reduces their volume but concentrates the nutrient content per serving.

– Mushrooms pair well with meat, vegetable and grain dishes. Try them sautéed, roasted, grilled or added to soups, stews and casseroles.

– For a nutrient boost, use mushrooms to partly replace meat in dishes like burgers, meatballs and tacos.

– Use mushroom powder to increase umami flavor in dips, sauces, dressings and baked goods.

– For a dietary source of vitamin D, opt for mushrooms exposed to UV light or sunlight during growth.

With their versatile flavor and texture, mushrooms are an easy way to add nutrients and variety to plant and meat-based meals.

Mushroom Protein and Carb Content

The protein and carb content can vary substantially depending on the mushroom type. Here is the nutrient data for 100g of some common mushroom varieties (5, 6, 7):

Mushroom Protein (g) Carbs (g)
White 3.1 3.3
Portobello 2.2 4.7
Cremini 3.0 3.7
Shiitake 2.2 7.0
Oyster 2.8 4.0
Enoki 2.5 5.8
Maitake 3.2 8.4

Shiitake, enoki and maitake mushrooms tend to be higher in carbohydrates. Portobello and white mushrooms are lower in carbs but provide more protein than most other varieties.

In the end, all mushrooms offer a nutritious package of nutrients and health promoting compounds. Adding a variety of mushroom types to your diet can provide protein, carbs, vitamins and other beneficial substances.


Mushrooms are a type of edible fungus that provide a range of nutrients, including protein, carbs, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. However, they are not classified specifically as either a high-protein food or a high-carb food.

Mushrooms contain a moderate amount of protein compared to most vegetables, with lower digestibility than animal products. They also provide 3-8g of carbohydrate per 100g, mostly in the form of chitin, fiber and sugars.

Research shows mushrooms offer many evidence-based health benefits, from boosting immunity to preventing neurological decline. Adding more mushrooms to your diet can increase intake of various essential nutrients and bioactive compounds.

Overall, mushrooms qualify as neither a protein nor a carbohydrate. Instead, they serve as a nutrient-dense functional food that provides a unique health-promoting composition of macronutrients, micronutrients and phytochemicals.

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