Here’s the Healthiest Way to Cook Mushrooms, According to Science

updated May 30, 2019
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(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

Ever wonder the best way to prepare mushrooms without sacrificing their nutritional content? A few scientists from the Mushroom Technological Research Center in La Rioja, Spain did and they have the answer for how to best prepare the fungus.

Mushrooms can be prepared in a variety of different ways, but some cooking techniques can make them lose their health appeal (they are rich in fiber, vitamins, and protein). The study, published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, compared nutritional profiles of four popular types of mushrooms (white button mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, and king oyster mushrooms) before and after being cooked. The team looked at how different cooking methods — like grilling, frying, boiling, and microwaving — impacted the nutritional profile of these types of mushrooms.

The scientists found boiling and frying to be a poor choice, as boiling resulted in a loss of vitamins while frying resulted in a loss of protein and spiked the fat content of mushrooms.

“Frying and boiling treatments produced more severe losses in proteins and antioxidants compounds, probably due to the leaching of soluble substances in the water or in the oil, which may significantly influence the nutritional value of the final product,” says Irene Roncero, one of the study’s authors, in a statement.

From a nutritional standpoint, grilling and microwaving were the two best techniques for preserving the nutrition of the vegetable. Both techniques had little loss of nutrition and they increased antioxidant levels in mushrooms.

“When mushrooms were cooked by microwave or grill, the content of polyphenol and antioxidant activity increased significantly, and there are no significant losses in nutritional value of the cooked mushrooms,” says Roncero.

Roncero says there’s no reason to shy away from “a little oil portion” when grilling mushrooms, as the small amount won’t cause any nutritional damage: “If olive oil is used, the fatty acid profile of the final preparation is enhanced with barely an increase in the calorie content.”