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Which High-Protein Mushrooms Have the Most Protein?

edible high protein mushrooms being prepared for cooking

Mushrooms are a nutritional powerhouse. Best known for being a protein source, mushrooms also double up as great sources of fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. As a bonus for weight-watchers, they’re low in calories too. If you’re looking to supplement your vegetarian/vegan diet with alternative protein sources, or you just want some variety, mushrooms might just be your thing.

But before you rush out to your nearest organic store to stock up on a week’s supply of health-giving mushrooms, first things first. Do you know how much protein the average mushroom contains? More importantly, which mushroom varieties should you select if the protein is your number one priority? We’ll be covering all this and more next!

Are Mushrooms High in Protein?

The amount of nutrients present can vary from mushroom to mushroom. But in general, expect a cup of mushrooms (1 cup would be your typical serving size) to contain in the region of 2.2g worth of protein. For all the hype, this can seem underwhelming, which is why it’s important to look at mushrooms as being a protein add-on and not your only source of protein.

We’ll be looking at alternative sources of plant protein later on in this article, and we’ll also be comparing how the quantity of proteins in mushrooms stacks up against meat proteins. This will help you figure out how much of what you should put into your diet to make sure it’s more nutritionally balanced.

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Why the Protein Content of Mushrooms Matters

Quite simply, the protein in mushrooms is low calorie. For the 1-cup serving size we talked about previously, you’ll be consuming just 15 calories. The amount of fat present in the same amount is also negligible, and it's mostly of the heart-friendly kind, also called polyunsaturated fat.

Mushrooms are also low-carb with an average carb content of 2.3g per 1 cup serving, but they’re also fibre-rich. So the protein in mushrooms is low-fat, low-calorie, and low-carb but packed with fibre, so you’ll feel fuller for longer — great if you’re calorie-counting or trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

That’s not all. Mushrooms have been proven to provide numerous health benefits. The potassium present in mushrooms helps reduce blood pressure. Mushrooms have an anti-inflammatory effect, so they help boost your immune system’s efficiency.

The antioxidants in certain mushroom types, like porcini and white button mushrooms, help fight cell damage and improve brain function. Some mushrooms may be treated artificially to improve their levels of Vitamin D. Otherwise, you can source Vitamin D naturally through wild mushrooms, but you need to know which ones to pick because some of them may be toxic.

Protein Content of Mushrooms vs Meat

The amount of protein an adult needs can depend on their age, how active they are, and any medical conditions they have. But in general, it is recommended that adults consume 0.8 g of protein per kilogram of body weight.

With this calculation in mind, it’s easy to see why mushrooms can be woefully inadequate in terms of protein despite their obvious nutritional benefits. For every cup worth of mushrooms, depending on the variety, (and how many mushrooms can you realistically eat in one sitting?), you get up to 2.2 g of protein.

Assuming that you’re on a 2000-calorie diet with a requirement of 50g of protein per day, you’ll need to supplement with additional sources of protein.

Let’s compare the amount of protein present in traditional meat sources:

  • Chicken breast — 31g of protein per 100g of meat
  • Skirt steak — 28.7 g of protein per 100g of meat
  • Pork loin — 27.3g of protein per 100g of meat
  • Duck meat — 23.5g of protein per 100g of meat
  • Egg — 6 to 8g of protein per egg, on average

What About Other Plant-based Protein Sources?

There are a lot of vegetarian protein sources that offer comparably more protein than mushrooms. Here are a few of the most commonly consumed ones and their protein content summarised:

  • Beans — 6 to 9g of protein per ½ cup
  • Lentils — 12g of protein per ½ cup of cooked lentils
  • Edamame soybeans (shells removed) — 18g of protein per cup
  • Green peas — 8g per cup of cooked green peas
  • Tofu — 8g of protein per 3.5-ounce serving
  • Tempeh — 15 to 16g of protein per 3-ounce serving
  • Peanuts — 9g of protein per quarter-cup serving
  • Cottage cheese — 14g of protein per ½ cup of the low-fat version
  • Grain (quinoa) — 8g of protein per cup of cooked quinoa
  • Grain (brown rice) — 4.5g of protein per cup of cooked brown rice

Highest Protein Mushrooms Ranked from Most to Least

With that said, next, we’ll be ranking mushrooms based on the highest protein content in order. We’ll start with the mushrooms that have the highest protein content on top and work downwards from there.

a pile of high protein button mushrooms

1. Oyster Mushrooms (3g of Protein per Cup)

Oyster mushrooms, which come in at least 40 different varieties, have the highest protein content among common edible mushrooms. These mushrooms typically have shells that resemble oysters (no surprises there!) and are generally found in colours ranging from light grey or grey-brown to tan. They’re especially popular cooked as all of their parts blend well with all types of cuisines.

Oyster mushrooms pack in about 3g of protein per cup.

2. White Button Mushrooms (3g of Protein per Cup)

White button mushrooms are also known as table mushrooms which is a good indication of how common they are in homes and restaurants around the world. When they’re fully grown, they’re known as Portobello mushrooms.

Fresh white button mushrooms only last for as long as 3 to 4 days. So you can also find them preserved in other forms such as frozen or canned. They have a mild flavour which makes them a great choice for a variety of cooking methods including grilling and saucing.

1 cup of white button mushrooms serves up 3g of protein.

3. Shiitake Mushrooms (2.3g of Protein per Cup cooked)

Shiitake mushrooms are one of the most commonly eaten mushrooms in the world due to their delicious meaty texture and flavour. These popular mushrooms are usually found in China and Japan.

Shiitake mushrooms have one the largest amounts of naturally occurring copper which is great for promoting healthy blood vessels, bone health, and a healthy immune system. Just ½ cup of Shiitake mushrooms will give you a whopping 72% of your daily recommended intake of copper.

It’s a good idea to cook Shiitake mushrooms before consuming them because they have an ingredient called lentinan which can cause skin rashes or dermatitis in some people.

1 cup of cooked Shiitake mushrooms provides 2.3g of protein.

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4. Morel Mushrooms (1.9g of Protein per Cup)

Morel mushrooms, or Morchella as they’re also called, have a very distinctive appearance. The long mushroom caps look like elongated honeycombs with deep ridges spread all across their surface. They’re usually harvested directly from the wild so typically you can’t grow these at home. They also cost more than more common mushrooms like oyster, portobello, and white button mushrooms because of their rarity.

Expect to get about 1.9g of protein from 1 cup of Morel mushrooms.

5. Enoki Mushrooms (1.7g Protein per Cup)

The scientific name for enoki mushrooms makes for a good tongue-twister party game. How many times can you say Flammulina filiformis without bungling up in 1 minute? Try it! Your time starts now.

Jokes aside, the scientific name also holds a clue to this mushroom’s appearance in nature. They look like white (ish) filaments bunched up together with small mushroom caps. They’re also known variously as winter mushrooms, velvet shank, enokitake, or golden needle mushrooms. They’re known for being delicious as well as nutritious.

Enoki mushrooms serve up 1.7g worth of protein per cup.

6. Maitake Mushrooms (1.4g of Protein per Cup)

One of the interesting facts about mushrooms is they can be easily identified by their popular names. Such is the case with the Maitake mushroom, the word maitake meaning “hen-of-the-wood.” The mushrooms, from a distance, resemble hens with their feathers outstretched. Incidentally, in Japan, they’re known as “dancing mushrooms”, because, we’re delightfully told by people in the know, they inspired a happy dance when they were discovered.

Maitake mushrooms contain about 1.4g of protein per cup.

7. Chanterelle Mushrooms (0.8g of Protein per Cup)

Somewhat similar to oyster mushrooms in shape but not quite, Chanterelle mushrooms are some of the most popularly cultivated edible wild mushrooms. They range in colour from white to pretty-looking shades of yellow and orange. Use chanterelle mushrooms in your soups, pasta dishes, and risotto. Alternatively, grill them in a frying pan with some olive oil, white wine, and some salt and pepper for a delicious side.

Chanterelle mushrooms provide 0.8g of protein per cup.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do mushrooms have protein?

Mushrooms are a good source of protein, although the quantity is lower compared to meat and other sources. The protein found in mushrooms, also known as mycoprotein, is of high quality and easily digestible, making it an excellent protein source for vegetarians and vegans.

Apart from protein, mushrooms also contain vital nutrients like vitamin D, minerals such as selenium, and fibre. Adding mushrooms to your diet can provide a significant amount of nutrition, especially for those looking to reduce their intake of animal products and maintain a balanced diet.

Are mushrooms a good source of protein?

Mushrooms are a rich source of various nutrients like fibre, antioxidants, and protein. However, they cannot be relied on as the sole source of protein as they only provide 2.2g of protein per cup serving. Ideally, you want to vary your protein sources so you’re getting as much protein as you need daily which, as a standard guideline, is 0.8g of protein per kilogram of body weight.

The daily requirement can vary depending on how old you are, how much activity you get through in a day, and whether you have any medical conditions which require special dietary management.

Even though they’re not the most protein-rich source, they do provide several health benefits when consumed as part of a balanced diet.

Can mushrooms replace meat protein?

Unless you’re eating kilos of mushrooms daily (which is not recommended because some mushrooms can be toxic to the body in large quantities), mushrooms can scarcely replace meat as a viable source of protein. 1 cup of mushrooms, depending on the variety, may provide 2.2g. Contrast this with 100g of chicken breast which provides 31g of protein, or shelled edamame soybeans providing 18g of protein per cup.

Are cooked mushrooms high in protein?

According to research, protein preservation can depend on how you’re cooking the mushrooms. Frying and boiling can severely reduce the amount of proteins and other nutrients present in mushrooms. Opt to microwave or grill your mushrooms, in which case, there isn’t as much of a significant decrease in nutritional content.

What are the best vegetarian alternatives to mushroom protein?

Beans, lentils, shelled Edamame soybeans, green peas, tofu, tempeh, varieties of grains, dairy (cheese, milk, yoghurt), nuts, and seeds are all good vegetarian alternatives to mushroom proteins.

What nutrient is mushroom high in?

Mushrooms are a great source of essential vitamins and minerals. A cup of sliced mushrooms provides 21% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin D, which is attributed to their ability to produce the vitamin when exposed to UV light. They also contain B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin) and minerals like selenium and potassium. Adding mushrooms to your diet can support healthy bones and immune function while boosting overall nutrition.

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Final Thoughts

Protein is a vital component of a healthy and balanced diet, but it's important to note that there are numerous non-meat and non-dairy sources available. High-protein mushrooms should not be overlooked, as they offer essential nutrients like fibre, antioxidants, and, of course, protein.

To maximize the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, try incorporating a variety of mushrooms such as shiitake, portobello, or oyster mushrooms into your meals.

Ultimately, it's important to find a balanced diet that works best for you and your nutritional needs. Bon appétit!

Darcy Ogdon-Nolan

Holding a Bachelor Of Science (Hons.) combined with close to a decade now in the health food and wellness industry, I believe I'm uniquely positioned to provide a depth of knowledge and first-hand experience on emerging health products, trends and ideas! From greens powders and medicinal mushrooms through to protein powders and workout nutrition - I'm particularly interested in what modern science can uncover about what human cultures have been using to treat ailments for millennia!

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