Pregnant women may often ask this question to their healthcare providers, “Can I eat mushrooms while pregnant?” Mushrooms can be made into delicious and nutritious dishes and added to several preparations such as soups, salads, and pizzas. However, you may be doubtful about the safety of eating mushrooms during pregnancy. Freshly picked mushrooms are protein-rich and low in calories. But you should identify the right ones to avoid the risk of toxicity. This post tells you about the health benefits of eating mushrooms when pregnant, possible risks, the types safe for consumption, and the ones you should avoid.
Can Pregnant Women Eat Mushrooms?
Yes, it is safe to consume mushrooms during pregnancy, but avoid raw mushrooms as they are carcinogenic.
Also, not all mushrooms are edible, and it is important to know the difference.
Cooked or dried mushrooms are good as they are highly nutritious and are rich in vitamins, minerals and trace elements (1).
What Are The Benefits Of Eating Mushrooms During Pregnancy?
Mushrooms offer excellent nutrition for your growing baby. Including them in your regular diet helps you share the benefits with the baby in the womb.
1. Abundant vitamin B
Mushrooms are natural sources of B complex vitamins including thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3) and pantothenic acid (B5) (2), which are beneficial for the mom-to-be and the baby.
- Thiamine and niacin aid in brain development of the baby, relieve fatigue and boost energy.
- Riboflavin aids in keeping the skin healthy, improving eyesight and developing strong bones, muscles, and nerves.
- Pantothenic acid prevents digestion issues (3).
2. Vitamin D promotes healthy bones
Vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy can cause tiredness, back pain, bone weakness, and depression. Adding mushrooms to your diet can give you abundant vitamin D (4). It helps absorb calcium in the body, to form strong bones and teeth in the baby (5).
According to Tara Bassi, a licensed nutritionist, clinical herbalist, educator, and researcher from the Greater Tampa Bay Area, “Most grocery store mushrooms are grown in dark environments with no exposure to natural sunlight or ultraviolet (UV) light. If you choose to eat wild mushrooms or know where they are grown, they are more likely to be exposed to natural sunlight or UV light which will increase their vitamin D content.”
3. Protein and fiber
Protein and fiber are present abundantly in mushrooms.
- Protein is necessary for the overall development of your baby, as it contributes to the muscle mass (6).
- Fiber helps prevent irritable conditions such as constipation and fatigue, keeping you active and ready for a smooth delivery (7).
4. Iron promotes hemoglobin levels
Your body requires more hemoglobin as the volume of the blood increases during pregnancy. Mushrooms are an excellent source of iron, which helps produce hemoglobin and red blood cells in both the mother and the fetus (8).
5. Antioxidants boost the immune system
Antioxidants (selenium and ergothioneine) present in mushrooms boost the immune system (9) and keep you disease-free and healthy during pregnancy. Mushrooms also contain zinc, potassium, and selenium, which assist the baby’s growth and development.
Nutritional Value Of Mushrooms
The nutrient value of raw, white mushrooms (per 100gm serving) is as follows (10):
To benefit from the high nutrient value of mushrooms, you should be able to differentiate between edible and poisonous mushrooms. Read next about the type of mushrooms that you can eat.
What Type Of Mushrooms Can You Eat?
Blanca Garcia, a registered dietitian nutritionist from Los Angeles, California, says, “The safest mushrooms are shiitake, portobello, oyster, maitake, crimini, white button mushroom, and chestnut.”
Mushrooms that you can eat during pregnancy include:
1. White button mushrooms are a common variety found everywhere (11). You can recognize them by their pale white shoot with a spotted top. The top is flavorful and can be used to make delicious dishes. The shoot contains fiber, which is used in making broths and stews.
2. Shiitake mushrooms are black and possess a leafy texture, and popularly used in Chinese cuisine. Shiitake and maitake are medicinal mushrooms, which have high levels of beta-glucan, a polysaccharide sugar, and fiber. It is an anti-tumor, anti-cancer, antibacterial, anti-fungal and antioxidant substance (12).
- Shiitake (Lentinula edodes)
- Maitake (Hen-of-the-wood or Grifola Frondosa)
3. Porcini mushrooms (Boletus edulis) are golden in color and are highly flavorful. These are the most expensive mushrooms and are used in Italian cuisine.
4. True morel mushrooms (Morchella) are a wild variety but have an edible strain that comes with a hollow stem. Make sure that you clean and cook them properly as these mushrooms are likely to cause allergic reactions and gastrointestinal upset (13).
5. Chestnut mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) look like white button mushrooms but have a brown cap and pink to dark brown gills. They have a strong taste and look like a darker strain of button mushroom.
Other edible mushrooms you can eat during pregnancy include:
- King Oysters/ Eringi (Pleurotus eryngii)
- Enoki (Enokitake)
Giant puffball (Calvatia gigantea), dryad’s saddle, scarlet elf cups, wood ears, beefsteak fungus, cauliflower fungus, penny buns, field blewits and hedgehog fungus are edible mushrooms but are best avoided when you are pregnant.
Not all mushrooms are meant to be eaten. Some are used for medicinal purposes only while others are highly poisonous and must be avoided. Continue reading to know more about the mushrooms you should not eat.
Types Of Mushrooms To Avoid During Pregnancy
Certain mushrooms can lead to the death of both the mother and the baby and must be avoided.
2. Parasol mushrooms are umbrella-shaped, with milky gills, white rings, and some spots. They are brightly colored, and caps are cream colored (10).
3. False morels: They are wrinkled with irregularly shaped caps.
Other poisonous mushrooms you need to avoid are Puffballs Amanitas, Crimini, Chanterelle, Portable, Death Cap, Fly Agaric, Angel Wing, Conocybe Filaris, Deadly Webcap, Autumn Skullcap, Destroying Angels and Podostroma Conru-damae.
What Are The Risks Of Taking Toxic Mushrooms?
There are some potential side effects of taking the above mentioned poisonous mushrooms. Remember that these risks will not arise from healthy and edible mushrooms.
- Cause congenital abnormalities: Consumption of poisonous or toxic mushrooms can lead to physical birth defects in babies (14).
- Hallucinogenic: Some poisonous mushrooms possess a hallucinogenic property owing to their psilocybin content, which alters the brain activity (2).
Precautions To Follow When Eating Mushrooms When Pregnant
Here are a few tips on how to eat mushrooms and stay safe.
- Buy fresh mushrooms, which do not have decaying spots and bruises.
- In the case of processed mushrooms, check for the expiration date.
- Wash and cook properly. Never have raw mushrooms.
- If you want to check if the mushroom is causing any side effects, eat it in small amounts and look for a reaction. Avoid it if you experience any allergic reactions.
Next, we have the answers to some more questions about mushrooms during pregnancy.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I eat mushrooms in early pregnancy?
Yes, you can eat mushrooms in early pregnancy. Since they contain fiber, they help treat indigestion and constipation that are common in early pregnancy. The antioxidants (such as selenium and ergothioneine) in mushrooms fight free radicals and boost the immune system.
2. Does craving mushrooms during pregnancy indicate the gender of the baby?
No. The assumption that craving for mushrooms indicates the baby’s gender is just another old wives’ tale.
3. What are medicinal mushrooms?
“Medicinal mushrooms are chaga, turkey tail, lion’s mane, reish, and cordyceps. These may reduce cholesterol, possibly have anti-ulcer properties, and improve the immune system. However, these should be avoided during pregnancy, as there aren’t enough studies on their safety,” says Garcia.
4. Are psychedelic mushrooms illegal?
Bassi opines, “Psychedelic mushrooms are illegal in the US. However, the state of Oregon recently passed a bill that legalizes the personal use of psilocybin mushrooms and the use of psilocybin mushrooms as a form of therapy for the treatment of PTSD, severe depression, and substance use disorder.”
Having cooked or dried mushrooms during pregnancy is considered safe, but avoid consuming raw mushrooms as they might be carcinogenic. Mushrooms are a good source of vitamins, proteins, and fibers, which help develop strong bones in the fetus and maintain the body’s hemoglobin levels. You can safely consume button mushrooms, shitake mushrooms, or any other type of mushrooms mentioned in the list provided above. Further, while buying mushrooms, ensure they do not have decaying spots or bruises.
Infographic: What Type Of Mushrooms Can You Eat During Pregnancy
Now that you know the benefits of mushrooms for pregnant women, we suggest you keep the following infographic handy. Not all types of mushrooms can be consumed during pregnancy. So, referring to this infographic will help you choose the right one for your next grocery run. So read on, and don’t forget to save it.
- Guide to a healthy pregnancy.
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