Can Mushrooms Be Eaten Raw? A Scientific Look
Whether it’s just for convenience or if you prefer the taste, you might be considering eating raw mushrooms. Many restaurants offer up salads that have raw mushrooms in them so you’d think it’s okay. I think the following question is worth looking into, can mushrooms be eaten raw?
Most button mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms and white mushrooms are all relatively safe to eat raw. In fact, you can discover them being served raw in many salads and in some of the most formal restaurants.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the most important factors you should actually consider when eating raw mushrooms. So, for everything you need to know about eating raw mushrooms, I recommend you keep reading.
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Are Mushrooms Healthier Raw Or Cooked?
We’ve established some mushrooms can be eaten raw or cooked 1. It’s important to take a look at which of these two options is healthier for you.
That’s exactly what we’re going to take a look at in the section. Quick spoiler, the answer can be conflicting.
Cooked mushrooms are healthier. Mushrooms have anti-cancer properties. When you cook the mushrooms, these nutrients become more absorbable for the body. However, because they lose a large amount of water mass when cooked, they also lose some of those nutrients so you need to consume more.
Why Is This A Conflicting Answer?
It’s a conflicting answer because when the mushrooms are cooked or raw they should contain a similar amount of nutrients right? Well, many nutrients are lost when you cook the mushroom.
There’s one very important fact as to why raw mushrooms are not as good for you compared to when they are cooked.
Almost everything that lives or grows contains cells. It is within these cells that most of the nutrients are stored.
A raw mushroom has very tough walls that protect the cell and these walls make the nutrients within a mushroom very hard to digest. Basically, the nutrients within a raw mushroom are harder to absorb 2
Benefits Of Eating Mushrooms: Raw Or Cooked
Let’s take a brief look at some of the benefits 3 of eating mushrooms whether they are raw or cooked. So, let’s jump into it.
- Mushrooms contain a wealth of antioxidants.
- Related to the antioxidants, mushrooms have properties that help fight cancer.
- Mushrooms contain vitamins and potassium. These are essential and they are all aimed at keeping your body healthy 4.
How about mushrooms turned slimy? You may want to read my blog post on the topic by clicking here, Are Slimy Mushrooms Bad?
Side Effects Of Eating Raw Mushrooms
In this article, we have taken a look at the benefits of cooking mushrooms vs eating them raw. In this section, we’re going to take a look at some of the negative side effects of eating raw mushrooms.
- Toxins: These toxins are more prevalent when a mushroom is uncooked. They can affect your immune system amongst other serious negative side effects.
- Bacteria and Pathogens: The bacteria can affect your digestive system and/or lead to food poisoning.
Not all mushrooms will have these negative effects, but you should always weigh up these effects if you are considering eating a raw mushroom.
Can Raw Mushrooms Kill You?
Not all mushrooms are the same. In this section, we’ll build-up to the following one where we’ll discuss what mushrooms you should never eat raw 5. First, let’s answer this specific question, can mushrooms kill you?
Some mushrooms contain very poisonous toxins to human beings. It’s important to check what mushroom you have and whether or not it’s safe to eat raw. Some mushrooms can kill you if eaten raw and some can kill you if consumed at all, raw or cooked.
Mushroom Fun Fact: Mushrooms made the Environmental Working Group’s Clean Fifteen List for 2020 6.
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Never Eat Wild Mushrooms Raw Or Cooked
It’s important to note you should never eat mushrooms found in the wild unless you’re an expert in the field. Many mushrooms look similar to each other. Therefore, you might mistake a mushroom perceived to be safe to eat for a poisonous one.
Unfortunately, this can lead to some serious negative side effects.
The side effects can be subtle and in some cases, they can be fatal. So, please be careful.
If you’re not a professional, there’s no reason anyone should try eating a wild mushroom. With that being said, in the unlikely instance you’re stranded and come across them, still don’t pick them.
Can You Eat Raw Mushrooms When Pregnant?
I get many questions from pregnant women about certain foods and raw mushrooms are one of them. There are a few things you should know, and we’ll take a look at them right now. So, if you or someone you know is pregnant, keep reading.
While certain mushrooms are safe to eat during pregnancy, it is not recommended. As we have discussed earlier, most of the nutrients that mushrooms contain will have very little benefit when raw. You do risk certain toxins and pathogens making their way into your body via a raw mushroom.
Disclaimer: This is general advice and may not pertain to your particular situation. Always check with your doctor and be guided by their advice.
Does Cooking Raw Mushrooms Kill Bacteria?
It has been thousands of years since human beings discovered cooking food is the best way to eat. This means our bodies have adapted to eat cooked food rather than raw food. This isn’t very true when it comes to vegetables, or at least, most vegetables.
Cooking food has a multitude of benefits, let’s take a look.
Mushrooms and most other vegetables do have bacteria on them. This includes potential pathogens that find their way onto the product. When you cook food, it removes much of the bacteria and pathogens.
It’s important to cook your food when you can. It’s what our bodies have adapted to.
Does Cooking A Mushroom Get Rid Of Toxins?
In the section, we’re going to take a look at whether or not cooking mushrooms gets rid of the toxins. In addition, we’re going to discuss what the main toxins are mushrooms carry. This section is very important, so, let’s jump straight into it.
The toxins that are contained within mushrooms don’t agree with heat. So the minute the mushroom is warmed up, the toxins die off.
Mushrooms contain Formaldehyde and Hydrazine. Both of these toxic compounds are killed as soon as they are exposed to some form of fire or heat.
This is probably the most important reason as to why mushrooms should be cooked.
If you intend on eating raw mushrooms for health reasons, you might actually be getting fewer nutrients than if you were to cook the mushroom.
If you just like the flavor of raw mushrooms, it is recommended you first clean the mushroom thoroughly 7. If you are pregnant, raw mushrooms can still be safe but it is unrecommended but you should always check with your physician first. You want to avoid any toxins as best as you can.
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- The Mushroom Council: Fresh Mushrooms: Recipes[↩]
- Alliance for natural health: Are Supermarket Mushrooms Dangerous to Eat Raw?[↩]
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Edible Mushrooms: Improving Human Health and Promoting Quality Life[↩]
- USDA: Mushrooms[↩]
- The Mushroom Council: FAQ[↩]
- EWG: EWG’s 2020 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce[↩]
- FDA: Selecting and Serving Produce Safely[↩]