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Chemical analysis of mushrooms shows their nutritional benefits

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- An analysis of previously uncharted chemical contents, mostly carbohydrates, in U.S.-consumed mushrooms shows that these fruity edible bodies of fungi could be tailored into dietary plans to help fill various nutritional needs.

Using modern analytic tools, scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that the six mushroom varieties tested -- in raw and cooked forms and at various harvest times and maturity levels -- are rich in total dietary fibers, including those associated with cholesterol-lowering (chitin) and healthy hearts (beta-glutan).

The findings appear online in advance of regular publication by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The same researchers last year reported in the same journal the carbohydrate profile of selected plum and prune products. The findings will become part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Nutrient Database.

"What we've reported in these papers are the complete carbohydrate profiles of these two lines of popular foods," said George C. Fahey Jr., a professor of nutritional sciences in the department of animal sciences at Illinois. "These profiles include the digestible carbohydrates, the starches and the fermentable fibers that reach the large bowel. This work was important to the two commodity organizations that funded this research, because they had little information on these components."

It was already known that mushrooms offer high-quality protein, vitamins, unsaturated fatty acids and fiber, but a precise carbohydrate breakdown had been elusive.

The mushrooms studied were white button, crimini and portabella, all of which represent different maturity levels of Agaricus bisporus, and maitake (Grifola frondosa), shiitake (Lentinus edodes) and enoki (Flammulina velutipes). The latter two mushrooms were analyzed only in their consumed cooked form.

"The maitakes and shiitakes tended to be very similar in their nutrient
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Contact: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor
jebarlow@uiuc.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
14-Feb-2005


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