In a recent study, obese individuals who ate white button mushrooms instead of red meat each day had lower body weights, BMIs, and calorie intakes than individuals who ate a standard diet.

The study, published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal, found that participants who consumed as little as one cup of mushrooms a day not only lost weight, but also maintained their weight loss.

"Encouraging adults to substitute edible mushrooms for red meat in three meals per week was found to be a useful strategy for enhancing weight loss and maintenance efforts among overweight/obese adults," the researchers said.

But is it achievable for most people?

Adding More Veggies to Your Diet

Mushrooms are actually a fairly impressive vegetable. They produce some vitamin D when exposed to UV rays, they may boost a person's immune system, and they're a rich source of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and vitamin B3 (niacin).

Whether you eat more mushrooms or other vegetables in place of meat, it's healthy to increase your veggie consumption, says Alison Massey, RD, of Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, MD. "Having a meatless meal can improve the overall quality of your diet and save money, too," she says. "But I'm not advocating an all-mushroom diet!"

While eating more vegetables can be a good way to reduce your caloric intake, it's important that you make smart substitutions for meat, says Lynn Tomilowicz, RD, of New York-Presbyterian/Columbia Medical Center in New York City. "Mushrooms are not equivalent to red meat in terms of protein and iron," she says. "A better choice than mushrooms would be beans."

Here, she suggests three plant-based proteins to try:

  • One cup of cooked beans provides around 15 grams of protein, and a sizable amount of iron, folate, magnesium, and potassium.
  • Lentils are also a good source of protein.
  • Hummus makes a great sandwich spread in place of mayonnaise, and is also a great dip for vegetables.

Beyond protein-rich picks, there are many ways to add more veggies to your diet. Here, a few ways to sneak the food group into your day:

  • Make a veggie relish. Chop roasted red bell peppers, drizzle with olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar, and use as a topping for veggie burgers or fish.
  • Stuff a baked potato. Use seasoned black beans, chopped tomato and onion, Greek yogurt, and a little grated cheddar cheese.
  • Fill a hollowed out tomato with tuna or chicken salad and enjoy it for lunch.

The bottom line? You can never have too many vegetables, Massey says. Vegetables of all kinds are good for you, so eat a rainbow of color, and make up your mind to try a new vegetable recipe each week!

Alison Massey, RD, reviewed this article.


Poddar, Kavita et al. "Positive effect of white button mushrooms when substituted for meat on body weight and composition changes during weight loss and weight maintenance - A one-year randomized clinical trial." April 2013. The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

"Eating meat substitutes may offer weight benefits." 24 April. 2013. SmartBrief.

"1 Cup per day of natural meat substitute results in weight loss." 24 April. 2013. EmaxHealth.