More Health and Nutrition Bites

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Too much coffee might be bad - for some 01/11/23
Stay hydrated 01/04/23
Lower risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes with a Mediterranean diet 12/28/22
Stay sharp with flavonols 12/14/22
Salting at the table 12/07/22
On time - and Velveeta 11/30/22
Cut calories vs. cut protein intake: the results will surprise you 11/16/22
Mediterranean Diet Improves Symptoms of Depression in Young Men 11/09/22
Weight and vision 10/26/22
When you eat might matter more than previously thought 10/19/22
All Health and Nutrition Bites


Calcium & Vitamin D Supplements: The Risk/Benefit Ratio
Not long ago I got an email from a Dr. Gourmet reader who was frustrated by some of my answers to Ask Dr. Gourmet questions. For example, the question about whether drinking diet soda is linked to obesity. There isn't a lot of evidence, and it certainly doesn't show that drinking diet soda will cause obesity, but it doesn't look like drinking soda of any kind is all that great an idea, especially when coffee, tea and water is definitely great for you.

Speaking of Vitamin D....
Interestingly, in this week's Archives of Internal Medicine (2007;167(11):1159-1165) there's a different look at the effects of inadequate vitamin D. Previous studies have suggested a link between low levels of vitamin D and the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes. In this study, the researchers looked at data from a large-scale study known as the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which was conducted between 1988 and 1994.

Fruits and vegetables are good for your heart
Several years ago I reported on a study that looked at the effects of eating fruits and vegetables that are high in Vitamin C on the markers of inflammation in the blood that signal an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and other conditions. As I noted at the time, drawing the conclusion that because Vitamin C reduced inflammation, it would then reduce the risk of stroke or heart disease is a bit of a "leap of faith" (remember that in medicine A=B and B=C does not mean A=C).


Health & Nutrition Bites

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Mushrooms vs. Meat

several white mushrooms

I love mushrooms. With only about 15 calories per cup, they're a good source of fiber and are also a good source of Vitamin D, selenium, and folate (especially important for women of child-bearing age). The best part? They're cheaper than the same amount of beef (for an upcoming recipe I paid $1.50 for 4 ounces of crimini mushrooms and $1.99 for the same amount of 90% lean ground beef) with just as much umami flavor.

The James Beard Foundation is capitalizing on the umami flavor and cheaper price of mushrooms by sponsoring a competition, The Blended Burger Project, challenging chefs to create burgers made with a combination of ground meat and mushrooms. Their point is that those burgers made with mushrooms and meat are just as tasty as those of meat alone, but are cheaper and better for you.

A team of researchers at the University of Minnesota, with funding from the Mushroom Council, compared the effects of eating mushrooms or beef on folks' feelings of satiety and their overall caloric intake (Appetite 2017;117:179-185).

Thirty-two men and women completed the study, in which they were randomly assigned to be supplied with either sliced mushrooms or 93% lean ground beef to consume twice per day. After the first ten days of the study, the participants returned to their regular diet for at least two weeks and then switched menus for ten days, with those first consuming mushrooms switching to beef and those initially assigned to beef switching to mushrooms.

While the beef was provided in ground form and pre-cooked, the (white button) mushrooms were provided raw and pre-sliced, with suggestions for ways to cook them. The amount of beef or mushrooms provided to the participants was roughly equal in terms of protein and number of calories, but because the mushrooms are of lower calorie density than the beef, the volume of mushrooms provided per serving was much greater (about 226 grams per serving of mushrooms versus 28 grams of beef).

On the first day of each arm of the study, the participants visited the lab at breakfast and were given a breakfast sandwich (English muffin, egg, cheese, and the same number of calories of either mushrooms or beef). Three hours later they were provided with a pizza lunch of which they were invited to eat as much as they wanted. On the first day, as well as on two separate subsequent days of the study, the participants kept detailed dietary records so that the authors could compare each day's overall intake of calories, protein, fiber, etc.

The authors found that those who consumed a breakfast sandwich including mushrooms instead of meat reported that they were significantly less hungry, felt fuller, and thought they would eat less at lunch than those whose breakfast sandwiches included beef. That said, while those who had beef with their breakfast sandwich did eat more at lunch than those who had mushrooms in their sandwich, the difference was not considered statistically significant.

The overall effects of consuming mushrooms as opposed to beef might be considered similarly disappointing: regardless of whether they were assigned to consuming mushrooms or beef, people tended to consume about the same number of calories, fat, protein, fiber, or carbohydrates.

What this means for you

I actually see this as a positive result. When people first consider following a Mediterranean-style diet, some balk at the idea of cutting back on their meat intake. (Remember that a Mediterranean diet is not NO meat, but LESS meat and LEANER meats.) This article is in line with other research that suggests that mushrooms are a good and equally satisfying substitute for meat - not to mention cheaper!

Here are a few recipes where mushrooms enhance or replace the beef in a dish. They're fantastic!

Mushroom Cheddarburgers
Quickie Mushroom Beef Stew
Beef & Mushroom Lasagna
Mushroom Chili
Mushroom-Spinach Fried Rice

First posted: September 20, 2017