Is the Mushroom a Vegetable?

Mushrooms have been a part of the human diet for many, many years but one question always remains: is the mushroom a vegetable? You’ve probably heard before that mushrooms are fungi, but does that mean it’s not a vegetable? Or is it both? To clear this up, we reached out to Alice Henneman, MS, RD, Extension Educator of Nutrition, Food Safety, and Cooking at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Alice tells us that mushrooms are technically considered fungi. Because they have no leaves, roots or seeds and don’t need light to grow, they are not a true vegetable.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture does classify mushrooms as vegetables because they provide many of the nutritional attributes of vegetables. According to this study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, mushrooms provide nutrients that bridge across core food groups. Nutrients that can be found in produce, meat and grains can also be found in mushrooms, and they are a good source of niacin, pantothenic acid, selenium and copper providing at least 10%-19% of the daily value, and an excellent source of riboflavin providing almost 20% of the daily value. Mushrooms are also a source of potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin D and calcium, four nutrients considered underconsumed by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

This is great news for all mushroom lovers out there!

Image: “Mushrooms” by Martin Cathrae is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.