Some people recommend avoiding eating raw mushrooms as they may contain a toxin called agaritine.
This naturally-occurring toxin is deactivated by heat so many people suggest cooking mushrooms before consuming them.
However, it has been suggested that agaritine is also broken down when refrigerated, dried, or even just stored.
Even if you consume them straight from the supermarket, they’ll have been refrigerated or stored in cool and dry conditions and are safe to eat raw.
You should never eat mushrooms picked from the wild as it can be very difficult to work out if they’re poisonous or not.
Another reason some recommend not eating mushrooms raw is because of the chitin contained in the mushroom cell walls.
This chitin can cause digestive distress for some, especially those with a previous record of digestive issues.
If this is the case, you may want to stay on the safer side and consume them cooked.
Some also suggest that cooking mushrooms help to release the nutrients in the mushrooms making them more bioavailable to the body.
Are raw white mushrooms good for you?
Like most mushrooms, white mushrooms are low in calories but contain tons of nutrients.
Mushroom exposure to sunlight makes them a great natural, plant-based source of vitamin D2.
The body then turns this D2 into vitamin D, which is important for overall health.
Being deficient in vitamin D can cause fatigue and bone issues.
White mushrooms are also a good source of vitamin B12, this vitamin is often found in meat sources so consuming mushrooms make it a good substitute for those eating a plant-based diet.
Mushrooms also contain a decent amount of protein making another important food especially for those on a plant-based diet.
White mushrooms contain antioxidants, which aid the body in fighting oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress can lead to various diseases such as heart disease.
White mushrooms also contain vitamin C and selenium which help enhance your body’s immune system.
The beta-glucan found in white mushrooms is a soluble fiber that can help lower blood cholesterol levels.
It does this as it can form a gel type of substance which then prevents cholesterol from being absorbed by trapping them,
Are white mushrooms healthier raw or cooked?
When white mushrooms are cooked, they lose water and shrink in size.
Technically, cooked mushrooms have less protein and nutrients than raw mushrooms.
However, because they’re much smaller you’re more likely to consume more.
When mushrooms are cooked, they can lose up to half of their nutrients, especially the water-soluble vitamins.
If you were to compare a cup of cooked mushrooms to raw mushrooms, there’d be double the amount of cooked mushrooms.
So, it may be best to compare the number of cooked and raw mushrooms.
Six, raw white mushrooms have 24 calories and 1.1 g of fiber, and when cooked this calorie content is actually reduced to 20 and the fiber increases 1.6 g.
The same amount of mushrooms has 3.3 g of protein, raw, and when cooked they lose around half of this and have only 1.5 g of protein.
The vitamin C content actually increases when cooked however most of the other vitamins present do decrease when cooked such as vitamin D, which is halved when cooked.
Boiling mushrooms reduce the amount of magnesium, potassium, sodium, and phosphorus however other minerals such as calcium, iron, and zinc actually increase.
Overall, nutritionally raw mushrooms have a better nutritional profile compared to cooked mushrooms however this can vary as vitamin C and some minerals increase when cooked whereas protein and vitamin D decreases by about half.
It can also be difficult to digest and consume a decent amount of raw mushrooms as the chitin contained in mushroom cell walls can cause digestive distress.
Raw mushrooms are more difficult to chew when compared to cooked mushrooms so it’s usually much easier to consume them cooked.
One reason many choose cooked mushrooms over raw is that the cooking process helps to kill off any bacteria or spores.
Eating them raw could leave you open to risk however this is not highly likely and as long as you get them from a good source, and store them well, you should be safe to eat them raw.
Is it OK to eat raw mushrooms in a salad?
Some people suggest not eating raw mushrooms because of a naturally occurring toxin called agaritine.
Studies on mice suggested that agaritine is carcinogenic however other studies on mice where they were fed agaritine-laced water, caused no issues.
This means that there are some mixed opinions around whether or not raw mushrooms can be consumed.
While this toxin is certainly present in mushrooms, it’s only really present in high amounts when mushrooms are freshly-picked.
When mushrooms are stored or refrigerated, the agaritine levels are significantly reduced.
Unless you plan to go foraging, you’ll certainly be safe.
Cooking mushrooms has often been suggested as the only method to reduce the agaritine levels however because just storing or refrigerating raw mushrooms decreases levels, you can consume raw mushrooms.
As long as your mushrooms are bought from the supermarket, you eat them at any time and in any form.
If you are growing your own, you want to be much more careful and place them in the fridge or cook before consuming.
When consuming mushrooms in a salad, it makes more sense texture and flavor-wise to eat them raw as you might find cooked mushrooms to ruin the texture and temperature of the salad.
Raw mushrooms are tougher in texture and stronger in flavor when eaten raw, so this is something to bear in mind, especially if you’ve only ever consumed cooked mushrooms.
Some mushrooms such as oyster mushrooms are quite tough and need to be cooked to be consumed easily.
Reishi mushrooms are also very tough and need to be cooked before eating.
White mushrooms are fine to be eaten raw although you should ensure that you have washed them very well.
I’m Chris Watson & the Founder of EatForLonger.com. I’m a food and wellbeing enthusiast researching and sharing foodstuffs and simple food-based concepts, such as fasting and clean eating.
I hope it inspires you to make tiny changes to what you eat and when you eat while optimizing your healthspan and all-around well-being.
Read more About Me here.