Experimenting with your food is an easy way to find your next favorite dish. We all know that eating raw veggies is very good for you, so what about eating raw mushrooms?
Now we’re sure this isn’t the first vegetable that comes to mind when you think about eating raw things. But can you actually eat raw mushrooms? And which types of mushrooms are safe to eat raw?
Today we’re going to cover everything you need to know about eating raw mushrooms, as well as which varieties are the best types of mushrooms to try.
In order to know which are the best mushrooms to eat raw, we will need to understand more about the humble mushroom itself. What kind of nutritional profile are you going to get from a raw mushroom?
What Does A Mushroom Consist Of?
So before we get stuck into whether you can eat mushrooms raw, let’s take a closer look at the humble white mushroom. This is the variety that you are most likely to find in your local grocery store.
It typically comes in several different varieties, most notably button, champignons, small Portobello, and table mushrooms.
Some of their close cousins, the brown capped mushrooms such as chestnut mushrooms have a very similar nutritional profile to white mushrooms.
In your average 100g worth of white mushrooms, you will find around 92.45g water, 1g dietary fiber, 3.09g protein, 3.26g carbs, and 0.34g fat. So at first glance, there’s nothing that could possibly cause you any harm if you were to eat a raw mushroom.
However, the thing that gives most people pause is the presence of agaritine. This is a naturally occurring chemical compound that has been noted by scientists to make mice more likely to contract cancer in certain studies.
It does this by playing with the animals’ DNA structure.
On the other hand, some of these studies featured mice that were fed water that had been spiked with agaritine, and these animals didn’t contract cancer.
So it’s not exactly black and white in terms of whether this chemical compound would actually be able to alter your DNA in this way.
But what exactly does this have to do with raw mushrooms?
That’s because agaritine is found in fresh, raw mushrooms. The level of agaritine in mushrooms tends to drop significantly when the vegetable is cooked properly. It also depletes if the mushrooms are stored correctly in a refrigerator.
As long as you opt for a pack of mushrooms from your local grocery store that have been stored properly, you shouldn’t have to worry about this compound.
If you have grown your own mushrooms and have only just picked them, they will naturally have a higher concentration of this compound.
So can you actually eat raw mushrooms?
Is It Safe To Eat Raw Mushrooms?
The bottom line is that if you were to eat your standard white mushrooms that you can easily find in the grocery store, they will be perfectly fine to eat.
However, you will need to bear in mind that the texture and flavor will differ from the mushrooms that you are used to.
So just because you can technically eat them, does that make it safe to eat raw mushrooms?
It will all come down to how much you want to risk exposing yourself to the agaritine compound. If you don’t want to risk eating too much of this, you will be better off cooking your mushrooms first.
You will also need to consider which type of mushrooms are actually safe to eat raw. But we shall cover that topic in more detail down below.
Cooked Mushrooms vs Raw Mushrooms
The main question you should be asking yourself is why would you want to eat raw mushrooms? This vegetable is so much tastier once it has been cooked properly.
This is because the flavor of the mushrooms themselves becomes more potent. The texture becomes a lot easier to eat, too, with the cooked mushrooms being much softer to eat.
Raw mushrooms have a very different texture and flavor profile if you were to try and eat them without cooking them. They will be much more enjoyable to eat once they have been cooked properly.
What Types Of Mushrooms Can You Safely Eat Raw?
Mushrooms can be a finicky beast even when cooked properly. This is because you will need to ensure that you have opted for a mushroom variety that is safe to consume.
So the same rules will apply when choosing a type of mushroom to eat raw. You will want to ensure that you are eating a mushroom that isn’t going to poison you.
So which mushrooms can you eat raw?
The vast majority of mushroom varieties that you can find at your local grocery store will be perfectly safe to eat raw. It’s worth noting that some of the tougher varieties such as oyster mushrooms will need to be softened by cooking before they can be eaten.
Other types of white and brown capped mushrooms are fine to eat raw. However, you should make sure that you wash them thoroughly before you do so.
Even in the grocery store, these mushrooms can still have a small amount of dirt on them. But do bear in mind that these varieties will have larger amounts of the agaritine compound.
Remember that these raw mushrooms will have a much different texture to their cooked counterparts.
Which Is Healthier: Raw Mushrooms Or Cooked Mushrooms?
What about in terms of health? Raw vegetables are known to be very good for you in certain contexts, so surely raw mushrooms are better for you than cooked mushrooms, right?
Perhaps surprisingly, cooked mushrooms are thought to actually be healthier for you.
This is because mushrooms tend to have very durable cell walls. These keep the nutrients locked in, even if you were to eat them raw.
So by cooking your mushrooms, this helps to soften these cell walls, which will then help your body to better absorb the nutrients from your cooked mushrooms.
You will still get some level of nutrients from eating raw mushrooms. However, this will be noticeably less than if you were to eat cooked mushrooms.
Why Cooking Your Mushrooms Is Important
Even though you may be tempted to eat raw mushrooms, it will always be better to cook them properly before you consume them. This is because there could still be a range of bacteria roaming around on your mushrooms.
The whole point of cooking your mushrooms is to kill off this bacteria so that it can’t harm you.
Not to mention that cooking your mushrooms will reduce the amount of agaritine compound that is present in them even more! Plus cooked mushrooms will taste so much better than their raw counterparts.
So there you have it! Even though yes, you technically can eat raw mushrooms, it doesn’t mean that you should. This is because of several reasons.
Even though there are no toxic compounds in mushrooms which can kill you, there is a chemical compound known as agaritine. Some scientific studies have found that this compound can cause mice to develop cancer over time.
This compound tends to reduce once the mushrooms have been refrigerated and cooked properly.
Not to mention that mushrooms will taste so much better if you were to cook them! Raw mushrooms have a much more different flavor and texture profile than their cooked variants, and this isn’t entirely pleasant if you’re not used to it.
It will be much better to cook your mushrooms properly before you eat them.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Happens If You Eat Uncooked Mushrooms?
This will of course depend on the mushroom variety that you are eating. If you are choosing to eat a white mushroom that you’ve bought from the grocery store, this likely won’t cause you any harm.
However, you should be aware that mushrooms have a compound in them called agaritine, which has been shown to cause cancer in mice in certain scientific studies. Uncooked mushrooms will also taste a lot different from their cooked counterparts.
Can You Get Sick From Raw Mushrooms?
You are unlikely to get sick from eating raw mushrooms. However, you will need to bear in mind that cooking your mushrooms will remove any bacteria that could be lurking on them.
If you were to eat raw mushrooms without washing them, too, this could cause you to upset your digestive system.
Are Mushrooms Healthier Raw Or Cooked?
Cooked mushrooms are much healthier than raw mushrooms. This is because the act of cooking your mushrooms helps to break down the tough cell walls of the mushroom, which helps you to better absorb the nutrients from the vegetable.
What Kind Of Mushrooms Can You Eat Raw?
The vast majority of mushrooms that you can find in your local store are perfectly safe to eat raw. These include white mushrooms, brown capped mushrooms, portobellos, and enokis.
However, you should bear in mind that some of these mushrooms are on the tougher side, which is typically why they tend to be cooked first before being consumed.
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