If you're lucky enough to find morels, you should know how beneficial these rare mushrooms are to your health. The honeycomb mushroom is not only a rich source of a number of essential vitamin and minerals, but research shows morels may also be beneficial to promoting a healthy liver and act as a source of antioxidants.
Low-Calorie Nutrition Basics
Like other veggies, morel mushrooms add very few calories to your diet. Two mushrooms contain only 8 calories. The mushroom is also low in carbs and fat-free, but not a significant source of protein. Two raw mushrooms contain 1.3 grams of carb and 0.8 gram of protein. Most of the carbohydrates in the mushroom come from its fiber content, which is 0.7 gram per two raw morels.
If you're concerned about not getting enough iron in your diet, morel mushrooms may be your answer. Two of these mushrooms, each weighing in at 12.9 grams uncooked, contain 3 milligrams of iron, meeting 17 percent of the daily value.
Morels are a plant source of iron, and your body may not be able to absorb as much as it would from an animal source. Include a vitamin C-rich food, such as broccoli or potatoes, when you eat your morel mushrooms to improve iron absorption.
Rare Source of Vitamin D
Not many foods contain vitamin D, which means some people have a hard time meeting their daily needs, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. But because morel mushrooms are grown outside in the sunlight, they are able to manufacture their own vitamin D and are a source of the fat-soluble vitamin. Two uncooked mushrooms contain 54 international units of vitamin D, meeting 14 percent of the daily value.
Not getting enough vitamin D in your diet increases your risk of developing brittle bones.
Good for Your Liver
Morel mushrooms may be good for your liver. A study published in 2013 in Experimental and Toxicologic Pathology tested a morel mushroom extract on liver function in animals with alcohol-induced liver toxicity. The study found that the morel mushroom extract restored liver antioxidants and improved liver enzymes in the animals with the toxic livers. While this study certainly shows promise for morel mushrooms, human studies with the whole mushroom may be necessary before claims can be made.
As a fungus, morel mushrooms contain a substance called mycelia, which may be an effective antioxidant. A study published in 2010 in Pharmaceutical Biology found that the mycelia in the morel acted as a free radical scavenger and may be as effective at protecting your body from damage as other antioxidants. This study used a morel extract, which may be a more concentrated form of the antioxidant. But, when part of an overall healthy diet, including nutrient-rich foods like the morel mushroom may offer more benefits than any extract.
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Mushrooms, Morels, Raw
- Experimental and Toxicologic Pathology: Hepatoprotective Activity of Cultured Mycelium of Morel Mushroom, Morchella Esculenta
- Pharmaceutical Biology: Evaluation of Free Radical Scavenging Activity of Morel Mushroom, Morchella Esculenta Mycelia: A Potential Source of Therapeutically Useful Antioxidants
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Iron
- MedlinePlus: Vitamin C
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin D
- Harvard School of Public Health: Antioxidants: Beyond the Hype
- Photo Credit S847/iStock/Getty Images
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