Are Mushrooms Good for People with Diabetes?
Given that diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar levels, following a healthy diet that helps manage blood sugar is essential to treatment .
However, that can be easier said than done, and people with diabetes may find it difficult to decide which foods to eat and avoid.
Mushrooms are low in carbs and sugar and considered to have anti-diabetic properties.
This article explains why mushrooms are an excellent choice if you have diabetes.
There are many types of mushrooms, including the traditional button or white mushroom, shiitake, portobello, and oyster mushrooms to name a few.
Despite their varying appearance and taste, they all have similar nutritional profiles, which are characterized by low sugar and fat contents.
One cup (70 grams) of raw mushrooms provides the following :
- Calories: 15
- Carbs: 2 grams
- Sugar: 1 gram
- Protein: 2 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Vitamin B2, or riboflavin: 22% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin B3, or niacin: 16% of the DV
- Selenium: 12% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 5% of the DV
Mushrooms are rich in selenium and certain B vitamins. B vitamins are a group of eight water-soluble vitamins that’s strongly linked to improved brain function. Meanwhile, selenium is a potent antioxidant that plays a key role in thyroid function .
The glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) are two classification systems that help evaluate how carb-containing foods affect blood sugar.
They are both popular strategies and widely used in the treatment of chronic diseases like diabetes .
The GI method ranks foods on a scale of 0–100 and tells you how they may affect your blood sugar levels by assigning them into three categories :
- low GI: 1–55
- medium GI: 56–69
- high GI: 70–100
Foods with a low GI will likely raise your blood sugar levels at a slower pace. In contrast, those with a high GI will cause them to spike.
Alternatively, foods can be categorized by their GL, which takes into account a food’s GI, as well as its carb content and serving size. It’s determined by multiplying the GI by the carb content of a specific serving size and dividing the result by 100 .
The GL system also classifies food into three categories :
- low GL: 10 and under
- medium GL: 11–19
- high GL: 20 and above
Similarly to GI, a low GL tells you that a food only slightly affects your blood sugar levels, whereas a high GL indicates a more significant effect.
Although mushrooms are technically fungi, they are considered white vegetables — like onions and garlic — with a low GI of 10–15 and a GL of less than 1 per cup (70 grams), meaning that they won’t spike your blood sugar levels (11).
Mushrooms may benefit certain types of diabetes.
Research shows that consuming a diet rich in vegetables like mushrooms and other vitamin-rich foods may help protect against gestational diabetes, which affects approximately 14% of pregnancies worldwide and affects both the mother and child .
Thanks to their high vitamin B content, mushrooms may also protect against decreased mental function and dementia in older adults with vitamin B deficiencies, as well as those with diabetes who take the drug metformin to control their blood sugar levels .
In addition to B vitamins, the main bioactive compounds in mushrooms —polysaccharides — may have anti-diabetic properties.
Research in animals with type 2 diabetes shows that polysaccharides may lower blood sugar levels, improve insulin resistance, and reduce pancreatic tissue damage .
Plus, the soluble fiber beta glucan — one of the types of polysaccharides found in mushrooms — slows digestion and delays the absorption of sugars, thus controlling your blood sugar levels after a meal .
Polysaccharides may also lower blood cholesterol levels, which in turn may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke associated with unmanaged diabetes.
That said, more research is needed to better understand how the B vitamins and polysaccharides in mushrooms may benefit people with diabetes.
Given the wide variety of mushrooms, there are plenty of ways to add them to your diet, including eating them raw, grilled, roasted, sautéed, or in a sauce or soup.
If you’re looking for new and tasty ways to add them to your meals, try this low carb mushroom and cauliflower rice skillet.
For this recipe you need the following:
- 1.5 cups (105 grams) of mushrooms, sliced
- 1.5 cups (200 grams) of cauliflower rice
- 1 cup (30 grams) of spinach
- 1/4 cup (40 grams) of onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 celery stick, sliced
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 3 tbsp (45 ml) of vegetable broth
- Salt, pepper, and soy sauce to taste
Place a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the onions and celery and cook for 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook for a few seconds.
Next, add the mushrooms and sauté until cooked. Then add the cauliflower rice and the rest of the ingredients — minus the spinach — and cook until soft. Lastly, add the spinach and season with salt and pepper before serving.
This recipe serves two and makes a great addition to your lunch or dinner.
Mushrooms are safe to eat if you have diabetes, as their low GI and GL content won’t spike your blood sugar levels.
Also, their vitamin B and polysaccharide content may offer additional health benefits that are of particular relevance for people with diabetes, including improved blood sugar and cholesterol control.
Aside from their anti-diabetic properties, mushrooms can add flavor to your dishes without any extra carbs and calories.
Vegan Jerkies That Are Just As Flavorful as the Real Deal
Whether you entirely nixed animal products from your diet years ago or you’re simply trying to cut back on your meat consumption once or twice a week, you’re bound to crave a few foods that just don’t have a spot on your plant-based plate.
You might yearn for an ultra-creamy pint of chocolate ice cream after eating coconut-milk versions for ages or hanker for a seriously tender cheeseburger on your Meatless Monday. And when you’re going meat-free on the road or hiking trail, you might seriously miss a chewy, smoky hunk of jerky.
Lucky for you, plenty of plant-based brands are now offering the vegan jerky you need to fill the void in your stomach.
Made from mushrooms, soy, wheat, and seasonings, these meat-free munchies boast the same leathery texture, savory flavors, and in some cases, protein content, as the real deal. Translation: Even omnivores will want to wolf down a pack of vegan jerky.
In order to create a vegan jerky that hits you with the meat snack’s signature umami taste, Moku uses king oyster mushrooms as its base, then flavors each strip with salty coconut aminos, sweet maple syrup and pineapple juice, and savory chickpea miso. The result: A vegan jerky that satisfies every single taste bud.
No matter which flavor you choose — Hawaiian Teriyaki, Sweet & Spicy, or Original — you’ll score 4 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber (or 25 percent of the dietary fiber intake recommended daily by the United States Department of Agriculture) in just one 170-calorie pack.
Buy It: Moku Mushroom Jerky Variety Pack, $21, amazon.com
Louisville Vegan Jerky Co.
Not a fan of mushrooms? Grab your chewy snack from Louisville Vegan Jerky Co., which uses soy protein to craft five types of binge-worthy vegan jerkies.
The company sells jerky infused with classic flavor profiles — such as Smoked Black Pepper, Smokey Carolina BBQ, and Maple Bacon — as well as varieties that stand out from the crowd, including Buffalo Dill and Perfect Pepperoni.
Plus, one serving of the brand’s vegan jerkies boasts 5 to 7 grams of protein and offers 70 to 100 calories. (Related: What Eating the Right Amount of Protein Every Day Actually Looks Like)
Buy It: Louisville Vegan Jerky Variety Pack, $36, amazon.com
Primal Spirit Vegan Jerky
If you can’t decide if you should stock your pantry with mushroom-style or soy-based vegan jerkies — or something entirely different — add a variety pack from Primal Spirit to your shopping cart.
The company creates chewy jerkies made from shiitake mushrooms (in the Hot & Spicy flavor), soy protein (in the Hickory Smoked and Texas BBQ flavors), and wheat protein, aka seitan (in the Mesquite Lime, Thai Peanut, and Teriyaki flavors). (ICYDK, even novice cooks can make seitan from scratch.)
No matter which variety you choose, though, you’ll score at least 10 grams of protein per package. And much like the Slim Jims you noshed on back in your meat-eating days, Primal Spirit’s vegan jerky comes in single-serving sticks, so you can just rip open the plastic wrap and chomp away with reckless abandon. (Related: 7 Healthy Jerky Snacks for On-the-Go Protein)
Buy It: Primal Spirit Vegan Jerky Sampler Pack, $20, amazon.com
KRAVE Plant-Based Jerky
KRAVE may be known for its portable pork and beef snacks, but the brand sure knows how to concoct a killer vegan jerky.
The company’s Plant-Based Jerky, available in Korean BBQ and Smoked Chipotle flavors, is made from a blend of pea protein isolate, fava bean protein, and pea fiber, so it’s no surprise that one serving contains a hefty 8 grams of the muscle-building macronutrient per serving.
And to make those not-so-appetizing main ingredients truly delectable in jerky-form, KRAVE combines them with soy sauce and powerful spices. Seriously, you won’t even realize you’re munching on veggies.
Buy It: KRAVE Korean BBQ Plant-Based Jerky, $40 for 8, amazon.com
Made from a blend of soy protein, spices, tomatoes, black beans, oil, and rice vinegar, NOBLE Jerky’s plant-based jerky is as basic — and delicious — as it gets. The company offers the usual jerky flavors, including Original, Teriyaki, Sweet BBQ, and Chipotle, all made from Non-GMO Project Verified ingredients.
Plus, one serving of the chewy vegan jerky provides 7 grams of protein and 1.7 milligrams of iron (or roughly 10percent of the RDA). Since vegetarians and vegans may struggle to get enough iron in their diet — as plant-derived isn’t absorbed as well as iron found in meat — this little bit can help meat-eaters get one step closer to satisfying their quota.
Buy It: Noble Jerky Variety Pack, $20, amazon.com
All Y’alls Foods’ It’s Jerky Y’all
Texas may raise the most cattle out of any state, but that doesn’t mean it shies away from vegan jerkies. Take, for instance, All Y’alls Foods, a protein snack company just outside of Dallas that offers three flavors of soy-derived vegan jerky, all of which are inspired by the state itself.
The Black Pepper & Sea Salt version is reminiscent of a Texas beach day; the Teriyaki option features prickly pear, a plant native to the state; and the Chipotle variety contains — you guessed it — chipotle peppers, which are typically grown in south Texas. Regardless of the flavor you choose, you’ll score 7 grams of protein and 3 to 4 grams of fiber (11 to 14 percent of the recommended dietary fiber intake) per serving.
Buy It: It’s Jerky Y’all Vegan Jerky Variety Pack, $23, amazon.com
If you’re looking for a vegan jerky you really have to gnaw on — not just chew twice and swallow — Pleather is the one for you.
The company offers three varieties of jerkies — all made from dried, marinated strips of seitan — that are tough and chewy like “rawhide,” according to co-founder Matt Trahan.
When you’re craving some heat, nosh on the Black Pepper jerky, flavored with white pepper, Spanish paprika, black pepper, cayenne powder, and other spices.
For a balance of sweet and spicy, munch on the Red Pepper Bourbon BBQ jerky, which contains real Kentucky Bourbon. And for an on-the-go snack that tastes *just* like a stir fry, grab a few strips of the Ginger Sesame jerky.
Whichever flavor you decide to chomp on, you’ll score a whopping 16 grams of protein.
Buy It: Pleather Black Pepper Vegan Jerky, $7, amazon.com