Mushrooms – why are they difficult to digest?


Of the 10,000 known species of large mushrooms, around 300 are edible. Dishes containing mushrooms are pleasantly aromatic and have an autumnal note, but unfortunately they are often tough on the stomach. Responsibility lies not with the sauces that we eat with the mushrooms, but the substances contained in the mushrooms themselves.

Are mushrooms healthy?

Although mushrooms consist mainly of water, they also contain many proteins, vitamins and minerals. Their vitamin and mineral content is comparable to that of various vegetables. In small quantities, mushrooms are also ideal flavour carriers and give a dish a pleasantly aromatic and autumnal note. However, the cell walls of mushrooms consist of the indigestible dietary fibre chitin.

Mushrooms are tough on the stomach

There are people who lack the enzyme in their intestines that breaks down trehalose. For these people, eating mushrooms can lead to more severe digestive problems like flatulence and diarrhoea. Such symptoms can often be mistaken for mushroom poisoning, although the trigger can also be edible mushrooms that are too old or not cooked properly.

Don’t eat mushrooms raw

It isn't advisable to eat mushrooms raw. Some mushrooms contain toxins that are only destroyed with cooking. In addition, uncooked wild mushrooms run the risk of being infected by fox tapeworm. Mushrooms such as button mushrooms, shiitake, oyster mushrooms or king trumpet mushrooms can be eaten raw, but even these are difficult to digest in large quantities. If you want to eat mushrooms raw, it’s best to go for cultivated varieties.

Always chew well

The cell walls of mushrooms are thick. This means that the protein in the cells can only be absorbed if you chew well. This also facilitates the digestion of mushrooms. Children who can’t chew well should avoid eating mushrooms.

Experts recommend consuming no more than 200g to 300g of fresh mushrooms per week. This is also to avoid the risk of over-exposure to harmful substances that accumulate in mushrooms from the environment. Depending on the location, mushrooms can be contaminated with pollutants like radioactive substances or heavy metals.

What to note when reheating

Leftovers containing mushrooms may only be reheated under the following conditions:

  1. Cool down quickly after cooking
  2. Store only in the refrigerator at a maximum of +5°C
  3. Consume within one to two days

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