Mushrooms, crimini

What's New and Beneficial About Crimini Mushrooms

WHFoods Recommendations

People do not usually consider mushrooms, including crimini mushrooms, as a part of their meals that can offer great nutritional value. However, the nutritional value of crimini mushrooms may surprise you. One cup of crimini mushrooms provides a good, very good, or excellent source of 15 different vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant phytonutrients. To maximize their flavor and the retention of their nutrients it is important to not to overcook them. That's why we recommend healthy sautéeing crimini mushrooms for just 7 minutes to bring out their best flavor while maximizing their nutrient retention. For more on our Healthiest Way of Cooking crimini mushrooms see the How to Enjoy section.

Mushrooms, Crimini, raw
1.00 cup
(72.00 grams)
Calories: 16
GI: very low




 vitamin B227%

 pantothenic acid22%

 vitamin B317%




 vitamin B16%


 vitamin B65%




 vitamin B123%

Health Benefits

Immune System Support

White blood cells play a key role in the health of our immune system, and without healthy and balanced activity on the part of our white blood cells, we cannot protect ourselves from diseases caused by microorganisms or from allergy-related problems. There are many important types of white blood cells, and these include monocytes, macrophages, and dendritic cells. All three types of immune cells have their activity levels shifted by substances found in crimini mushrooms! In a remarkable way, unique phytonutrients found in crimini mushrooms change the way these white blood cells go about their business. In some cases, they prevent white blood cells from becoming active when they would be better off remaining inactive. In other cases, they trigger white blood cell activity when more activity is needed. The list of immune-impacting phytonutrients in crimini mushroom is both unusual and lengthy. It includes beta-D-glucans, fucogalactans, APO (2-amino-3H-phenoxazin-3-one), p-tolyl-hydrazine, and a wide range of substances involving unique combinations of protein-plus-carbohydrate components. The role of a healthy immune system in helping protect us against arthritis, development of cancer, and development of cardiovascular disease has been examined with a focus on dietary mushroom intake, and evidence suggests that crimini mushrooms can help lower our risk of these health problems by supporting balanced activities among the white blood cells of our immune system.

One final note may be in order when thinking about crimini mushrooms and our immune system. One key nutrient for healthy immune system function is vitamin D, and crimini mushrooms do provide measurable amounts of this vitamin. However, the relationship of vitamin D to mushrooms can be complicated. The form of vitamin D most commonly found in mushrooms is ergosterol (sometimes called vitamin D1). This form of the vitamin is not active in humans as a hormone. With the help of sunlight, some of the ergosterol in mushrooms can be converted into ergocalciferol (sometimes called vitamin D2). However, since mushrooms do not require sunlight for growth, they are sometimes produced without exposure to light and, in this case, would not provide D2. (Some mushroom growers deliberately expose mushrooms that are being grown in the dark to a short burst of light that can help some of the D1 in mushrooms get converted into D2.) Even though D2 can be useful to our cells, this D2 form of vitamin D is still not the fully active hormonal form. That fully active form (vitamin D3, cholecalciferol) is not provided by mushrooms whether exposed to light or not. From our perspective, the bottom line for vitamin D and mushrooms is much like the bottom line for vitamin B12 and mushrooms. You cannot count on mushrooms to be helpful with your vitamin D requirements (just like you cannot count on them to be helpful in meeting your vitamin B12 requirements), but you may end up getting some bonus vitamin D (and vitamin B12) benefits from crimini mushrooms, along with their other amazing health-supportive nutrients.

Anti-Inflammatory Benefits

Risk of many common health problems—including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain types of cancer—is increased by the presence of chronic unwanted inflammation. Many factors can contribute to chronic inflammation, and these factors include overproduction of molecules in our body that tell it to launch an inflammatory response. If production of these molecules—called pro-inflammatory molecules—can be reduced, chronic inflammation can be reduced or sometimes prevented altogether. Intake of whole fresh mushrooms, mushroom extracts, and powdered/dried mushrooms has been shown to accomplish precisely this result—blocked production of pro-inflammatory molecules. In some studies, crimini mushroom appears to be a better blocker of certain pro-inflammatory molecules than its fellow mushrooms like shiitake and maitake. These anti-inflammatory studies have usually been conducted on laboratory animals, and have usually focused on pro-inflammatory molecules like IL-10 (interleukin-10), IL-12 (interleukin-12), and IFN-gamma (interferon-gamma). The results of these studies have been consistent and also clear: to avoid chronic overproduction of pro-inflammatory molecules, it's helpful to include crimini mushrooms in a diet.

Antioxidant Benefits

There are two outstanding types of antioxidant support provided by crimini mushrooms. The first type involves their nutrient composition, and the second type involves their impact on oxidative metabolism. In terms of nutrients, you don't have to look far to find key players in antioxidant world: crimini mushrooms provide an excellent amount of selenium, and a very good amount of zinc and manganese. All three minerals are critical antioxidant nutrients and are also required for the functioning of antioxidant enzymes. The antioxidant content of crimini mushrooms also includes some unusual antioxidant molecules. The best studied of these molecules is ergothioneine (technically identified as 2-mercaptohistidine trimethylbetaine). Ergothioneine is an amino acid-like molecule that has not only been shown to have antioxidant properties but to also specifically help prevent oxidative damage to DNA (our genetic material) and proteins.

In addition to providing us with these key antioxidant nutrients, mushrooms also impact our oxidative metabolism. Intake of crimini mushrooms and crimini mushrooms extracts has been studied in relationship to the activity of several oxidative enzymes, including SOD (superoxide dismutase), CAT (catalase), and GPO (glutathione peroxidase). Most of these oxidative enzyme studies have been conducted on animals, including mice, rats, and chickens. Addition of mushroom to the animals' diets in relatively small amounts has been shown to increase enzyme activity and in the case of GPO, to increase the cell's supply of glutathione (GSH) itself. In the minds of many researchers, GSH may be a central antioxidant in many cellular activities.

Cardiovascular Benefits

Since the health of our circulatory system depends on great antioxidant protection and effective regulation of inflammation, it is not surprising to see crimini mushrooms providing impressive cardiovascular benefits. This mushroom is simply to rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients to go unheralded in this cardiovascular area. As might be expected, research studies show that crimini mushrooms can help protect us from cardiovascular disease by protecting our blood vessels from oxidative damage as well as chronic inflammation. This protection has been specifically shown with respect to the aorta--our body's largest blood vessel. Cardiovascular protection by crimini mushrooms extends beyond these antioxidant and anti-inflammatory areas, however. Research studies on laboratory animals with high blood levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides (TGs) have also shown that daily intake of crimini mushrooms over a period of 1-2 months can reduce levels of all three blood fats (total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and TGs.

The cardiovascular benefits from crimini mushrooms also involve their B vitamins. In addition to being an excellent source of vitamins B2, B3 (niacin), and B5 (pantothenic acid), crimini mushrooms are a very good source of vitamin B1, and good source of vitamin B6, folate, and choline. As described earlier in this profile, these mushrooms also sometimes provide us with a significant amount of vitamin B12. The B vitamin choline (about 19 milligrams per cup) is also provided by this B vitamin-rich food. One hallmark risk factor for cardiovascular disease (especially atherosclerosis) is an elevated level of homocysteine. This amino acid lies at the intersection of many complicated metabolic pathways important to the healthy function of our cardiovascular system. Deficiencies of vitamins B6 and B12 or folate can increase our risk of elevated homocysteine and, along with it, our risk of cardiovascular disease. By providing us with these critical homocysteine-balancing B vitamins, crimini mushrooms provide us with yet another tool for improving our cardiovascular health.

Anti-Cancer Benefits

A fascinating twist in the story of crimini mushrooms, immune support, and anti-inflammatory benefits involves cancer cells. In some ways, cancer cells can be considered the opposite of healthy cells. With healthy cells, we want to avoid chronic inflammation, and we want our immune system to maintain a sense of respect for the miraculous functioning of each healthy cell. With cancer cells, the situation is somewhat reversed. In the case of cancer cells, we would like our immune system to be unusually active and to send out white blood cells that can dismantle and deactivate cancerous or cancer-like cells.

In some situations, it can also be helpful for inflammatory activity to be increased in cancer cells. Increased activity of pro-inflammatory molecules (for example, prostaglandin E2, also called PGE2) can sometimes cause a cancer cell to shift itself over into a process called apoptosis (programmed cell death). In this case, the cancer cell can be prevented from causing more disruption among healthy cells.

The immune system's ability to actively detect and deactivate cancer cells (or potentially cancerous cells) and the inflammatory system's ability to help trigger apoptosis in cancer cells (or potentially cancerous cells) are abilities that can be enhanced by intake of crimini mushrooms. We've seen recent studies on laboratory animals as well as lab studies on different cancer cell lines that show significant anti-cancer benefits from crimini mushroom extracts and also from dried, powdered crimini mushrooms. (Extracts and dried powder forms are used to enable measured consumption by the laboratory animals.)

Of special interest in this health benefits area have been studies on breast cancer and prostate cancer. In the case of breast cancer—especially hormone-related breast cancer—it may be the presence of a special fatty acid called CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) in mushrooms that is especially important. CLA may be able to bind onto aromatase enzymes in the cancer cells and lessen their ability to produce estrogen. Since some breast cancer tumors are dependent upon estrogen for their growth, this blocking of the aromatase enzyme by the mushrooms' CLA may help prevent or control this type of tumor. In the case of prostate cancer, blocking of the aromatase enzyme by CLA has also been a research focus since prostate cancer cells are known to produce aromatase enzymes. Blocking of a second type of enzyme (called 5-alpha reductase) by mushroom extracts has also been a focus of prostate cancer studies. It's important to remember that most types of cancer begin their development in situations where there has been chronic unwanted inflammation related to lack of anti-inflammatory nutrients and also in situations where there has been chronic unwanted oxidative stress due to lack of antioxidant nutrients. By providing us with their unique mix of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients, crimini mushrooms may be able to help us decrease our cancer risk not only for breast and prostate cancer, but for other cancer types as well.


Crimini mushrooms are a coffee-colored variety of the world's most commonly eaten mushroom, commonly called the "button" mushroom. The names "white button," "crimini" and "portobello" all refer to this same scientific category of mushroom, Agaricus bisporus. Different strains (also called "isolates") of Agaricus bisporus are used in commercial mushroom production along with varied growing conditions and varied time periods of cultivation to produce different varieties this of widely loved food. White button varieties are typically obtained from select strains that can be harvested at a relatively immature stage of growth. Strains used to produce crimini mushrooms are typically harvested at an intermediate growth stage. Baby bella mushroom, mini bella mushroom, baby portobello mushroon, and portobellini mushroom are other names for crimini mushrooms. Crimini mushrooms are also sometimes referred to simply as "brown mushrooms." Portobello mushrooms are crimini mushrooms that have been allowed to grow to full maturity.

Mushrooms are as mysteriously unique as they are delicious. While often thought of as a vegetable and prepared like one, mushrooms are actually fungi, a special type of living organism that has no roots, leaves, flowers, or seeds. Technically speaking, mushrooms are not vegetables. In fact, technically speaking, mushrooms are not even plants! Mushrooms do not require either soil or light in order to grow. All that's required is decaying organic matter of some kind, including the kind found in decaying wood, decaying leaves, or manure. While mushrooms can be cultivated, they easily grow wild in many regions of the world due to their unusual and fairly simple growth requirements.

The unique nature of mushrooms as a fungus that grows on decaying matter is one of the reasons that we encourage purchase of certified organic mushrooms. Growth media used in the commercial production of non-organic crimini mushrooms can be inconsistent in terms of quality, and we believe that your risk of contamination with pesticides, heavy metals, and other unwanted substances will often be lowered through the purchase of certified organic mushrooms. (At present, there are no organic certification standards created exclusively for mushroom production. But at the same time, many organic standards created for production of all foods apply to the growing of organic mushrooms as well. For example, regulations for the composting of manure in production of certified organic mushrooms are stricter than the regulations for the composting of manure in production of non-organic mushrooms.)


Button mushrooms have grown wild since prehistoric times, having been consumed as food by the early hunter-gatherers. Since ancient times, mushrooms have been thought to have special powers. The Egyptians thought that they granted immortality, and since only the pharaohs were felt to be worthy of this gift, the common people were not even allowed to touch mushrooms, let alone eat them. In ancient Rome, people oftentimes referred to mushrooms as cibus diorum—food for the gods. The folklore of many cultures, including Russia, China, and Mexico held that eating mushrooms could give someone superhuman strength.

Historians are not entirely certain about the time period in which humans first began cultivation of mushrooms for food, but this cultivation most likely began in Asia, involving cultivation in China, Japan, and India. The first Western cultivation dates back to the 17th century in Europe. Especially well-known is mushroom cultivation that began in France, specifically in the catacombs (underground caves and tunnels) that lay beneath the city of Paris. The button mushrooms are sometimes referred to as Paris mushrooms ("champignons de Paris") for this reason. Mushrooms are still commercially produced underground in the Tours and Saumur regions of France. China is currently the world's largest commercial producer of mushrooms, following by Europe and then the United States. Within the U.S., about 70% of all mushrooms are grown on the east coast, with the state of Pennsylvania having the highest U.S. yields.

How to Select and Store

Look for crimini mushrooms that are firm, plump, clean and brown in color. Those that are wrinkled or have wet slimy spots should be avoided. If your recipe calls for caps only, choose mushrooms that have short stems to avoid waste. Fresh and dried button mushrooms are available throughout the year.

When selecting mushrooms, we encourage you to choose certified organic versions. Even though we encourage the purchase of organic for all foods, we believe that it's important to understand some of the potential differences between mushrooms that have been produced organically versus non-organically. Unlike wild mushrooms, commercially produced mushrooms are the result of a complicated cultivation process that involves three distinct steps.

The first step involves composting. The goal of this first step is to create an environment (substrate) in which the mushrooms can grow. The preparation of compost often includes the use of animal manure, and we believe that rules for the organic composting of animal manure are both stricter than the rules for non-organic compositing and can result in healthier compost.

The second step involves spawning. Because the spores (reproductive elements) of mushrooms are too small for growers to handle directly, they are germinated to form threadlike substances called mycelia, and then combined with grains to form what is called "spawn." Organic regulations for seed stock and seed preparation apply to preparation of spawn in mushroom production, and, once again, we believe that the stricter organic regulations can result in healthier spawn. Once the spawn have been prepared, they are added to the compost and allowed to develop into mushroom colonies. During this spawn colonization step, the mushrooms remain in their vegetative state of development. They have yet to look anything like the mushrooms we purchase in the grocery store.

A final step in the mushroom production process is to trigger a change in their development from the vegetative phase to the reproductive (fruiting) phase—allowing the mushrooms to transform into their familiar food form. In order to trigger this change, an additional later of material is added to the spawned compost. This layer of material—called the casing—may include field soil, leftover mushroom substrate (called spent mushroom substrate) or other substances including sphagnum peat moss. Once again, we believe that the stricter organic regulations for soil and soil amendments can help to produce a healthier final product. Examples of unwanted contaminants that may be greatly reduced or eliminated by stricter organic standards include synthetic herbicides, insecticides, and heavy metals.

The best way to store loose button mushrooms is to keep them in the refrigerator in a loosely closed paper bag wrapped in a damp cloth or laid out in a glass dish that is covered with a moist cloth. Whether you use a paper bag, a damp cloth, or a glass dish, it's worth avoiding all storage methods that leave the mushrooms stacked in one big clump. The less surface contact they have with one another the fresher they will stay. A great step to avoid clumping is to make a first layer of mushrooms inside your paper bag or on top of your damp cloth or glass dish, and then cover this mushroom layer with a paper towel. A second layer of mushrooms can then be placed on top of the paper towel. These storage methods will help preserve the mushrooms' moisture without causing them to become soggy and keep them fresh for several days. Once mushrooms have developed a slimy layer across their surface, they are not longer fully fresh.

Mushrooms that are purchased prepackaged can usually be stored in the refrigerator for 3-7 days. However, to maximize freshness, we recommend removal from the original container and storage according to one of the methods described above. Recent research has shown refrigerator storage to be especially important for preserving mushroom phytonutrients. In research studies on button mushrooms, loss of phytonutrients related to discoloration and hardening of mushrooms has been shown to occur over a 6-8 day period as storage temperatures get increased from 38F/3C (a common household refrigerator temperature) to 59F/15C (a temperature much closer to room temperature). These study findings are good reasons not to leave mushrooms sitting out on the countertop or even storing them temporarily in a cabinet.

Dried mushrooms should be stored in a tightly sealed container in either the refrigerator or freezer, where they will stay fresh for six months to one year.

How to Enjoy

A Few Quick Serving Ideas

WHFoods Recipes That Feature Crimini Mushrooms


Crimini Mushrooms and Purines
Crimini mushrooms contain naturally-occurring substances called purines. Purines are commonly found in plants, animals, and humans. In some individuals who are susceptible to purine-related problems, excessive intake of these substances can cause health problems. Since purines can be broken down to form uric acid, excess accumulation of purines in the body can lead to excess accumulation of uric acid. The health condition called "gout" and the formation of kidney stones from uric acid are two examples of uric acid-related problems that can be related to excessive intake of purine-containing foods. For this reason, individuals with kidney problems or gout may want to limit or avoid intake of purine-containing foods such as crimini mushrooms. For more on this subject, please see "What are purines and in which foods are they found?"

Nutritional Profile

Introduction to Food Rating System Chart

The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good or good source. Next to the nutrient name you will find the following information: the amount of the nutrient that is included in the noted serving of this food; the %Daily Value (DV) that that amount represents (similar to other information presented in the website, this DV is calculated for 25-50 year old healthy woman); the nutrient density rating; and, the food's World's Healthiest Foods Rating. Underneath the chart is a table that summarizes how the ratings were devised. Read detailed information on our Food and Recipe Rating System.

Mushrooms, Crimini, raw
1.00 cup
72.00 grams
Calories: 16
GI: very low
Nutrient Amount DRI/DV
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
copper 0.36 mg 40 45.5 excellent
selenium 18.72 mcg 34 38.7 excellent
vitamin B2 0.35 mg 27 30.6 excellent
pantothenic acid 1.08 mg 22 24.5 excellent
vitamin B3 2.74 mg 17 19.5 excellent
phosphorus 86.40 mg 12 14.0 excellent
potassium 322.56 mg 9 10.5 very good
zinc 0.79 mg 7 8.2 very good
vitamin B1 0.07 mg 6 6.6 very good
manganese 0.10 mg 5 5.7 very good
vitamin B6 0.08 mg 5 5.3 good
folate 18.00 mcg 5 5.1 good
choline 15.91 mg 4 4.3 good
protein 1.80 g 4 4.1 good
vitamin B12 0.07 mcg 3 3.3 good
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
excellent DRI/DV>=75% OR
Density>=7.6 AND DRI/DV>=10%
very good DRI/DV>=50% OR
Density>=3.4 AND DRI/DV>=5%
good DRI/DV>=25% OR
Density>=1.5 AND DRI/DV>=2.5%


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