Mushrooms are one of the best vegan sources of protein, so they’re an obvious choice if you’re looking to shift more to a plant-based diet while still keeping protein levels high.
The obvious question is how well do mushrooms stack up to meat in terms of protein.
I put together this simple comparison to show both the protein content and nutritional content of mushrooms and meat side-by-side.
Protein Comparison of Mushrooms and Meat
You’re not going to find a single amount of protein in “meat”, it varies widely based on the animal, product, and cut.
So I looked up the most general value I could for a variety of popular meats in the USDA food database, as well as nutritional data for raw white mushrooms.
Mushrooms are over 90% water when raw, so the amount of protein per cooked 100 gram serving will vary widely based on how much water you cook out (for reference, most meat is <70% water when cooked).
|Protein Source||Protein (g) per 100g||Protein (g) per 100 calories|
There’s only 22 calories in 100 grams of raw mushrooms (and not much more in most cooked versions), so it’s not surprising that the protein in mushrooms per 100 grams is much lower than meat.
However, the amount of protein per 100 calories in mushrooms is comparable to most meats. It’s actually more than fatty meats like ham and pork chops, and the only meat sources with more protein per 100 calories are the super lean ones like chicken breast.
In theory, you could cook up a ton of mushrooms and remove most of the water and get a similar amount of protein from them compared to meat in a meal.
Vitamins and Minerals in Mushrooms vs Meat
While I understand you’re probably concerned primarily about protein content, it’s always good to see the full picture.
So let’s take a quick look at the macronutrients in mushrooms and meat, along with vitamin and mineral data.
Note that I only included the 2 most popular varieties of meat here for simplicity (ground beef 90%, and chicken breast).
All data is per 100 grams (raw mushrooms, but cooked meat).
|Mushrooms||Ground Beef||Chicken Breast|
|Total Lipid (g)||0.3||10.0||3.2|
Obviously meat has way more calories because mushrooms have a high water content.
The remnants of calories in meat come from fat, while most other calories besides protein mushrooms come from carbohydrates (with a bit of fiber).
Below is a table of the vitamins and minerals, along with a column for the general RDA of each for adults for a simple comparison.
The fact that mushrooms have a comparable amount or more of many vitamins and minerals despite having about an eighth of the calories is pretty crazy.
|RDA||Mushrooms||Ground Beef||Chicken Breast|
|Vitamin B-12 (µg)||2.4||0.0||2.2||N/A|
|Vitamin B-6 (mg)||1.3||0.1||0.4||0.9|
|Vitamin D (µg)||15||7.0||3.0||N/A|
|Vitamin C (mg)||90||2.1||0.0||0.0|
|Vitamin E (mg)||15||0.0||0.2||N/A|
|Vitamin K (µg)||75||1.0||0.8||N/A|
|Vitamin A (µg)||900||0.0||4.0||N/A|
The biggest differences are obviously that meat does contain vitamin B-12 and a significant amount of sodium.
If you adjusted these values on a per calorie basis, mushrooms would have more of just about every nutrient by a significant margin.
Mushrooms vs Meat: Which is Healthier?
I honestly didn’t think mushrooms would stack up very well when I first started prepping this comparison, but they really do.
We saw a few main things:
- Meat has significantly more protein per 100 grams than mushrooms. However, mushrooms have a comparable amount of protein per 100 calories to most common meat products.
- While meat does provide a reasonable amount of certain vitamins and minerals, mushrooms have way more vitamins and minerals per 100 calories.
There are also other things that you might want to consider.
The fact you’re even here probably means that you know that mushrooms are much better for the environment than meat. I’ve gone into this in much more detail in my vegan protein vs meat comparison if you want actual data.
And while the effects of saturated fat on health are controversial, the best case scenario seems to be that it’s not that bad, but getting a lot doesn’t seem beneficial in any case.