Mushrooms can replace beef to help in obesity struggle: study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition

Formulating foods with mushroom instead of beef may reduce caloric intake by over 400 calories per day, according to new research.

With obesity levels rising around the world, the food industry is increasingly looking at the formulation of low-energy density foods, and substituting meat for mushrooms may be an option, according to new research published in the journal Appetite​.

Researchers from John Hopkins University reported that consumption of mushroom entrées reduced daily energy and fat intakes by an average of 420 calories and 30 grams, respectively, over a four-day period.

"The most intriguing finding was that subjects seemed to accept mushrooms as a palatable and suitable culinary substitute for meat,"​ said lead researcher Lawrence Cheskin from John Hopkins Weight Management Center. "They didn't compensate for the lower calorie mushroom meal by eating more food later in the day."

Healthy foods are increasingly the preoccupation all over the world, as in 2005 approximately 1.6bn adults were overweight and 400m were obese, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). It further predicts that by 2015 2.3bn adults will be overweight and more than 700m will be obese.

Study details

The researchers recruited 54 men and women to take part in the study and randomly assigned them to receive either beef or mushroom lunch entrées over four days – lasagna, napoleon, sloppy Joe and chili. Subjects then switched entrées to consume the other ingredient (mushroom or beef) the following week in order to act as their own controls.

The energy content of meat and mushroom lunches was 783 kcal and 339 kcal, respectively, while the portion size was held constant.

Cheskin and co-workers report that total daily energy and fat intakes were significantly lower in the mushroom condition than the meat, while the subjects did not rate the palatability of the foods differently. Also ratings of appetite, satiation and satiety did not differ between the groups.

“We found that overtly substituting ground white button mushrooms for lean ground beef in a single meal for four consecutive days significantly reduced daily energy and fat intake, while maintaining ratings of palatability, appetite, satiation and satiety,” ​wrote the researchers.

“The method of substituting one food for another within familiar recipes may be more appealing to many prospective dieters than making more dramatic or restrictive changes in dietary behaviour.”

Taste is important

The similar palatability ratings of between the mushroom and beef meals was described by the researchers as: “essential for assessing potential utility of a food substitution, since palatability is known to exert a strong influence on energy intake.

“In addition, the fat content of a food tends to increase palatability for US populations, which is one reason that overconsumption of high-fat foods is thought to occur.

“This example of how energy and fat content in the diet may be decreased while maintaining palatability may be useful for the development of generalizable strategies for weight management,” ​they said.

The study was funded by the Mushroom Council.

Source: Appetite​July 2008, Volume 51, Issue 1, Pages 50-57 “Lack of energy compensation over 4 days when white button mushrooms are substituted for beef”​Authors: L.J. Cheskin, L.M. Davis, L.M. Lipsky, A.H. Mitola, T. Lycan, V. Mitchell, B. Mickle, E. Adkins

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