The health benefits of portobello, shiitake, oyster, Swiss brown and button mushrooms (plus how to cook wild mushroom soup)

Mushrooms are so much more than their tasty flavour. 

Words: Kristina Jensen

Research in the last few years has shown mushrooms to be much more than just something you add to your cooking to give it good flavour.

A 2010 study found portobello, oyster and white button mushrooms significantly suppressed breast cancer cell growth and reproduction.

“This suggests that both common and specialty mushrooms may be chemoprotective against breast cancer.”

READ MORE: Meet the Moutere couple who ditched their jobs to grow wild mushrooms

Other research on lentinan, found in shiitake mushrooms, shows it may help extend the survival of some patients undergoing chemotheraphy by enhancing the immune system.

Mushrooms also contain good levels of chitin and beta-glucan, fibres that lower cholesterol, and they are cholestoral-free.

The Neudorfs pan-fry thin slices of saffron milk caps in olive oil, a little lemon juice, parsley, garlic and cream, then eat it on toast.

To get the full benefit, you need to cook mushrooms to break down their tough cell walls, and to destroy any toxins and compounds that make digestion difficult.

A 2017 study found microwaving and grilling mushrooms is the healthiest way to cook them, maintaining the most nutrients.

Wild Mushroom Soup

Serves 4


10g Neudorf dried wild mushrooms
200g button or Swiss brown mushrooms
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
30g butter
handful of fresh chopped parsley
½ cup cream
1 tablespoon cornflour or arrowroot


Soak dried mushrooms in 1 cup of stock. Slice fresh mushrooms. Heat butter in a pot, add fresh mushrooms and half the parsley. Cook until the mushrooms become soft.

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Add soaked mushrooms with their liquid and remaining 2 cups of stock and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Dissolve cornflour or arrowroot in the cream and add while stirring. Season with salt and pepper and serve sprinkled with the remaining parsley.


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NZ Lifestyle Block This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.
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