Educating health professionals about Australian mushrooms (MU17002)
What’s it all about?
This education program is all about delivering research and information on the nutritional benefits of mushrooms to Australian health professionals including dietitians, nutritionists, GPs and more. The project team is bringing together the latest science on the health benefits of mushrooms, and using this for the development and dissemination of evidence-based messages and tools. The ultimate goal is to equip and empower these health professionals to in turn motivate their patients and clients to include mushrooms in their diets.
Apart from reviewing and consolidating research, specific project activities will include a revamp of the health and science section of the www.australianmushrooms.com.au website, presentations at relevant professional conferences, the distribution of materials such as brochures and e-newsletters, and other engagement activities for health professionals such as webinars and an expert roundtable event.
Watch this video below to hear from one of the researchers about the nutritional benefits of a diet including mushrooms:
In the second year of the project, the key theme is to hero the unique nutritional properties of mushrooms and to highlight that while mushrooms are neither a plant nor an animal, they do contain nutritional properties from both.
An article was published in the Medical Journal of Australia that encouraged health professionals to help their clients increase their vitamin D levels by advising them to ‘tan your mushrooms, not your skin’. You can read more about this research in the Hort Innovation media release here.
The project team have continued providing materials for the health and science section of the www.australianmushrooms.com.au website, along with the distribution of materials to health professionals such as e-newsletters.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 social distancing requirements have impacted the project’s plans to participate in a number of health professional related events during 2020.
In the first year of this project, mushrooms were showcased as nutritionally unique with a focus on sharing with GPs that mushrooms are a source of Vitamin D.
The project team completed the very first systematic literature review on mushrooms, and first-ever review on A. bisporus specifically. You can read more about the research in the Hort Innovation media release here, as well as access the literature review.
The project team also:
- Developed and distributed resources to health professionals, including a brochure on the role of mushrooms for vitamin D
- Provided the Hort Innovation Mushroom Fund marketing campaign with evidence-based key messages to back up their claims
- Engaged with health professionals across a variety of mediums such as EDMs, social media posts, presentations, webinars and other materials.
The project team has developed a three-year campaign proposal to educate health professionals on the nutritional properties and health benefits of mushrooms, as well as provide credibility to consumer messages. This campaign will support the wider objective of increasing the overall consumption of mushrooms in Australia.
The campaign proposal included a different theme for each year of the project:
- 2019 – ‘The mushroom multi: Mushrooms are nutritionally unique’ with a focus on Vitamin D (for General Practitioners)
- 2020 – ‘Not a plant, nor an animal: Mushrooms are associated with a wide range of health benefits’ highlighting the findings from the systemic literature review (for dietitians and nutritionists)
- 2021 – ‘More to mushroom than nutrition: Mushrooms taste great and are environmentally friendly’ with a focus on the culinary aspects of consuming mushrooms (for all other healthcare professionals).
To measure the effectiveness of the campaign, a research survey was designed for health professionals that will capture a baseline measurement of:
- Knowledge levels of the nutritional properties and health benefits of mushrooms
- Perception and opinion of mushrooms in the diet
- Behaviour and frequency around recommending mushrooms
To identify the best approach and the most up-to-date literature on mushrooms and health, a research scope was conducted, which searched scientific databases for studies on edible mushrooms (excluding extract) and health outcomes. The purpose of this scope was to identify the current research and determine the best approach for the systematic literature review, which is currently underway with over 5,000 titles and abstracts being investigated for inclusion.
This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Mushroom Fund