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Completed project

Scientific basis for a mushroom food group in the Australian Dietary Guidelines (MU22001)

Key research provider: Australian Mushroom Growers’ Association
Publication date: Tuesday, December 5, 2023

What was it all about?

In 2023, this short project reviewed and collated the scientific evidence base to support mushrooms (fungi) being classified as a separate food group within the Australian Dietary Guidelines.

Based on scientific evidence, the Australian Dietary Guidelines provide up-to-date information about the amounts and kinds of foods to eat for health and well-being. The current (2013) guidelines are under review and due for update in 2025. 

A literature review and dietary modelling provided evidence to advocate for mushrooms to be their own subcategory within a revamped ‘vegetable, legumes/beans, and mushrooms’ food group.

There are over 2000 varieties of edible mushrooms. The most frequently consumed mushrooms in Australia are common (Agaricus bisporus species) mushrooms, including white button (the most frequently consumed mushroom in Australia and worldwide), swiss brown, cup, flat, and portobello varieties.

In the current guidelines, mushrooms are categorised in the ‘vegetables and legumes/beans’ food group. This food group is divided into five subcategories: ‘dark green or cruciferous/brassica’, ‘orange vegetables’, ‘root/tubular/bulb’, ‘legumes/beans’ and ‘other vegetables’. Mushrooms are placed in the ‘other vegetables’ subcategory, including many salad vegetables such as tomato, beetroot, and cucumber. 

However, mushrooms are fungi, not vegetables, and have a unique nutritional composition, including being the only natural, non-animal dietary source of vitamin D. In addition, mushrooms lack some of the characterising nutrients of the vegetable core food group, such as vitamin C. Therefore, mushrooms have the potential to make a unique contribution to dietary nutrient intakes.

Significant opportunities can be realised from the reclassification of mushrooms within the vegetable core food group. Increased awareness of the nutritional benefits of mushrooms and exposure to mushrooms as their subcategory, distinct from vegetables, may support increased consumption of mushrooms over time and provide improved health and nutritional benefits for the Australian population. This change could also be a stepping-stone for establishing a new core food group of “mushrooms/fungi” in future Australian Dietary Guidelines updates.

Related levy funds

This project was a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Mushroom Fund