Now there's an even better reason to add fresh mushrooms to your breakfast omelet, noontime burger, or dinner salad. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in Albany, Calif., have teamed with Monterey Mushrooms, Inc., of Watsonville, Calif., to boost the vitamin D content of white, brown and portabella mushrooms.
Thanks to UV-B lightlike that in sunshinethe company's new Sun Bella line of fresh mushrooms offers at least 100 percent of the recommended intake of vitamin D in each 3-ounce serving.
An estimated 40 percent of Americans don't get enough vitamin D. The nutrient is essential for strong bones, properly functioning liver and kidneys, and a robust immune system. Some research suggests that vitamin D may reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and Alzheimer's disease.
The idea of using UV-B light to enhance mushrooms' vitamin D levels isn't new. But Tara H. McHugh, a research leader and food technologist at the ARS Western Regional Research Center in Albany, and colleagues at Monterey Mushrooms are likely the first to determine exactly how to best use UV-B rays for commercial-scale production of vitamin D-rich mushrooms.
McHugh did much of the work under terms of a research and development agreement with the company. Monterey Mushrooms recently introduced Sun Bella mushrooms in supermarkets nationwide.
An article in the June 2008 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry documents some of the ARS mushroom studies.
ARS is a scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.