Mushrooms can fuel batteries, inspire tiny homes, be grown in diapers and even create building "sausages," which just might help construct the homes of tomorrow. Now they can also help with weight loss, according to a new study published in the journal Appetite.

It's been a good month for vegetarians. Last week, researchers announced that eating broccoli can improve your gut health. Now, a different study has shown that eating mushrooms for breakfast can lead to increased satiety over morning meals that contain meat, which can lead to the decrease in overall calorie consumption necessary for weight loss.

You no doubt know that eating protein is a good way to feel full. In fact, last month, researchers found out that some of the amino acids that make up protein may activate appetite-controlling receptors in the brain that signal satiety.

But while most people might think of meat when they think of protein, steaks and chops are not the only place to get it. Mushrooms also offer a dose of protein, and they do so without the potential disease-causing and life-shortening effects of a diet high in animal protein. A year-long study conducted by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that obese individuals who swapped mushrooms for meat lost an average of seven pounds, lowered their blood pressure, and reduced body fat and waist circumference.

In the new study, which notably was conducted by the Mushroom Council – a group that no doubt has a vested interest in promoting the benefits of edible fungi – 32 women and men were split into two groups. One group ate 226 grams of sliced white button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) twice a day while the other consumed 28 grams of meat twice a day. Those amounts contained equal amounts of protein, which proved significant in the study, with results showing that the people who included the mushrooms in their diets reported feeling significantly fuller and less hungry than the meat eaters. They also tended to eat less calories during the day if they started with the mushrooms in their breakfasts.

"Previous studies on mushrooms suggest that they can be more satiating than meat, but this effect had not been studied with protein-matched amounts until now," said gut health and satiety researcher and study author Joanne Slavin, PhD, RD, professor at the University of Minnesota. "As with previous published research, this study indicates there may be both a nutritional and satiating benefit to either substituting mushrooms for meat in some meals or replacing some of the meat with mushrooms."

In addition to providing protein, mushrooms also provide vitamin D, which is a rarity when it comes to the foods found in the produce aisle as it is most commonly found in fish, dairy, liver and eggs – which adds to its potential benefits as a meat substitute.

"This new study adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests mushrooms may aid weight management and satiety, and thus contribute to overall wellness," said Mary Jo Feeney, MS, RD, FADA and nutrition research coordinator to the Mushroom Council. "Consumers are interested in the benefits of protein food choices, so it's important for them to know that plant-based sources of protein, such as mushrooms, can be satisfying."

Source: Mushroom Council via EurekAlert