Can You Eat Mushrooms Raw?

Fozia Sherazi, Dr of Dietetics and Nutritional Sciences

Written by Fozia Sherazi, Dr of Dietetics and Nutritional Sciences. Updated on March 12, 2023.

The mushroom is a certain fungi’s distinctive umbrella-shaped fruiting body (sporophore).

Although mushrooms are often mistaken for plants, they are part of the fungi kingdom and have unique characteristics.

These fungi are mainly of the order Agaricales in the phylum Basidiomycota, although they can also be found in several other groups.

The mushroom structure consists of a cap, or pileus, gills, or lamellae, on the underside of the cap, and a stalk, or stipe.

The cap can vary in size, shape, and color, but the gills are typically dark and release spores when they mature.

These spores are responsible for reproduction and are released by the mushroom when it reaches maturity.

The spores are spread through the air, and when they come into contact with a suitable substrate, they germinate, and the cycle continues.

There are many species of mushrooms, some edible and some inedible.

The edible sporophores are commonly referred to as mushrooms, whereas the inedible or toxic varieties are called toadstools.

Mushrooms originated in ancient times and have been used for various purposes, from food to medicine.

Mushrooms have been used for culinary and medicinal purposes for centuries. In addition to providing food, mushrooms have also been used in folk medicine to treat various ailments.

Their use in medicine can be traced back to Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician, who wrote about their medicinal properties in 400 BC.

While mushrooms have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, their culinary applications have become increasingly popular in recent years.

With the popularity of plant-based diets, mushrooms are used in various dishes, ranging from appetizers and side dishes to main courses.

The edible varieties of mushrooms include white button mushrooms, portobello mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, and cremini mushrooms.

These edible mushrooms have distinct flavors and textures, making them popular additions to salads, pasta, and other dishes.

Mushrooms can be consumed raw or cooked.

Can You Eat Mushrooms Raw?

Mushrooms can be eaten raw or cooked.

Raw mushrooms taste earthy and nutty, with a slightly crunchy texture, and can be added to salads, sandwiches, and other dishes for a unique flavor.

They pair well with asparagus, leeks, tomatoes, peas, garlic, and many other vegetables, as well as with sprouted grains.

Raw mushrooms may have an unpleasant flavor and texture, so many prefer to cook them before eating.

While some mushrooms, such as shiitake and button, can be eaten raw, most experts recommend cooking them to maximize the health benefits and enhance their flavor.

Cooking mushrooms helps break down their cell walls, releasing more nutrients and making them easier to digest.

However, since some species of mushrooms can contain toxins that are only destroyed by cooking, it is generally recommended that people consume cooked mushrooms instead.

Only mushrooms purchased from a reputable source should be eaten raw to ensure safety.

Preparing raw mushrooms for consumption should be washed thoroughly under running water to remove dirt and debris.

After the mushrooms are washed, they should be cut into smaller pieces and tossed into a bowl of cold, acidulated water for about 20 minutes before consumption.

You can make acidulated water by adding a small amount of vinegar or lemon juice to a bowl of cold water.

This helps get rid of any bacteria that might be on the mushrooms, making it safer to eat them raw.

After the mushrooms have been in the acidulated water for 20 minutes, remove them and drain off any excess liquid. Then, pat them dry with a clean towel and enjoy raw or cooked mushrooms as desired.

Mushrooms that are wilted or have changed color should be thrown away because they may have lost their nutritional value and may contain compounds that are harmful to humans.

Benefits of Eating Mushrooms Raw

Eating mushrooms raw can offer several benefits. Raw mushrooms have a crunchier texture and contain higher amounts of specific vitamins and minerals.

They also contain antioxidants, which can help protect your body from oxidative damage linked to many health conditions.

The following are the health benefits of eating mushrooms raw:

Antioxidant Properties

Eating raw mushrooms provides abundant antioxidants that can help protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals.

These antioxidants include selenium, vitamin B2, and ergothioneine, an antioxidant not found in many other food sources.

Anti-inflammatory Properties

Raw mushrooms also contain compounds, such as beta-glucans and chitin, that can help reduce inflammation.

Beta-glucans are found in the cell walls of mushrooms and are thought to modulate immune system activity, while chitin can help reduce levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

Additionally, mushrooms contain several antioxidants that can help protect the body from free radical damage and inflammation.

Anticancer Properties

Research suggests that some of the compounds in mushrooms may be beneficial in preventing and treating cancer.

Studies have found mushrooms can help suppress tumor growth and may even induce apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells.

In particular, compounds like ergothioneine, polysaccharides, and lectins have been studied for their anticancer effects.

Side Effects of Eating Mushrooms Raw

While mushrooms have potential health benefits, consuming them raw can be dangerous.

Uncooked mushrooms contain compounds that can harm humans, such as chitin, hemolysins, and tyramine.

Chitin is an indigestible fiber found in mushrooms, while hemolysins and tyramine can cause toxic reactions.

Consuming raw mushrooms may lead to digestive distress, such as cramping, bloating, and diarrhea. Some people may have allergic reactions to eating raw mushrooms, ranging from mild symptoms, such as a skin rash, to severe anaphylaxis.


Mushrooms are edible, umbrella-shaped sporophores that belong to the kingdom Fungi’s Basidiomycota and Agaricomycetes divisions.

Some varieties are edible, and some, called toadstools, are poisonous.

The edible varieties include a wide variety of species, from button mushrooms, portabellas, and shiitakes to puffballs, morels, and chanterelles.

Mushrooms have been known since ancient times for their medicinal and culinary properties. They can be eaten cooked or raw.

The health benefits of eating mushrooms include improved immunity, low inflammation, and a reduced risk of some types of cancer.

Furthermore, mushrooms are rich in vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins and potassium.

Eating mushrooms raw can have side effects such as gastrointestinal distress and an increased risk of food poisoning.

Raw mushrooms should be used with caution, as the toxins they contain can cause an allergic reaction in some people.

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