You know what your favorite meat substitutes hide. Few people realize that mycoprotein, the ingredient that is often found in popular vegan products such as chicken nuggets, chops and hamburgers, is actually a type of unicellular fungus that has been highly processed, mixed with other ingredients and textured to mimic the flavor and texture of the meat. But is mycoprotein safe? Or should I completely omit this controversial ingredient and opt for other meat substitutes? This is what you need to know and why you may want to review the ingredient labels on some of your products.
What is Mycoprotein?
So what is mycoprotein made of and where can it be found? Mycoprotein is a type of unicellular protein that is derived from fungi and is produced for human consumption. The word “mico” actually comes from the Greek word for “fungus.” It is made by fermenting a type of micro fungus called Fusarium venenatum. The fermented solids are combined with egg whites, wheat protein and other ingredients, then textured in ways similar to meat and packaged as meat substitutes. In fact, it is often added to vegan mycoprotein products because it is high in protein and fiber, but low in calories. However, despite the potential health benefits, products containing this protein remain controversial due to safety concerns and possible allergenic effects.
Potential Benefits of Mycoprotein:
- Promote weight loss
- Support digestive health
- Complete protein
- Lowers cholesterol
- Regulates blood sugar
1. Promotes Weight Loss:
- Mycoprotein is rich in protein and fiber but low in calories, which is the perfect combination if you are looking to lose some extra weight.
- Increasing your protein intake can help increase satiety and decrease levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone.
- According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, increasing protein intake by just 15 percent reduced the average daily caloric intake by 441 calories and also produced significant reductions in weight and body fat.
- Meanwhile, fiber can also help reduce appetite. It moves slowly through the digestive system, helping to keep it feeling fuller for longer to avoid cravings.
- Several studies have directly observed the effects of mycoprotein on weight loss. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that eating a meal that contained this protein reduced caloric intake by 10 percent compared to a meal that contained chicken.
- Another study from the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom had similar results, noting that mycoprotein worked by increasing satiety and reducing appetite.
2. Support Digestive Health:
- Mycoprotein is an excellent source of fiber, which contains about six grams of fiber per 100 grams, which is up to 24 percent of the fiber you need throughout the day.
- Fiber can have a beneficial effect on several aspects of health, but it can be especially useful for promoting digestive health.
- A 2012 review compiled the results of five studies and showed that the increase in fiber intake was effective in increasing the frequency of bowel movements in people with constipation.
- Dietary fiber can also have a protective effect against conditions that affect the digestive tract, such as intestinal ulcers and inflammatory bowel disease.
3. Complete Protein:
- A distinctive advantage that nutrition with mycoproteins has over other types of meat substitutes is that it is considered a complete protein.
- This means that it contains all the essential amino acids that cannot be produced by your body and need to be obtained through dietary sources.
- Getting enough protein in your diet is absolutely essential to maintain your overall health.
- Proteins not only form the basis of hair, skin, nails, muscles and bones, but are also necessary to help build and repair tissues, produce important enzymes and synthesize certain hormones.
- A protein deficiency can have deleterious effects on your health, resulting in symptoms such as a slow metabolism, damaged immune function, slow wound healing and difficulty losing weight.
- People who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet have an even higher risk of protein deficiency, especially if the diet is not well planned.
4. Lowers Cholesterol:
- Cholesterol is a substance similar to fat found throughout the body that forms the membrane of cells and helps in the synthesis of bile acids and hormones.
- However, excess cholesterol can accumulate in the blood vessels, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke over time.
- Some promising research has found that mycoprotein can help keep your cholesterol levels under control to reduce your risk of heart disease.
- A study from the University of London showed that mycoprotein was able to reduce total cholesterol levels by 13 percent, reduce bad LDL cholesterol by 9 percent and increase good HDL cholesterol by 12 percent.
5. Regulates Blood Sugar:
- High blood sugar levels can have some quite serious side effects.
- If left unchecked, maintaining high blood sugar levels in the long term can lead to an increased risk of skin conditions, nerve damage and kidney problems.
- Mycoprotein is high in fiber, which can slow the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream and keep blood sugar under control.
- A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the effects of mycoprotein on blood sugar and found that consuming a shake that contained it was actually able to reduce blood sugar by up to 36 percent compared to a group. of control.
Dangers and Side Effects of Mycoproteins:
- Although it has been associated with a number of potential health benefits, there are some serious side effects of mycoprotein that must also be taken into account.
- In fact, organizations have been pushing for stricter regulations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help warn consumers of the potential risks of consuming mycoproteins since at least 2002.
- Multiple people have suffered serious reactions as a result of an allergy to mycoproteins, which can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and hives.
- According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, at least 2,000 reports have been collected from consumers who suffered allergic reactions, and even two deaths have been linked to the consumption of products containing mycoproteins.
- Actually, allergies to mycoproteins could be quite common; An unpublished study even found that ten percent of participants experienced symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or stomach ache as a result of eating products with mycoproteins, compared with just five percent in the control group.
- The problem with mycoprotein against soy, shellfish, peanuts and wheat is that mycoprotein is not a well-known allergen, which means that many people probably don’t even realize they can be allergic until it’s too much. late.
- Most also do not know what mycoprotein is, and unfortunately, food manufacturers have not always been frank in offering an explanation on the label of their products.
- After all, mushrooms are quite down the list when it comes to appetizing ingredients.
- Many consumers also mistakenly believe that mycoprotein can be derived from other nutritious varieties of fungi, such as lion’s hair fungus, cordyceps or reishi mushroom.
- However, as of 2017, Quorn, the leading manufacturer of mycoprotein products, agreed to make the ingredients of its products clearer by stating directly on the label: “Mycoprotein is a mold (member of the fungus family). There have been rare cases of allergic reactions to products containing mycoproteins ».
- This occurs as a result of a class action settlement that was filed on behalf of any person who had suffered such allergic reactions to products containing mycoproteins.
Foods with Mycoproteins:
- Mycoprotein is most commonly found in Quorn products, a brand of meat substitutes that includes a variety of products ranging from Quorn chicken nuggets to hamburgers and sausages.
- Keep in mind that mycoprotein is different from other types of fungi, such as psilocybin mushrooms, turkey tail mushrooms and chaga mushrooms.
- These fungi are a type of fungus, but the mycoprotein is made from a microscopic fungus that has been paired with a mixture of other ingredients.
- In addition, although they belong to the same family of fungi, Fusarium venenatum looks very different from the common fungi that most of us know.
Mycoprotein vs. Meat:
- So how does mycoprotein compare in popular meat substitutes with meat?
- In terms of taste, the two are quite comparable. Foods with mycoproteins are specifically designed to mimic the taste and texture of real meat, and get closer than some other meat substitutes, such as tempeh or seitan.
- From the nutritional point of view, both are considered complete proteins, but mycoprotein products actually have less protein than meat.
- A 100 gram serving of chicken, for example, contains approximately 31 grams of protein, while a 100 gram serving of a meatless chicken product made with mycoprotein contains less than half, with only 13.8 grams of protein.
- However, while meat lacks fiber, mycoprotein contains a fairly large portion in each serving. Not only can this benefit your digestive health, it can also help keep you full and keep your appetite under control.
Where to Find and How to Use Mycoprotein?
- Mycoprotein is found mainly in Quorn products, which are available in many forms, including vegetarian chicken chops, meatless sausages and vegetarian burgers.
- This brand is widely available in most major grocery stores, typically found along with other vegetarian products in the frozen section.
- If you are able to tolerate mycoprotein without any adverse effects, you can easily change these foods in your diet instead of meat to increase the protein and fiber content of your meals.
- You can also incorporate them into your favorite recipes, including salads, tacos, stews, skewers, pasta and curry dishes for a main course without meat.
Recipes and Mycoprotein Alternatives:
If you prefer to skip mycoprotein, there are many meatless alternatives that you can start incorporating into your diet.
“Fungi are an excellent meat substitute in most recipes due to their rich flavor and fleshy texture”.
Mushroom protein and its unique nutritional properties are also a healthy and nutritious addition to your favorite meatless recipes. In particular, certain types of mushrooms, such as Portobello mushrooms, cremini mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms and porcini mushrooms, are popular ingredients in many vegetarian recipes. In addition to mushrooms, other healthy meat substitutes that you can start incorporating into your daily diet include tempeh, natto, jackfruit, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Here are Some Simple Recipes that You Can Use Instead of Mycoprotein to Offer a Good Dose of Meatless Protein:
- Meatloaf with mushrooms
- Vegetarian ceviche with mushrooms
- BBQ Korean Jackfruit Tacos
- Black Bean Burger
- Vegetarian Chicken Wings
Mycoprotein was originally discovered in the 1960s by Rank Hovis McDougall, an English food company that has been around since 1875. More than 3,000 species of fungi were examined during the search for a source of cheap, sustainable, nutritious and palatable protein for human consumption, which eventually led to the identification of mycoprotein, a fungus that managed to meet all the criteria. However, after its discovery, there was significant concern about the potential negative health effects of this protein, and it went through a 12-year trial process until it could actually be sold in the market. Today, although it has been the subject of a good deal of controversy, the products that contain it have become popular meat substitutes due to their versatility, protein content and flavor.
- Many people have reported adverse effects to mycoprotein, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and hives.
- Most people who try mycoprotein products are also unaware that they are allergic, and it is believed that an allergy may even develop over time, although more studies are needed on possible allergenic effects.
- If you decide to consume food products that contain mycoprotein, first consume a small amount to assess your tolerance and be sure to inform your doctor immediately of any food allergy symptoms.
- If you follow a plant-based diet, be sure to also include a variety of other plant-based protein foods in your diet to meet your micronutrient needs, such as tempeh, natto, legumes and nuts.
- Mycoprotein is an ingredient found in many vegetarian meat substitutes.
- It is made by fermenting a type of microscopic fungus and then combining the solids with egg whites, wheat protein and other ingredients before texturing it in the form of meat.
- It is low in calories but high in fiber and is considered a complete protein. It can help improve digestive health, promote weight loss, reduce cholesterol and regulate blood sugar.
- One of its main disadvantages is that it has been shown to cause adverse reactions in many individuals who may not have realized they were allergic.
- Due to the protein of fungi, fungi are a great substitute for meat. Other healthy meat substitutes include natto, tempeh, natto, nuts and seeds.
- If you decide to try mycoprotein, be sure to pay close attention to any adverse symptoms and check with your doctor if you have any concerns.