Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

A lesson in food swaps and mushrooms


Still getting caught up on my reading! It’s not at all timely, but I couldn’t resist writing about an article on Healthy holiday food swaps.

As dietitians we’re always looking for ways to tweak foods and choices to improve nutrition and, for many clients, reduce calories. Even so, articles like this bother me. I can’t quite put my finger on it but I think it has something to do with the notion that we can’t be healthy without depriving ourselves. You don’t have to eat sweet potatoes instead of mashed potatoes or pumpkin pie instead of pecan pie if you don’t like those choices. If you’re preparing the recipe yourself you can always make adjustments to boost nutrition and reduce calories. If not, you can still enjoy the foods you like at Christmas dinner, just have small portions. I’m a firm believer that you should enjoy your food.

Aside from my overarching issues with these “eat this, don’t eat that” types of articles, I also have an issue with a couple of the facts provided. One is the comparison of pumpkin pie to pecan pie. Perhaps, on average, pecan pie is more calorific than pumpkin pie. However, the number of calories is going to vary depending on the recipe. Also, when they provide the calories per slice there’s no indication of how large a slice they’re talking about. You could significantly reduce the calories by having half a slice.

My other issue: mushrooms. Yes, mushrooms can be a source of vitamin D (they’re the only plant source). However, they’re not exactly an “excellent” source as the article states. There’s about 7 IU in 100 grams (more than a cup) of fresh white mushrooms. The current recommendation is for those between the ages of 1-70 to consume 600 IU a day. Apparently, the level of vitamin D in mushrooms can be increased to meet our needs by exposure to UV light (1). As far as I’m aware this has yet to become standard procedure. Something else that’s important to note: the form of vitamin D in mushrooms is D2, recommended supplements contain D3 and research indicates that this form is more readily converted in the human body (2). Mushroom haters rejoice, vegans take heed: you might not want to turn to mushrooms for your vitamin D needs just yet.

Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people see food and nutrition from a different perspective and understand that nutrition and health are not necessarily a result of personal choice.

2 thoughts on “A lesson in food swaps and mushrooms

  1. That’s fascinating that mushrooms are the only plant source of vitamin D. Since they are known for growing in the dark, I wonder if they get it only from exposure to light? Interesting.


    • I thought so too! Definitely a recent development; I never learned about it in school. It seems to occur only when they’re exposed to UV light so I wouldn’t rely on them as a good source.


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