Skin & Hair

The facts at a glance


Low acne risk
Low Glycaemic Index (GI) foods – including mushrooms – can help keep blood glucose levels normal and thereby lower the risk of acne.


Essential Nutrients
Essential nutrients in mushrooms – selenium, copper, biotin, niacin and riboflavin – specifically help to keep skin and hair healthy.


Fresh is best
Eating plenty of fresh produce like mushrooms, vegetables and fruit is good for skin and hair health.


Key to healthy skin
A wholesome diet (including mushrooms), sensible sun exposure and not smoking are key to a healthy skin.


Fresh produce such as mushrooms, fruits and vegetables are very important for skin and hair health. Sadly, fewer than one person in 10 eats enough of these foods for good health, yet they are an inexpensive and effective way to look better. Three button mushrooms provides at least 25% of the key nutrients niacin, biotin, riboflavin, copper, chromium and selenium, all of which are very important for the health of your skin and hair.

Glycaemic Index and the skin

There is accumulating evidence that what you eat can contribute to pimples (acne). Many academics and researchers agree that a wholesome diet comprising mainly low GI foods has the greatest ability to control pimples. That is, a diet that has the least effect on blood glucose levels helps minimise acne (Bowe 2010; Davodici 2010).

From an eating perspective, it means less rice crackers and crispbreads, cornflakes, crumpets, and one-minute oats which tend to raise blood glucose levels quickly, and more fruit, legumes, nuts, muesli, All-Bran, vegetables, dairy foods, and of course mushrooms, all of which increase blood glucose gradually. In fact, the mushroom has virtually no effect on blood glucose.

Note that only carbohydrate containing foods have a GI. Foods without any carbohydrate do not have a GI eg meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, oils, butter and margarine. Mushrooms have very little carbohydrate, which is why they have a very low GI.

You may already have heard about GI. For example, people with diabetes are encouraged to have a diet low in GI. In really simple terms, foods that have been minimally processed commonly have a low GI, while those that are highly processed tend to have a high GI. That’s means that someone eating a wholesome diet is likely to put a lower glycaemic load on the body than someone a lot of highly processed foods. The GI of some example foods are given in the table below.

Low GI Medium GI High GI
Breads, cereals Multigrain bread, porridge, All-Bran, muesli Rye bread, pita bread Crispbreads, water crackers
Rice, pasta Pasta, spaghetti Gnocchi, Doongara rice Rice
Mushrooms All types
Vegetables, legumes Carrots, baked beans, chick peas Sweet potato, pumpkin Potato
Fruit Orange, banana, apple, pear Pineapple, cherries Watermelon
Dairy foods Milk, yogurt
Snacks Nuts, chocolate Muesli bars, potato chips Confectionery, biscuits, cereal bars
Spreads Marmalade Honey, golden syrup Glucose
Drinks Fruit juice Some soft drinks Sports drinks

Of course, many people are adamant that certain foods trigger their acne. It is quite plausible that for some people specific foods or greasy takeaways can change their skin condition the next morning.

Glowing skin without the sun exposure?

First, we know that sensible sun exposure can keep vitamin D at a healthy level well before it can cause skin damage. That might be five minutes a day during the warm part of the day in the summer and 30 minutes in the winter. Adequate vitamin D is important for good skin health. Not everyone can get some sun exposure during the day, so dietary vitamin D becomes important. Vitamin D can be found in oily fish, eggs, some fortified milks, and mushrooms that have been exposed to light. Normally mushrooms grow well in the dark, but if they receive some UV light they will generate vitamin D. Some farmers are now producing mushrooms with a day’s supply of vitamin D in a single serve.

If you are Caucasian with white skin then, believe it or not, your diet can change your skin colour, even making you more attractive according to one study (Whitehead 2012). Eating an extra three serves of fruit or vegetables increased the carotenoid levels in the skin. Carotenoids are compounds that provide a red/orange colour to fruits and vegetables. This gave the skin a more attractive colour when judged by other people. This is yet another great reason for eating more fruit and vegetables, along with your mushrooms.


  • Bowe WP. Joshi SS, Shalita AR. Diet and acne. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 2010; 63: 124-141
  • Davidovici BB, Wolf R. The role of diet in acne: facts and controversies. Clinics in Dermatology 2010; 28: 12-16
  • Whitehead RD, Re D, Xiao D, Ozakinci G, Perrett DI. You are what you eat: within-subject increases in fruit and vegetable consumption confer beneficial skin-color changes. PLoS ONE 2012; 7 (3): e32988. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0032988