The latest analysis techniques have enabled scientists at a US university to find previously uncharted fibres with advantages for cardiac health in commonly eaten mushrooms.

The group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that six mushroom varieties tested  were rich in total dietary fibres, including those associated with cholesterol-lowering (chitin) and healthy hearts (beta-glutan).

“It was already known that mushrooms offer high-quality protein, vitamins, unsaturated fatty acids and fibre, but a precise carbohydrate breakdown had been elusive,” the university said.

The Mushroom Council of Dublin, California, paid for the study and provided the samples. Last year the same researchers reported on the carbohydrate profile of plums and prunes, with funding from the California Dried Plum Board.

“What we’ve reported in these papers are the complete carbohydrate profiles of these two lines of popular foods,” said George C. Fahey Junior, professor of nutritional sciences in the department of animal sciences at Illinois. “These profiles include the digestible carbohydrates, the starches and the fermentable fibres that reach the large bowel. This work was important to the two commodity organizations that funded this research, because they had little information on these components.”