10 Fascinating Facts About Our Fungi-Derived Mycoprotein

To celebrate the 10th UK Fungus Day on 7th October 2023 – a day centred around the marvels of the fungal kingdom - we’re sharing 10 fascinating facts about our nutritious fungi-based protein, Quorn mycoprotein.

1. Quorn mycoprotein is fungi-derived but it’s not made from mushrooms

The main ingredient in Quorn mycoprotein - Fusarium venenatum - is actually a filamentous fungus from the ascomycete fungi family and they don’t have fruiting bodies, whereas common mushrooms are from the Basidiomycetes fungi family and they do have fruiting bodies. Fusarium venenatum naturally occurs in the soil and was first identified in 1967 in a garden in Marlow, Buckinghamshire.

2. The name mycoprotein comes from the Greek language

‘Myco’ is derived from the Greek root μύκης (mykes), meaning fungus. Although secretly we would love it to have been named after someone called Mike O’Protein!

3. Quorn mycoprotein is made by biomass fermentation

Which is different from traditional fermentation or precision fermentation. Biomass fermentation uses the high protein content and fast growth inherent to microorganisms (and in the case of Quorn mycoprotein, Fusarium venenatum) to generate large quantities of protein. Check out this page from the Good Food Institute to read more about the Science of Fermentation.

4. Quorn mycoprotein isn’t technically ‘plant’ based

As fungi sits in a kingdom of its own, distinct from both the animal and plant kingdoms. When talking about protein groups we should really be including fungi as a third protein group and mycoprotein should be recognised as a source of fungi-based protein, not plant-based protein.

5. Quorn mycoprotein has distinct environmental benefits

Producing protein through fermentation is more efficient and far more sustainable than protein derived from animals. Quorn mycoprotein has a significantly smaller carbon footprint and requires less land and water resources than livestock production. Compared to beef, producing Quorn mycoprotein emits at least 35 times less carbon, requires at least 13.5 times less water and 5.5 times less land.1 Find out more about the exciting developments and innovations helping to make Quorn even more sustainable in our Net Positive Report.

6. Quorn mycoprotein is a complete protein

Meaning it provides all nine of the essential amino acids that cannot be produced by the body in physiologically significant amounts, and therefore must be consumed through the diet. It also has a Protein Digestibility-Corrected Amino Acid score (PDCAAS) - the FAO/WHO preferred method for the measurement of protein value - of 0.992, compared to beef at 0.92 and pea protein at 0.82.3

7. Quorn mycoprotein can stimulate muscle protein synthesis rates to a greater extent than milk protein

In rested and post-exercised skeletal muscle, when matched for leucine.4,5, Quorn mycoprotein is also one of the only vegan protein sources where ingestion has been shown to acutely stimulate muscle protein synthesis rates to a comparable extent as an animal-derived comparator.

8. Quorn mycoprotein provides an excellent source of fibre

With 6g of fibre per 100g. In particular, Quorn mycoprotein includes fibres called beta-glucan and chitin - although the beta-glucan is different in structure to that found in grains. For more about fungi and fibre read our blogs on Teasing out the fibres and 5 fantastic facts about fungi & fibre that will WOW your clients from Registered Dietitians, Dr Franke Phillips and Catherine Rabess, respectively.

9. Quorn mycoprotein is a source of several micronutrients

Including riboflavin, folate, phosphorous, zinc, choline and manganese. For more about the role of micronutrients and the nutritional profile of Quorn mycoprotein, check out our Micronutrient Profile factsheet.

10. Quorn mycoprotein has been shown to lower circulating cholesterol concentrations

Suggesting a potential key role to play in heart health. Quorn mycoprotein is low in total and saturated fat and contains no cholesterol. A recent meta-analysis, comparing individuals consuming mycoprotein versus those consuming a non-mycoprotein control across nine trials, reported an overall reduction in total cholesterol.⁶

Let's celebrate the intriguing world of mycoprotein and its potential to contribute significantly to how we approach nutrition and sustainability. Your knowledge of Quorn mycoprotein's science, research, and nutritional profile can contribute to more informed dietary choices for your patients and a more sustainable future. Here's to a fungi-filled world of health and sustainability!

¹Data source: UK specific data for beef, Quorn Footprint Comparison Report (The Carbon Trust, 2022) - https://www.quorn.co.uk/assets/files/content/Carbon-Trust-Comparison-Report-2022.pdf
²Edwards, D. and Cummings, J. 2010. The protein quality of Quorn mycoprotein. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. [online]. 69(OCE4). Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/240451638_The_protein_quality_of_mycoprotein.
³Schaafsma, G., 2000. The Protein Digestibility–Corrected Amino Acid Score. The Journal of Nutrition, [online]. 130(7), pp.1865S-7S. Available at: https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/130/7/1865S/4686203
⁴Monteyne, A.J et al. 2020. A mycoprotein-based high-protein vegan diet supports equivalent daily myofibrillar protein synthesis rates compared with an isonitrogenous omnivorous diet in older adults: a randomised controlled trial. British Journal of Nutrition. [online]. pp.1-11. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33172506/.
⁵Monteyne, AJ et al. 2020. Quorn mycoprotein ingestion stimulates protein synthesis rates to a greater extent than milk protein in rested and exercised skeletal muscle of healthy young men: a randomized controlled trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. [online]. 112(2), pp.318-333. Available at: https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/112/2/318/5841182.
⁶Shahid M et al. (2023). The effect of mycoprotein intake on biomarkers of human health: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. [online] 118(1):141-150. Available at: https://ajcn.nutrition.org/article/S0002-9165(23)46302-2/fulltext#articleInformation

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