Monday, July 8, 2013

Oyster Mushrooms Help Fight Disease

by guest blogger Jody Perrecone

Oyster mushrooms are a mild tasting mushroom that grows on the trunks of trees.  This, along with many other mushroom varieties, have many healthy antioxidants that may help to reduce the risk of cancer, improve blood cholesterol, and boost the immune system [1].

Oyster mushrooms contain complex carbohydrates called polysaccharides that stimulate the immune system to fight cancer. They can up-regulate (turn on) the genes which stop tumors from growing and support tumor regression [2].

Eating oyster mushrooms can lower cholesterol, reduce triglycerides, and have antioxidant properties that fight oxidized LDL. Unique to the oyster mushroom is the lowering cholesterol molecule lovastatin [3], which inhibits the production of cholesterol.  In a study published in the “Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology” in 2003, rats with high and normal cholesterol were fed oyster mushrooms.  Total cholesterol was reduced 28%, LDL (bad cholesterol) by 55%, triglycerides by 34% and HDL (good cholesterol) increased 21%.

Oyster mushrooms protect cells and build immunity and have antioxidant and antibacterial properties. In addition to being high in B vitamins, the calcium, phosphorus, and iron found in oyster mushrooms is nearly double the amount found in meat. 

Foraging your own mushrooms can be deadly if you don’t know what you are doing.  Look for mushrooms in the grocery store that are evenly colored and firm.  They keep best stored in a paper bag in the refrigerator.  When ready to use, wipe mushrooms clean with a damp cloth, trim the bottom of the stem, and sauté in vegetable stock. Oyster mushrooms can be included or substituted in just about any recipe that calls for mushrooms including soups, stuffings, rice or pasta dishes, or made into a tea. 

Jody Perrecone is a corporate manager for the Coronary Health Improvement Project (CHIP). CHIP is an international wellness program focusing on lifestyle interventions to create a healthier workforce and reduce overall healthcare costs. Jody works with hospitals, corporations, and communities to offer CHIP programs throughout the U.S.

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Photo credit: Stu Phillips (Wikimedia Commons)

Gunde-Cimerman  N, Friedrich J, Cimerman A, Beni Ki N.  “Screening for fungi for th production of an inhibitor of HMG-CoA reductas—production of mevinolin by the fungi of the genus Pleurotus.”  FEMS Microbiol Lett 1993; 111: 203-6.

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