Medicinal Mushrooms for Cholesterol:Can These Fungi Lower Your LDL Levels?
For centuries, mushrooms have been used for their various health benefits. However, there has been growing interest in their potential to lower cholesterol levels recently. While more research is needed to confirm these effects, certain types of mushrooms have been shown to have cholesterol-lowering properties. Here, we'll explore the potential cholesterol-lowering effects of medicinal mushrooms.
Shiitake mushrooms are an edible medicianl mushroom and a popular ingredient in many Asian dishes and traditional medicine. They contain a compound called eritadenine, which has been shown to have cholesterol-lowering effects. Eritadenine works by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase, which plays a crucial role in the production of cholesterol in the body. By inhibiting this enzyme, eritadenine can help reduce LDL (aka "bad") cholesterol levels in the blood.
For centuries, Reishi mushrooms have been used in traditional Chinese medicine. They contain compounds called triterpenes, which have been shown to have cholesterol-lowering effects. Triterpenes work by inhibiting cholesterol absorption in the intestines, reducing the amount of cholesterol that enters the bloodstream.
Chaga mushrooms are a type of mushroom that grows on birch trees and across the globe, used in traditional medicine. They contain antioxidants and other compounds that may have cholesterol-lowering effects. In one study, chaga mushroom extract showed a reduction in levels of LDL cholesterol and an increase in levels of HDL or "good" cholesterol.1
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Lion's Mane Mushrooms
Lion's mane mushrooms are a type of mushroom that has a unique appearance, with white, shaggy spines that resemble a lion's mane. They are a good source of beta-glucans, one of the most abundant types of polysaccharides found inside the cell wall of the fungus and have been shown to have cholesterol-lowering effects. Beta-glucans bind to bile acids in the intestine, reducing the amount of cholesterol reabsorbed into the bloodstream.
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In addition to these mushrooms, other types of medicinal mushrooms, such as maitake and cordyceps, may also have cholesterol-lowering effects. While more research is needed to confirm these effects, incorporating these mushrooms into your diet or taking medicinal mushroom supplements may be a natural and safe way to help manage cholesterol levels.
It's important to note that while medicinal mushrooms may have cholesterol-lowering effects, they should not be relied upon as the sole method for lowering cholesterol. A healthy lifestyle and balanced diet are vital to managing cholesterol levels. Talk to you doctor if you have high cholesterol, before making any dietary changes or starting new supplements.
1."Inonotus obliquus (Chaga mushroom) extract induces G1 cell cycle arrest and suppresses angiogenesis in human umbilical vein endothelial cells" by Kim et al. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2019.