We all know that Oyster Mushrooms are delicious, but did you know that they can lower your cholesterol? According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2011-2012, 78 million U.S. adults had high enough cholesterol that experts would suggest that they take cholesterol medicine. High cholesterol affects people at different rates depending upon sex and ethnic group; according to research done by the CDC, high cholesterol affects men and women at about the same percentage in hispanic and asian populations, however in african american and white populations the percentage of women affected is 4-6% higher than men. This high cholesterol raises the risk for heart disease and stroke, the leading cause and fifth leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, statistics show that about 900,000 people die of heart disease annually. Similarly, age can also affect the health of your heart, as it tends to affect everything. The average age that heart disease begins to become a problem in both men and women (though men tend to develop it earlier) is 65. So, ideally while you will want to be aware of your risk from an early age, the age that you should really become aware of preventative steps you can take is in your 40’s and 50’s.
According to leading medical professionals at hospitals like the Mayo Clinic, there are various preventative steps that you can take to avoid high cholesterol including maintaining a healthy diet, a healthy weight, exercising regularly, relieving stress, and abstaining from smoking. However, aside from the obvious, there exists another fantastic step that you can take to naturally avoid high cholesterol and that is eating oyster mushrooms. This may seem bizarre, but the truth is oyster mushrooms naturally produce a compound that is used sometimes as a cholesterol medication, called Lovastatin. Lovastatin has been proven to be an effective compound in controlling the levels of cholesterols that are found in your system.
In your body there are two kinds of cholesterol that occur naturally; LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol and HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is what is typically referred to as bad cholesterol or “bad fats”. When deciding what to eat, we often hear the saying, “make sure you are eating the ‘good fats’ not the ‘bad’ ones” and will sometimes avoid foods all together that contain LDL cholesterol. Some examples of foods that contain LDL cholesterol can include animal fat, coconut and palm oil, lard and butter, beef, pork, and lamb, heavy cream, butter, cheese, and whole milk. Whereas foods that contain HDL cholesterol include sunflower oil, olive oil, corn oil, soybean oil, canola oil, and fish. Additionally, plants such as wheat, bran, peanuts, beets, cashews, walnuts, and oranges are high in HDL cholesterol.
Now, it’s not that LDL cholesterol is inherently bad for you, your body creates it naturally and a balance of LDL and HDL cholesterol are necessary for healthy body function however, too much LDL cholesterol can cause an increased risk for heart attack and stroke due to the buildup of plaque it can cause in your arteries. Just like anything in life, moderation is one way to control your LDL levels, making changes in your diet is a great way to start working toward a middle ground. However, if your family has a history of high cholesterol and you want to be particularly attentive about what you can do to keep your cholesterol normal without medication, you may want to start eating some oyster mushrooms. Oyster Mushrooms and the compound they produce (Lovastatin), not only decrease the amount of LDL cholesterol, but research has shown that they can also increase the amount of HDL cholesterol. The way Lovastatin works is it blocks a certain enzyme that is needed to produce cholesterol, effectively reducing the amount of it in the blood stream.
People who already have high cholesterol typically will take concentrated lovastatin pills instead of eating oyster mushrooms to see a larger result in a smaller amount of time. However if you are only experiencing a minor elevation in cholesterol or simply trying to be preventative, oyster mushrooms are a fantastic alternative.
Oyster mushrooms come in a wide variety of species and tastes, however if you’ve eaten an oyster mushroom at a restaurant, it was probably Pleurotus ostreatus or Pleurotus pulmonarius as those are by far the most popular. Not only do they help with high cholesterol, but oyster mushrooms also contain high levels of protein and vitamin B (reduces risk for heart disease), along with; fiber (lowers risk for strokes), antioxidants (prevents build-up of plaque in arteries), linoleic acid, Vitamin C, Vitamin D (lowers blood pressure), Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium (lowers LDL cholesterol and regulates heart rhythm), Iron, Amino Acids, Niacin, and Copper (reduces LDL cholesterol and helps heart and arteries function properly). Additionally, if that wasn’t good enough, they are also cholesterol free, fat free, and low in carbs, calories, and sodium.
Oyster mushrooms can be difficult to grow at home given the finicky nature of fungi, however you can often find them at the grocery store, or get them directly from your local mushroom growers. Sonoran Mushroom Company is a local, family owned and operated mushroom farm located in Tucson, AZ with a wide variety of oyster mushroom options including the trademark Bacon Mushroom. As difficult as it is to grow mushrooms on a large scale in the desert, Sonoran has figured out the perfect formula and produces a variety of species including: the Pink Oyster (Pleurotus salmoneo stramineus), Italian Oyster (Pleurotus pulmonarius), Pohu Oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus), Gelone Oyster (Pleurotus osteatus), Blue Oyster and Columbus Oyster (Pleurotus columbinus), Elm Oyster (Hypsizygus ulmarius), King Oyster (Pleurotus eryngii), and White Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus). Sonoran sells both fresh and dried oyster mushrooms in wholesale orders to chefs, vegans, and foodies all over Southern Arizona.
If you would like to check out this season’s harvest and get started lowering your cholesterol in the natural way, make sure to check out our products page!
Author: Chelsea Hoel