If you’re a mushroom fan, you will love oyster mushrooms. These tasty fungi not only have a delectable taste -- they are packed with vitamins and nutrients, making them a healthy addition to your diet.
About Oyster Mushrooms
As is true with all fungi, oyster mushrooms can usually be found growing on dead or decaying wood. The most active growing seasons for oyster mushrooms are in spring and fall. The caps of these mushrooms are large, capable of growing up to 10 inches in diameter. The caps are shaped like fans, or, as the name implies, oysters. When the oyster mushroom is young the cap is flat, but as it ages the cap turns up. These mushrooms are colorful, and can be found in white, yellow brown, tan and pink or a combination of these colors.
Oyster Mushrooms and Cholesterol
On the March 23 episode of "Dr. OZ," Dr. Mehmet Oz recommended the consumption of oyster mushrooms to lower cholesterol levels. He suggested individuals with high cholesterol eat a half cup of oyster mushrooms per day. You can eat them cooked or raw and experience the same effects.
Consuming oyster mushrooms can decrease cholesterol levels naturally, which can potentially reduce the need for prescription medication. Oyster mushrooms contain statins, which are typically taken in drug form to lower "bad" (LDL) cholesterol. Statins wake up receptors in the liver, which take in cholesterol to pass it through the liver much more readily to rid the body of cholesterol. While oyster mushrooms are effective in lowering cholesterol, those suffering from the condition should not reduce or cease the use of their cholesterol medication without consulting with their doctor.
The oyster mushroom is rich in nutrients, containing:
In addition to providing these essential vitamins and nutrients, oyster mushrooms are also:
Low in carbohydrates
Low in calories
Low in sodium
High in protein
High in fiber
Additional Health Benefits of Oyster Mushrooms
Not only can consuming oyster mushrooms help with high cholesterol, they can also play a role another two serious conditions:
Oyster mushrooms contain polysaccharides. Polysaccharides is a complex carbohydrate comprised of small sugar molecules. The Research Institute of Nutrition found polysaccharides can have a positive effect on tumors by inhibiting further growth. Polysaccharides also help to strengthen the immune system, which contributes to fighting cancer.
Also found in oyster mushrooms, terpenoids kill bacteria and viruses, producing an anti-inflammatory effect in the body.
With all of its nutritional content, the oyster mushroom also helps people with these ailments:
High or low blood pressure
How to Use Oyster Mushrooms
Oyster mushrooms are a versatile ingredient in the kitchen. Some people add them into stir-fry, while others sauté the mushrooms in olive oil and garlic. Replacing popular varieties like button and portobello mushrooms with oyster mushrooms is an easy, healthy switch that also enhances the flavor of soups and sauces.
Extracts of oyster mushroom can also be found in supplements. Taken in capsule form, these supplements can have the same effects on cholesterol as well as boosting the immune system. An average dose is two capsules day, containing 200 mg of oyster mushroom, taken with a full glass of water or a meal.
Potential Side Effects
Some people experience an allergic reaction to the spores of this type of mushroom. It’s also been reported that it can cause upset stomach, especially if eaten in large quantities. If you’ve never eaten oyster mushrooms before, start with a small amount to see how you react. If you see no effects from your first experience, gradually increase the amount you eat.