Used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, the grey oyster mushroom – one of the edible mushrooms from Pleurotus family – is thought to have numerous health benefits. Mushroom consumption is becoming an increasingly popular recommendation amongst integrative therapists due to their high nutritional value. Grey oyster mushrooms are low in calories, salt, fat, and cholesterol, and rich in fibre, vitamins, and minerals, amongst other beneficial compounds .
This impressive nutritional profile means that grey oyster mushrooms have a broader impact on overall well-being and immunological health. This is also down to their substantial anti-oxidative action. Here, we present an overview of the key facts from some recent research on the variety’s benefits.
The Immunological Value of Beta-Glucans
Grey oyster mushrooms are rich in biologically active polysaccharides that mostly belong to a group of sugars known as beta-glucans. These substances have been found to increase host immune strength by activating the complement system and enhancing natural killer cell function. This is likely because of their activation of various cell surface receptors, lactosylceramides, and scavenger receptors . They are also thought to have anti-carcinogenic properties .
Beta-glucans’ stimulation of scavenger receptors is partly what gives grey oyster mushrooms their potent antioxidant properties. By scavenging free radicals, these nutrients prevent cell damage and reduce oxidative stress. As a result, this variety of mushroom also has anti-ageing potential as well as immunological benefits.
Furthermore, grey oyster mushrooms are a potent source of prebiotics. In a study investigating the in vitro prebiotic potential of Ganoderma lucidum and Pleurotus ostreatus (oyster mushrooms), it was concluded that the treatments had a positive effect on prebiotic microbe populations. After gut microbiota analysis (qPCR), the quanitity of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and 24 h-prebiotic both increased .
The Antioxidant Action of Grey Oyster Mushrooms
The potent antioxidant content of grey oyster mushrooms, and thus their immunological action, has been demonstrated in recent studies. In a study conducted at Universiti Sains, Malaysia, researchers used the DPPH method to determine the free radical scavenging activity of mushroom extracts. According to their research, the scavenging activity of the samples varied from 64.51- 89.29% and increased with concentration. Thus, the researchers concluded that commonly cultivated Pleurotus sajor-caju is indeed high antioxidant activity and can be considered as a functional food with health benefits .
Findings such as these provide a scientific basis for what has commonly believed to be the case in Eastern medicine for over a millennium. With further evidence emerging that grey oyster mushrooms also inhibit malignant cell proliferation and the growth of some tumours, this variety of mushrooms is increasingly seen to have long-term immunological benefits .
Mushrooms as Part of an Immune Supporting Diet
Grey oyster mushrooms are packed with compounds that support immune health. With a highly beneficial nutritional profile and powerful, immune-supporting beta-glucans, mushrooms are increasingly accepted as a valuable dietary supplement. With new studies emerging all the time about their antioxidant content and nutritional value, the practice of mycology (the prescription of medicinal mushrooms) is set to gain greater prominence in integrative therapy.
Furthermore, oyster mushrooms are easily incorporated as part of an anti-oxidant rich diet. With a delicious flavour and great versatility, reaping the health benefits of grey oyster mushrooms is easy. Moreover, mushroom extracts and powders can be taken in capsules or added to coffee or smoothies without compromising the flavour. There’s plenty of options to encourage patients to incorporate mushrooms into their diet as part of a holistic approach to health – so it’s certainly interesting to stay abreast of developments in the field.
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