Mushrooms are phenomenally versatile organisms. Some are delicious, some are remarkable medicine, and some are both.
When it comes to mushrooms to lower cholesterol, you can have your mushroom and eat it too!
It is important to consult your physician before beginning a mushrooms products particularly if you are taking cholesterol medication.
How can mushrooms lower cholesterol?
Mushrooms are inherently good at lowering cholesterol due to their high fiber and protein content. Other mushrooms have phytochemicals that help to reduce high cholesterol.
Mushrooms make great protein substitutes for high cholesterol foods. For example in Asian cuisine, mushrooms are often mixed in a meat dish which reduces the amount of meat that is eaten and adds flavor.
Shiitake mushrooms in particular have cholesterol lowering abilities as medicinal mushrooms.1 This ability to reduce cholesterol is due to eritadenine, a component of shiitake. Eritadenine helps to increase the excretion of cholesterol which can lower circulating levels in the blood.
In one study, 9 grams of dried shitake mushrooms eaten daily lead to a reduction of 9-12% of total cholesterol. Triglycerides were reduced by 6-7%. Because shiitake are not known to containing lovastatin, the active constituent in most cholesterol medication, it is safe to eat them if you are taking medication.
Shiitake have a particularly high percentage of protein and robust flavor which makes it a great meat substitute.
Oyster mushrooms are very healthy and delicious. They’ve been touted for their cholesterol lowering capabilities because they naturally contain small amounts of lovastatin, the cholesterol lowering chemical that is widely used in cholesterol medication.
Oyster mushrooms also have a wide range of anti inflammatory and hepatoprotective effects as well as the ability to reduce blood glucose levels. 1,2 This is why oyster mushrooms are a great way to improve overall health and protect against the deleterious effects of high cholesterol.
Red Yeast Rice
In nature, there are many strains of lovastatin, and the most potent comes from another fungus called Red Yeast Rice. Red yeast rice is used as the red dye for the famous dish Peking Duck.
1. Powell M. Medicinal Mushrooms: A Clinical Guide. Mycology Press. September 2010.
2. Khatun K, Mahtab H, Khanam PA, et.al. Oyster mushroom reduced blood glucose and cholesterol in diabetic subjects. KA.Mymensingh Med J. 2007 Jan;16(1):94-9.