Could mushrooms help improve high blood pressure?

A new study has found that adding mushrooms to your diet can improve high blood sugar levels.

For many, staying on top of heart health is a top concern. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that heart disease remains the number one cause of death in the United States – ahead of cancer and COVID-19 – by finding ways to maintain factors that affect heart health like heart disease. hypertension, or high blood pressure, in control is the key.

Now, new research has revealed that adding a commonly accessible ingredient to your diet may help lower blood pressure levels – mushrooms. A review published in Phytotherapy research sheds light on how incorporating edible mushrooms into your diet could improve hypertension.

The authors note that much has been written about the health benefits of these fungal ingredients, but it has often been “difficult to fully understand the role of mushrooms as dietary interventions in the relief of hypertension and other cardiovascular dysfunctions.

Among their findings, they explain that bioactive compounds in mushrooms such as cordycepin, lovastatin, eritadenine and ergosterol are believed to “directly influence gene expression that induces cardiovascular function” due to the fact that they are structurally similar to, among others, adenosine. —a chemical that can lower blood pressure.

When asked to put these findings into context, Dana Ellis Hunnes, PhD, MPH, RD, senior clinical dietitian at UCLA Medical Center, assistant professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, and author of the book Survival Recipe, said Health that a serving of mushrooms – for non-allergic people, at least – might help lower blood pressure.

“In the context of an otherwise less than healthy diet, it may not make a huge or significant difference in overall risk,” she explained, “but when added to a varied Mediterranean or DASH diet and overall healthy, it may even help more.”

Getty Images / Guido Mieth

In their review, the study authors write that edible mushrooms have long been known to be “functional foods” that serve as a rich bioactive resource, meaning they contain compounds that stimulate bodily actions that generate overall good health.

Bioactive foods have been studied as preventative tools not only for heart disease, but also for cancer, among other conditions.

The review notes that mushrooms are often incorporated into heart-healthy approaches to eating habits like Mediterranean and Dietary Diets to Stop Hypertension (DASH) due to the fact that they contain bioactive substances such as protein, sterols, vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and amino acids.

Dr Hunnes added that mushrooms are known “to contain a decent amount of potassium per serving”. This would equal about 11% of the DV (daily value) or between 300 and 400 mg. She explained that potassium is an important part of the DASH and Mediterranean diets because “it can help regulate blood pressure,” which in turn can help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

“Mushrooms are considered part of a healthy plant-based diet and not the specific magic of hypertension management,” said Mary Ellen DiPaola, RD, CDE, IBCLC, senior outpatient dietitian at the University. ‘UCSF. Health. “Other non-nutritional lifestyle factors also play an important role.”

Reviewing the review, Dr. Hunnes highlighted that one serving (or 84 grams) of raw edible mushrooms increased macronutrients (5%), dietary fiber (2% to 6%), riboflavin (15% ), potassium (11%), niacin (13% to 26%), copper (13% to 22%), vitamin D (9% to 11%) and choline (14%).

“These nutrients and bioactive constituents play a role in cellular metabolism, circulating levels of certain micronutrients that can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and blood pressure, such as potassium,” she explained. .

“There are also a number of compounds – many of which may not even have a name yet – that contribute to the microbiome and/or blood pressure benefits of mushrooms,” Dr. Hunnes continued.

In the conclusions of their article, the authors note that the bioactive properties of mushrooms could pave the way for pharmaceutical innovations. They state that “these molecules could act as potential drug candidates that reduce hypertension, which also requires evidence from pharmacology and clinical biochemistry.”

While all of this may sound promising, what if you’re allergic to mushrooms?

DiPaola, who is also unaffiliated with the new research, noted that the DASH diet offers ingredients other than mushrooms that contain many of the same heart-health-promoting properties as the mushrooms described by the review – they are plant-based, contain enough fiber, have less sodium, contain enough calcium and have moderate levels of protein.

“There may be other mushrooms that may act similarly to edible mushrooms for people with mushroom allergies,” Dr. Hunnes suggested. “However, a whole plant-based diet often confers similar, healthy benefits.”

Rather, the review stimulates conversation about the many ways what we consume can benefit our cardiovascular health, including reducing high blood pressure levels.

DiPaola recommends plant-based whole foods, as evidenced by the Mediterranean and DASH diets. Additionally, healthy lifestyle behaviors that include exercise, stress management, maintaining a healthy weight, and managing other comorbidities with heart disease are essential.

The review authors point out that mushrooms alone are not the only answer and that more research needs to be conducted to understand their bioactive compounds and their impact on hypertension.

“Thus, edible mushrooms have great significance in clinical evaluations that require phylogenetic and toxicological analysis of the bioactive constituents of fungi,” the authors concluded. “So the next time you’re stirring up a ‘mushroom risotto,’ enjoy the potential of a biologically and nutritionally unique fungus in the style of ‘edible mushrooms’.”

For his part, Dr. Hunnes recommended a balanced diet rich in nutrients.

She said: “A whole, plant-based diet varied in the types of plant foods eaten – especially avocado, nuts, seeds, legumes, green vegetables – can be extremely beneficial for blood pressure. blood pressure and heart health.”

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