Can Mushrooms Help Improve High Blood Pressure?

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

For many, staying on top of heart health is a top-of-mind 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 — and is finding ways to control factors that affect heart health, such as hypertension, or high blood pressure. the keywords.

Now, new research has shown that adding a commonly available ingredient to your diet can help lower blood pressure: mushrooms. A review published in Phytotherapy Research highlights how including edible mushrooms in your diet can improve one’s 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 nutritional interventions in alleviating hypertension and other cardiovascular disturbances.”

Among their findings, they explain that the mushroom-containing bioactive compounds 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 in context, Dana Ellis answered Hunnes, PhD, MPH, RD, senior clinical dietitian at UCLA Medical Center, assistant professor at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, and author of the book recipe for survival, told Health that a serving of mushrooms – at least for people who are not allergic – can 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 and generally healthy Mediterranean or DASH diet, it may even help more.”

Getty Images / Guido Mieth

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

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

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

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

“Mushrooms are discussed as part of a healthy plant-based diet, not the specific magic in managing hypertension,” Mary Ellen DiPaola, RD, CDE, IBCLC, UCSF Outpatient senior dietitian, told me. Health. “Other non-dietary lifestyle factors also play an important role.”

Researching the review, Dr. Hunnes pointed out that 1 serving – or 84 grams – of raw, edible mushrooms increased macronutrients (5%), dietary fiber (2%-6%), riboflavin (15%), potassium (11 %), niacin (13%–26%), copper (13%–22%), vitamin D (9%–11%), and choline content (14%).

“These nutrients and bioactive compounds play a role in cell metabolism, the circulating levels of certain micronutrients that can lower 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 be named yet – that contribute to the health benefits of mushrooms on the microbiome and/or blood pressure,” continued Dr. Huns.

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

While this all sounds promising, what if you’re allergic to mushrooms?

DiPaola, who is also unaffiliated with the new research, noted that in addition to mushrooms, the DASH diet contains ingredients that contain many of the same health-promoting properties as the mushrooms outlined in the review: They’re plant-based, high in fiber, less have sodium, contain enough calcium and have a moderate protein content.

“There may be other fungi that can act similarly to edible mushrooms for people who are allergic to mushrooms,” Dr. Huns. “However, an entirely plant-based diet often provides similar, healthy benefits.”

If anything, the review sparks a conversation about the many ways what we consume can benefit our cardiovascular health, including lowering high blood pressure.

DiPaola recommends plant-based, whole foods, as evidenced by both the Mediterranean and DASH diets. In addition, healthy lifestyle behaviors, including exercise, stress management, maintaining a healthy weight, and managing other heart disease comorbidities, are critical.

The review authors clarify that mushrooms alone are not the only answer and that more research is needed to understand their bioactive compounds and how they affect hypertension.

“Edible mushrooms thus have wide scope in clinical evaluations requiring phylogenetic and toxicological analysis of mushroom bioactive constituents,” the authors conclude. “So, the next time you make a ‘mushroom risotto,’ appreciate the potential of a biologically and nutritionally unique fungus à la ‘edible mushrooms.'”

For her part, Dr. Hunnes recommended a well-rounded, nutritious diet.

She said: “A completely plant-based diet that is varied in the types of plant foods consumed — especially avocado, nuts, seeds, legumes, vegetables — can be extremely beneficial for blood pressure and heart health.”

Leave a comment