Oyster Mushroom for health

Dr. Parvani Rekhi

Oyster mushroom (Pleurotus sp.) belonging to Class Basidiomycetes and Family Agaricaceae is popularly known as ‘dhingri’ in India and grows naturally in the temperate and tropical forests on dead and decaying wooden logs or sometimes on dying trunks of deciduous or coniferous woods. It also grows on decaying organic matter and the fruit bodies of this mushroom are distinctly shell or spatula shaped with different shades of white, cream, grey, yellow, pink or light brown depending upon the species. It is one of the most suitable fungal organisms for producing protein rich food from various agro-wastes or forest wastes without composting. This edible mushroom was first cultivated in Germany by Flack during the year 1917 on trees stumps and wood logs and growing technology was later designed in USA by Block, Tsao and Hau. Cultivation of different varieties of oyster mushroom was initiated in India in the early sixties and commercial cultivation was began in mid-seventies. These are cultivated throughout the world for producing flavoring and aromatic with medicinal stuff, lignin and phenol, degrading activities, antimicrobial activities and antioxidants immune- enhancing activities and producing secondary metabolites such as terpenoids, alkaloids and phenols. It is the third largest cultivated mushroom and China is the world largest in producing oyster which contributes nearly 85% of the world total population of about million tonnes. Nutritional benefits of Oyster Mushroom
Nutritional value of oyster mushroom is also appreciable. 3.5 oz. of oyster mushroom provides 38 Calories and contain, 15%-25% of Protein, 2.2g of Fat, 6.5g of Carbohydrate, 2.8g of Fiber, and also contains Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 0.56 mg, Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 0.55 mg, Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 12.2 mg, Phosphorus 140 mg, Calcium 28 mg, Iron 1.7 mg. Comparatively it is high in fiber, low in carbohydrate and fats which make it more potential for normal people and patients. Oyster mushroom helps in solving the problems of malnutrition and disease. Its protein content is second to legumes and quality is nearly equal to animal derived protein. Low fat content of oyster is mostly of the healthy unsaturated types. It contains the minerals mainly required by the human body, such as calcium, phosphorous and iron, in twice the amounts contained in beef, pork and chicken meat. It has the highest content of Vitamin B1 and B2. It is rich in folic acid content which can prevent and cure anemia and 5 to 10 times richer in niacin than any other vegetable. Oyster mushroom is also suitable for people wishing to reduce their weight. It is also used to relax muscles, to resist leakage of blood vessels and in strengthening of veins and relaxation of the tendons. Oyster mushroom also contains many vitamins (B, D, C, K), minerals, trace elements (Na, Cr, Cu, I, Se, Zn) and some fatty acids. Beyond doubt, the oyster mushroom found to have positive impact on the organism and is considered as component food of healthy diet.
Health benefits of Oyster Mushroom
The consumption of oyster mushrooms can aid in ameliorating & preventing many ailments like: liver ailments, high blood cholesterol level, kidney problems, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, gastric cancers, impaired immune response, hepatitis B, chronic fatigue syndrome, microbial infection
Reduce Cholesterol levels: – Oyster mushroom have been shown to lower cholesterol naturally in both animal and human studies. A study conducted on animals showed that oyster mushroom reduced cholesterol levels by 37 percent and lowered triglycerides by 45 percent. Another study conducted in 2007 showed that diabetic patients who were given oyster mushrooms showed a significant reduction in cholesterol levels. In addition, oyster mushrooms are a good source of fiber which is known to improve heart health and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Strengthen immunity: This mushroom possesses antioxidants like selenium, which helps to protect the cells from damage that might lead to chronic diseases, by helping in strengthening the immune system.
Boost brain function: Oyster mushroom is rich in niacin (vitamin B3), an important nutrient that shown to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s diseases and age-related cognitive decline.
Lower inflammation: Inflammation is the body’s normal immune response that protects the body against infections and diseases. On the other hand, chronic inflammation is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes and several studies have shown that oyster mushroom possesses powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can help to control inflammation.
Decrease blood sugar levels: Increasing the consumption of oyster mushrooms has been shown to lower the risk of diabetes. A study pointed out that oyster mushrooms are rich in ?-glucans, a water-soluble dietary fiber that may help improve glucose levels, which can aid in reducing diabetes risk.
Lower blood pressure levels: The antihypertensive activity of oyster mushroom has been shown to lower high blood pressure. The presence of ?-glucans in oyster mushroom has been shown to have an effect on blood pressure levels.
Oyster mushroom, has significant health benefits that include various atherogenic lipid and antioxidants in hypercholesterolemia, glucose in diabetes, bile acid secretion etc. Although mushrooms are increasingly being recognized as an important food product for their significant role in human health, nutrition and disease, their consumption in developing countries is extremely limited, one reason probably being that the health benefits derived from various edible mushrooms are largely unknown to our people. So, the present document is just to generate an awareness of the beneficial effects of oyster mushroom
(The author is Assistant Professor, MS Swaminathan School of Agricultural, Shoolini University)