A dose of fungi a day keeps the cardiologist away.
Today, some *heartening* news: a study recently published in the scientific journal Phytotherapy Research found that adding mushrooms to your diet may improve blood pressure levels which, in turn, protects heart health.
Researchers say compounds contained in mushrooms, such as cordycepin, lovastatin, eritadenine, and ergosterol, are structurally similar to adenosine, a chemical that can lower blood pressure. Low blood pressure is critical to overall well-being because high blood pressure can lead to heart attacks and heart failure.
According to Dana Ellis Hunnes, PhD, MPH, RD, senior clinical dietician at UCLA Medical Center and author of Recipe for Survival, mushrooms also contain a good amount of potassium per serving—around 11% DV—which helps to regulate blood pressure as well. Additionally, one serving of mushrooms increases macronutrients, fiber, riboflavin, niacin, copper, vitamin D, and choline levels. “These nutrients and bioactive constituents play a role in cellular metabolism, circulating levels of certain micronutrients that may lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and blood pressure,” says Dr. Hunnes. “There are also a number of compounds, many of which may not even have a name yet, that contribute to the health benefits of mushrooms on blood pressure.”
But, Dr. Hunnes warns, adding mushrooms to an otherwise unhealthy diet isn’t going to do much to protect your heart health. This new research simply suggests that those who already eat nutritiously should be sure to include 'shrooms in their diet for good measure. “When added to a varied and overall healthy Mediterranean or DASH diet, it may help [make an even more significant difference in overall risk than the diet alone],” she says.
Authors of the study believe these findings could inspire future pharmaceutical interventions for hypertension based on the bioactive compounds found in mushrooms. In the meantime, you can dose yourself with a simple trip to the farmers' market.
Not sure where to start? Click here to learn about five 'shrooms favored by the healthiest people on the planet, and discover a few fun recipes, too.
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