Pink oyster mushrooms and other mushrooms from the Pleurotus genus have been prized for their nutritional value and delicious taste for centuries. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), oyster mushrooms are prescribed for muscle, joint and tendon relaxation, to strengthen circulation and increase kidney function. These benefits are due to their impressive nutritional profile; oyster mushrooms contain a variety of valuable constituents, including proteins, amino acids, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins.
Contemporary studies confirm these traditions. According to an in vitro study, the Pleurotusgenus can reduce the secretion of inflammation markers throughout the body. Meanwhile, other wide-ranging studies have concluded that the pink oyster mushroom and other varieties could be a useful oncology adjuvant, inhibiting the growth of spread of breast and colon cancers .
However, one of their most intriguing benefits is their prebiotic effect, and subsequently, its immunomodulatory benefits. Here, we share the findings from some recent studies.
Nutritional Profile of Pleurotus Mushrooms
Before discussing the prebiotic benefits of the pink oyster mushroom, it’s useful to lay the foundation with a more detailed overview of its nutritional benefits. In general, mushrooms are excellent for overall health and weight management because they’re low-calorie with no cholesterol. The pink oyster mushroom follows this trend, with a mere 28 calories per serving with 1g fat, 2g dietary fiber, and 3g protein.
Beyond calorific content, pink oyster mushrooms also have outstanding nutritional value thanks to their range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Highlights of this impressive nutritional profile include:
- Niacin: Practically every cell in the body requires niacin to function and metabolize nutrients.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D is not easy to find in foodstuffs as it typically comes from sunlight. However, mushrooms treated with UV lights are one of the richest nutritional sources of vitamin D.
- Iron: One cup of oyster mushrooms gives you 12% of your recommended iron intake, which has various benefits for immune system function.
Oyster mushrooms also contain as much as 8% of the daily requirement of potassium, magnesium, B vitamins including B6, vitamin C, folic acid, amino acids, and pantothenic acid.
Prebiotic Effects of the Pink Oyster Mushroom
Certainly, the nutritional profile of the pink oyster mushroom is central to its many benefits. However, recent studies have shown that one of the variety’s most interesting benefits is its prebiotic effect. This is because the pink oyster mushroom is high in polysaccharides, which contain short chain sugars like glucose, galactose, fructose and N-acetylglucosamine , which are non-digestible compounds that stimulate the growth of so-called ‘good bacteria’ in the microbiota. The proliferation of these organisms inhibits the population of pathogenic microorganisms in the digestive tract. In an in vitro study performed on various types of Pleurotus mushroom, researchers found that all cultures containing the mushroom extracts had better pathogenic inhibition ability .
This is particularly beneficial for patients who suffer from gastrointestinal complaints, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and constipation. Moreover, the pink oyster mushroom’s high concentration of one particular subset of polysaccharides, beta-glucans, are known to have various immunomodulatory benefits. As well as stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria, this organic compound activates macrophages and NK cell cytotoxicity .
Superfood Turns Super Supplement
The pink oyster mushroom is gaining popularity as a sought-after superfood. Thanks to its intriguing colour, delicious taste, and fundamental nutritional benefits, the pink oyster mushroom is popping up in delis and health food shops with increasing frequency. Anyone can gain the nutritional benefits of this incredible plant by incorporating it into a tasty stir fry, curry, or stew – often, looking to the East will provide culinary inspiration.
However, it certainly isn’t only foodies who should get excited; integrative therapists should believe the hype. More evidence is emerging that the nutritional profile of the pink oyster mushroom and other varieties from the Pleurotus genus have significant prebiotic and immunomodulatory benefits. Alongside conventional treatments, these mushrooms could be a useful supplement for patients with gastrointestinal or immunological deficiencies.
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- Thornthan Sawangwan, Wanwipa Wansanit, Lalita Pattani, Chanai Noysang. Study of prebiotic properties from edible mushroom extraction. Agriculture and Natural Resources. 2018; 52(6) 519-524.
- Akramiene D, Kondrotas A, Didziapetriene J, Kevelaitis E. Effects of beta-glucans on the immune system. Medicina (Kaunas). 2007;43(8):597-606. PMID: 17895634.