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Lifestyle choices like diet and exercise can influence heart health as can certain dietary supplements, such as medicinal mushrooms.

Exploring Medicinal Mushrooms for Heart Health

by Shelly Roberts

January 19, 2022

heart health

There are thousands of mushroom species found throughout the world, but medicinal mushrooms are the species used historically in the traditional medicine practices of China and Japan. These traditional practices have been passed down largely unchanged for thousands of years. They are based on the idea of a vital life force and are centered around balancing opposing forces (internal and external, yin and yang) to maintain good health.

Though studies of traditional medicine practices are limited, it is estimated that one in five Americans use Chinese herbal products. While these should not replace conventional, in Western medicine, health providers are open to considering the benefits of supplements to support evidence-based medicine.

As part of a proactive approach to health and wellness, mushroom supplements can support many of the body’s systems and promote their efficient functioning. This includes specific medicinal mushrooms for heart health. Easy to take and incorporate into your daily routine, these powerful superfoods offer nutrition and a whole lot more.

The Importance of the Circulatory System

Heart health is critical for our overall well-being. Comprised of the heart, arteries, and veins, the circulatory system brings oxygen, nutrients, hormones, and blood cells to every part of the body and carries wastes away. The health of our heart and blood vessels is impacted by blood pressure, blood lipids, and blood sugar. Lifestyle choices like diet and exercise can influence heart health as can certain dietary supplements.

Four Medicinal Mushrooms for Heart Health

Functional mushrooms generally support gut health with prebiotic fiber and the immune system with beta-glucans polysaccharides. They have antioxidant properties to combat oxidative stress and support the body’s response to inflammation. Though there are multiple supports for overall health and wellness, there are also species-specific benefits for certain body systems. 

Four medicinal mushroom species, in particular, may support heart health (in individuals with no known heart issues) with their characteristic bioactive compounds. They are:

Reishi

Reishi is one of the most well-known and well-researched medicinal mushrooms. In nature, it grows like a shelf or bracket on trees in hot, humid areas of Asia and North America. It is also cultivated sustainably in toxin-free indoor environments. Tough and woody, reishi is typically dried and ground into a powder.

Reishi has been in use for thousands of years in traditional Eastern medicine to increase energy, slow aging, and prolong life. It contains many bioactive compounds; triterpenoids, polysaccharides, and peptidoglycans are believed to influence its health properties. Reishi’s benefits for heart health may include:

  • Support for healthy blood pressure
  • Support for healthy cholesterol levels 
  • Support for cellular energy in the heart muscle 

Though most of the research has been conducted with tissue culture or lab animals, these benefits reinforce the traditional uses for reishi over the years. 

Cordyceps

Cordyceps is an unusual mushroom species found on caterpillars in the higher altitudes of the Tibetan Plateau. Cordyceps was considered a tonic for all illnesses because it helped to sustain vigor and vitality. Fortunately, it, too, has been successfully cultivated in the US which has increased access and ensured availability. 

Cordyceps contains amino acids, fatty acids, and an abundance of minerals, as well as bioactive compounds adenosine and cordycepin. It is preferred by athletes who use it to promote energy and endurance. While research studies are inconclusive, some evidence suggests benefits for heart health, at least in animals:

  • Cordyceps has shown anti-fatigue effects in research with animals.
  • Cordyceps had a protective effect in mice receiving cardiotoxic drugs.
  • In human trials, cordyceps improved respiratory parameters and time-to-exhaustion.
  • Cordyceps improved tolerance to fatigue in long-distance runners.

Cordyceps supports ATP production and energy use during exercise and recovery afterward.

Maitake

Maitake is another well-known culinary and medicinal mushroom known to support heart health. Though it may be found growing near the base of oak, elm, and maple trees from Asia to North America, it is now routinely cultivated to ensure safety and purity. Fresh or powdered maitake may be used in recipes to add flavor and promote health benefits.

Maitake mushrooms contain antioxidants, beta-glucans polysaccharides, vitamins (B and C), minerals (copper and potassium), fiber, and amino acids. They are prized for their support for healthy metabolic functioning. A healthy metabolism is key to maintaining heart health. While maitake may support healthy metabolic parameters, it should not replace medication or be used with medication without explicit guidance from your physician.

Shiitake

Shiitake have a meaty texture and woodsy taste that makes them a popular culinary mushroom. They also have a long history of use in traditional medicine practices in Asia. Shiitake have been successfully cultivated in many countries both for use in cooking and as a medicinal mushroom.

Shiitake are a good source of B vitamins and minerals, especially copper and selenium. They are high in dietary fiber and antioxidants and contain a compound that supports healthy cholesterol levels.  Shiitake mushrooms may have a positive effect on heart health for individuals with no known issues. Including regular servings or a shiitake supplement in your diet may offer some support for cardiovascular health. 

Om Mushrooms Support Heart Health

Om Mushroom Superfood cultivates high-quality functional mushrooms to support a healthy lifestyle. Our reishi, cordyceps, maitake, and shiitake products are free from heavy metals, pesticides, and microorganism contaminants. Grown at our indoor farm in southern California, the process is supervised by expert mycologists who optimize the growing environment for each individual mushroom species. Nurtured in state-of-the-art clean rooms with filtered air and water, Om’s process is free from environmental toxins.

Reishi, cordyceps, and maitake are available in single-species mushroom powder blends that contain the full-spectrum lifecycle offering the benefits of both mycelium and fruit body or primordia. Shiitake is available in Om’s convenient, single-serving Mighty Broth mixes in hearty bone broths and vegan varieties.

For a multi-species blend that includes both reishi and cordyceps, try the Fit or Restore organic mushroom powder blends. Each of these blends contains specially-curated ingredients to support energy, aerobic stamina, and recovery. All four species may be found in Om’s Master Blend Organic Mushroom Powder. In loose powder or capsule form, this blend of ten mushroom species plus reishi extract and three botanical adaptogens provides support for overall wellness.  

With a history of thousands of years of use in traditional practices, medicinal mushrooms may help support heart health with unique and powerful bioactive compounds. Adding a daily dose of these functional mushrooms to your wellness routine may help support efficient metabolism and cardiovascular health. 

Om Mushroom offers medicinal mushrooms for heart health. Our products are cultivated and processed under strict quality standards to provide whole food, organic mushroom products that have life-changing health benefits. To take advantage of the benefits of functional mushroom products, shop now or subscribe to save!

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Functional mushroom products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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