Functional Mushrooms for Heart Health: Best Ones and How to Use Them
Updated September 22, 2023.
The extensive health benefits of functional mushrooms are extremely apparent in the modern world as more and more research is being carried out. They have been utilised for millennia for their nutritional components as well as their potential therapeutic properties.
One of these potential benefits is an improvement in your heart health, but how true is this? How do functional mushrooms benefit your heart, which ones should you use, and how should you take them?
How Can Functional Mushrooms Improve Heart Health?
Maintaining a healthy heart takes a multifaceted approach, and although adequate exercise and reduction of unhealthy habits like smoking are necessary, diet also plays a crucial role. That being said, there are various ways that mushrooms can improve your diet and benefit your heart.
Studies have found that certain functional mushroom extracts were effective in reducing low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, otherwise known as "bad" cholesterol, in living pigs. Although the study wasn't carried out on humans, pigs are 98% genetically similar to humans—cross-species organ transplants have even been carried out successfully.
Having high cholesterol can block your arteries and make it difficult for blood to flow through your body, inevitably contributing to heart disease.
Blood Pressure Maintenance
High blood pressure can be caused by various reasons and can increase the stress placed on your heart muscles, eventually leading to heart disease. Research has shown that different dietary mushroom species—Shiitake and Maitake—can reduce blood pressure in different ways in addition to reducing cholesterol.
Research has found that functional mushrooms can improve blood and oxygen circulation, which can reduce general and exercise-based fatigue. While this has inherent benefits for heart health, improved oxygen and blood circulation can also improve exercise performance and contribute to the improvement of the overall cardiovascular system.
Antioxidative and Anti-inflammatory Properties
A build-up of inflammation and oxidative stress can hurt the body in many ways, and the cardiovascular system is no different. With that in mind, the potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties of functional mushrooms that have been noted in various studies further suggest their benefit to overall heart health.
Which Functional Mushrooms Are Good for Your Heart?
It appears that all functional mushroom species can benefit the heart in some way, but that the nature of their benefit varies slightly between species. Explaining each of these differences would fill pages upon pages of text, but if you'd like to learn more about this, read our articles discussing the benefits of the following functional mushroom species:
- Reishi (also read Reishi Tea Benefits)
- Lion's Mane
- Turkey Tail
- Black Hoof
- Chaga (also read Chaga Tea Benefits)
- Wood Ear
How to Use Functional Mushrooms for Heart Health
Although you can, technically, chop up and eat many of the functional mushroom species listed above, this is neither the most pleasant nor most optimal way to do so. While some species, like Lion's Mane, have a pleasant taste and are suitable for cooking, other species, like Reishi or Chaga, are thick and woody and not suitable additions to a meal. However, mushrooms have a thick layer of indigestible chitin that needs to be broken down for the body to access all the nutrients, which can be done through chemicals or sufficient heat.
As such, mushroom teas and coffees are great ways of getting the benefits without worrying too much about the poor taste or texture. That being said, tinctures absorbed sublingually have an excellent combination of bioavailability (the amount of a substance your body can absorb) and duration of effect.
As for dosages, there isn't really an optimal dose of functional mushrooms, as the physiological differences between different humans make it difficult to determine. Additionally, adaptogenic mushrooms need to be consumed consistently for an extended period in order for these benefits to be experienced, which is fundamentally different from pharmaceutical drugs.
How to Enhance the Properties of Functional Mushrooms
An important factor to note is the fact that the beneficial components of functional mushrooms can be enhanced by taking them in combination with other therapeutic components that offer similar benefits. This is exactly the basis of our M2CBD formula that combines extracts of various functional mushroom species with premiuml-grade CBD oil and other therapeutic components in the form of tinctures, capsules, sprays, and creams.
to learn more about the different products we offer, visit our online store.
Who Should Avoid Using Mushrooms?
Although functional mushrooms are generally understood to be low-risk for most individuals, they are not completely absent of risk. Side effects usually only occur in extremely high doses, but don't appear to be lasting, and are typically gastrointestinal and stomach related.
That being said, certain people are more at risk for adverse reactions than others and should exercise caution, including the following:
- Those with mushroom or mould allergies
- Those with bleeding disorders
- Those expecting surgery
- Pregnant or breastfeeding mothers—studies have not looked at the safety of functional mushrooms on these women, and so they should avoid functional mushrooms altogether