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17 Facts About Oyster Mushrooms

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Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) are a type of edible mushroom that grows in clusters on trees or logs. These mushrooms get their name from their oyster shell-like shape and have a mild, slightly sweet taste. Oyster mushrooms are prized as a culinary delight because they are delicious, versatile, healthy, and extremely easy to grow.

The most notable 17 facts about oyster mushrooms are mainly focused on the health benefits associated with consumption. Oyster mushrooms are loaded with antioxidants like polysaccharides and ergothioneine which are crucially important to good health. Oyster mushrooms can also clean up pollution and are one of the few carnivorous mushrooms.

Find out why so many people around the world grow oyster mushrooms and how you can join them. Soon, you too will be able to cook culinary masterpieces with oyster mushrooms you grew yourself!

Facts About Oyster Mushrooms

17. Oyster Mushrooms Reduce LDL Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels

In a study published in the Journal of Functional Foods, researchers found that oyster mushrooms reduce LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels in humans. Even more promising, healthy cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, levels went unchanged. (Schneider et al., 2010) By association, compounds present in oyster mushrooms can effectively impede the development of atherosclerosis.

Researchers believe that the cholesterol-lowering effect of oyster mushrooms is due to their high concentration of linoleic acid and ergosterol. Additionally, oyster mushrooms are a rich source of dietary fiber and this fiber binds to cholesterol in the gut, preventing it from being absorbed into the bloodstream.

16. Oyster Mushrooms Contain Anti-Cancer Polysaccharides

In a study analyzing anticancer agents that don’t come with toxic side effects, researchers came to the conclusion that compounds in oyster mushrooms can both boost the immune system, and effectively kill cancer cells, while avoiding toxic side effects. The compounds responsible for the anticancer properties are polysaccharides. Oyster mushrooms contain a number of different polysaccharides including beta-glucans, alpha-glucans, resveratrol, linoleic acid, and ergosterol. (Mishra et al., 2021)

Consuming oyster mushrooms on a regular basis is a good prophylactic measure to reduce the possibility of developing cancer.

15. Oyster Mushrooms Stabilize Blood Sugar Levels

In a study on diabetic individuals, it was found that consuming oyster mushrooms significantly reduced blood glucose levels. Furthermore, the study went on to say that this reduction in blood glucose levels wasn’t accompanied by negative side effects in regard to liver and kidney function. (Khatun et al., 2007)

Stable blood glucose levels are critically important to avoiding degenerative diseases. Even people who don’t have diabetes should take measures to stabilize their blood glucose levels, as it is directly related to longevity. (Noordam et al., 2013) This makes consuming oyster mushrooms a simple way to maintain ideal health.

14. Oyster Mushrooms Have Antiviral, Antibiotic, And Antifungal Properties

Oyster mushrooms contain bioactive compounds that are antiviral in nature. These compounds include polysaccharides, polyphenols, and triterpenes that are effective against both RNA and DNA viruses. (Seo & Choi, 2021)

An oyster mushroom extract was shown to inhibit the growth of both bacteria and fungi. Specifically, oyster mushroom extract inhibits the growth of candida, staphylococcus aureus, and E. coli. The specific novel compound in oyster mushrooms that inhibits the growth of both bacteria and fungi is 3-(2-aminopheny1thio)-3-hydroxypropanoic acid. (Younis et al., 2015)

While oyster mushrooms are delicious at any time of year, they may be especially valuable when the seasonal flu is going around, due to their antiviral effects.

13. Oyster Mushrooms Reduce Free Radical Damage

Oyster mushrooms contain significant quantities of antioxidants that are able to reduce free radical damage. Of note, oyster mushrooms contain gallic acid, chlorogenic acid, and naringenin. (Alam et al., 2010) Even more noteworthy, oyster mushrooms contain high quantities of ergothioneine, a strong antioxidant that plays a critical role in good health. (Ey et al., 2007)

A study on rats determined that oyster mushrooms were able to reduce inflammatory markers due to their antioxidant potential. (Jayakumar et al., 2007)

Another study showed that the antioxidants in oyster mushrooms could reduce damage to the liver that was caused by toxins. (Abdel-Monem et al., 2020)

By association, oyster mushrooms are a tool in the fight against chronic, systemic inflammation that many people in the modern world suffer from. This inflammation is behind many common diseases. By reducing free radicals, we are able to hamper inflammation.

12. Oyster Mushrooms Contain High Quantities Of Ergothioneine

There are a few mushrooms that contain high quantities of the crucially important antioxidant ergothioneine. Oyster mushrooms are one of those species, as most oyster mushrooms contain right around 300 mg of ergothioneine per kilo. The King Oyster mushroom contains the most amount of ergothioneine of any mushroom species at over 2,000 mg per kg. (Ey et al., 2007)

Many people are chronically low on ergothioneine, as they don’t eat mushrooms at all. Ergothioneine has been touted to be the “longevity vitamin”, as it is required in many different biochemical reactions and is especially important to neurological health. Low levels of ergothioneine have been directly correlated to a variety of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and dementia. (Beelman et al., 2020) In other words, eat oyster mushrooms if you want to remain mentally fit for a lifetime.

11. Oyster Mushrooms Lower High Blood Pressure

The beta-glucans present in oyster mushrooms has been shown to lower blood pressure. (Bashir & Choi, 2017) In addition to other cardiovascular system benefits, like lowering LDL cholesterol and lowering triglyceride levels, oyster mushrooms are excellent for overall cardiovascular health.

10. Oyster Mushrooms Optimize The Immune System

Oyster mushrooms contain numerous immune system-boosting compounds. The beta-glucans contained in oyster mushrooms have been shown to improve the immune system, increasing the body’s resistance against common viruses like herpes simplex type 1. (Urbancikova et al., 2020)

Beta-glucans are also effective against respiratory tract infections in both children and athletes. (Jesenak et al., 2013) (Bergendiova et al., 2011)

Oyster mushrooms elevate specific cytokines that are responsible for immune system function. This leads to an up-regulation of natural killer cell activity, maximizing immune system potential. (Tanaka et al., 2015)

9. Oyster Mushrooms Improve Gut Health

Advances in microbiome research are indicating how crucially important our gut health is to our overall health. Oyster mushrooms have been shown to improve gut health in one study on obese rats. The dietary fiber in oyster mushrooms acts as a prebiotic and has been shown to support probiotic gut bacteria, while reducing pathogenic bacteria. (Maheshwari et al., 2021)

a closeup view of an Italian mushroom fruiting block

8. Oyster Mushrooms Get Their Name Due To Their Shape

Oyster mushrooms, known as Pleurotus ostreatus in Latin, directly translate to “sideways oyster”. Since these mushrooms somewhat resemble an oyster, the name is appropriate. Oyster mushrooms don’t have many toxic look-alikes so they are easy to identify and forage for. One notable look-alike is the Angel Wings mushroom (Pleurocybella porrigens), which is believed to be responsible for a few deaths in elderly Japanese individuals with compromised kidney function in 2004. However, whether or not Angel Wings are toxic for the general population is still up for debate, as people have been eating them for centuries with no notable side effects. (Jenny, 2022)

In any case, if you are foraging for oyster mushrooms, have them identified by a professional before eating them.

7. Oyster Mushrooms Are Opportunistic Carnivores

Oyster mushrooms are opportunistic carnivores and while that may sound like something out of a B-rate horror movie, let me assure you that it is not as scary as it sounds. As oyster mushroom mycelium spreads throughout its substrate, it is known to both kill and eat roundworms.

Oyster mushroom mycelium first poisons nematodes, effectively paralyzing them, and then harpoon-like filaments puncture the roundworm, liquefying them so their innards can be absorbed. (Frazer, 2021) On second thought, this gruesome process has the potential for a horror movie script.

Oyster mushroom mycelium also feasts on bacteria. While not completely unique to oyster mushrooms, there aren’t many other carnivorous mushrooms.

5. Oyster Mushrooms Can Be Used To Clean Up Mercury, Plastic, And Petroleum Pollution

Oyster mushrooms are excellent at absorbing toxins from the environment, meaning they can be used to clean up mercury, plastic, and petroleum spills.
Fungi in general are great at absorbing toxins so they have been used to clean up oil spills, reduce pollution, and decontaminate soil. Mushrooms can even remove heavy metals from water. (Counter, 2020)

In the modern world, plastic pollution is a significant concern, as it is littered everywhere. In 2011, Yale University tested a number of different fungi to attempt to digest plastic. Oyster mushrooms were one notable plastic decomposer and can be used to quickly break down
plastic so it doesn’t remain in the environment for eons. According to the study, oyster mushrooms can be safely eaten after it has consumed plastic so, in essence, we can turn plastic directly into food. (Vasarhelyi, 2021)

4. Oyster Mushrooms Can Substitute For Meat In Recipes

Oyster mushrooms serve as an excellent meat substitute in almost any recipe. Specifically, both the Pearl Oyster mushroom and the King Oyster mushroom make for the best meat-like textures. One cup of oyster mushrooms contains 3 g of protein and high quantities of potassium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, and folate. Oyster mushrooms also contain choline, vitamin B5, and niacin. With limited carbs and calories, oyster mushrooms are great for anyone looking to lose weight. (FoodData Central, 2018)

On a side note, if you are looking for a mushroom substitute for a recipe that calls for seafood, consider using lion’s mane mushroom, as it has a similar flavor to lobster.

3. Oyster Mushrooms Are High In Vitamin D

Oyster mushrooms, like all mushrooms, contain vitamin D, one of the only foods that naturally contain this vitamin. Oyster mushrooms convert ultraviolet radiation from either the sun or a UV lamp into vitamin D2, vitamin D3, and vitamin D4. (Cardwell et al., 2018)

Since vitamin D is critically important to many biological functions including calcium distribution and immune system function, consuming mushrooms is one good way to increase dietary vitamin D.

2. Oyster Mushrooms Can Be Grown On Straw

While oyster mushrooms typically grow on dead hardwood trees in the wild, they can easily be grown on a straw substrate. Since straw is readily available, clean, and easy to work with, many home growers choose this substrate for growing oyster mushrooms.

Oyster mushrooms can also be grown on sawdust, wood chips, coco coir, and even used coffee grounds. Oyster mushrooms are so voracious that they even can survive on a steady diet of cardboard. The advantage of growing oyster mushrooms is that nearly any substrate you choose is free or at least inexpensive.

1. Oyster Mushrooms Are Easy To Grow

Oyster mushrooms are one of the easiest mushrooms to grow and we recommend all beginners start out growing this mushroom. Nearly every professional mushroom cultivator grows oyster mushrooms in addition to other exotic varieties, but the demand for oyster mushrooms will always be present, as they are so desirable from both a health and culinary standpoint.

Check out our Oyster Mushroom Grow Kits that take all the guesswork out of the process so your first harvest of Oyster mushrooms will be on par with professional growers.

17 Facts About Oyster Mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms have so many health and environmental benefits, while being delicious, which is why so many people grow them. If you want to join the crowd, grow your own oyster mushrooms or buy them from us directly if you are located in the Kansas City area.

References

Inga Schneider, Gaby Kressel, Annette Meyer, Ulrich Krings, Ralf G Berger, Andreas Hahn 2010). Lipid lowering effects of oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) in humans, Journal of Functional Foods, Volume 3, Issue 1, 2011, Pages 17-24, ISSN 1756-4646, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jff.2010.11.004. 

Mishra, V., Tomar, S., Yadav, P., & Singh, M. P. (2021). Promising anticancer activity of polysaccharides and other macromolecules derived from oyster mushroom (Pleurotus sp.): An updated review. International journal of biological macromolecules, 182, 1628–1637. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2021.05.102 

Khatun, K., Mahtab, H., Khanam, P. A., Sayeed, M. A., & Khan, K. A. (2007). Oyster mushroom reduced blood glucose and cholesterol in diabetic subjects. Mymensingh medical journal : MMJ, 16(1), 94–99. https://doi.org/10.3329/mmj.v16i1.261 

Noordam, R., Gunn, D. A., Tomlin, C. C., Maier, A. B., Mooijaart, S. P., Slagboom, P. E., Westendorp, R. G., de Craen, A. J., van Heemst, D., & Leiden Longevity Study Group (2013). High serum glucose levels are associated with a higher perceived age. Age (Dordrecht, Netherlands), 35(1), 189–195. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11357-011-9339-9 

Seo, D. J., & Choi, C. (2021). Antiviral Bioactive Compounds of Mushrooms and Their Antiviral Mechanisms: A Review. Viruses, 13(2), 350. https://doi.org/10.3390/v13020350 

Younis, A. M., Wu, F. S., & El Shikh, H. H. (2015). Antimicrobial Activity of Extracts of the Oyster Culinary Medicinal Mushroom Pleurotus ostreatus (Higher Basidiomycetes) and Identification of a New Antimicrobial Compound. International journal of medicinal mushrooms, 17(6), 579–590. https://doi.org/10.1615/intjmedmushrooms.v17.i6.80 

Alam, N., Yoon, K. N., Lee, K. R., Shin, P. G., Cheong, J. C., Yoo, Y. B., Shim, J. M., Lee, M. W., Lee, U. Y., & Lee, T. S. (2010). Antioxidant Activities and Tyrosinase Inhibitory Effects of Different Extracts from Pleurotus ostreatus Fruiting Bodies. Mycobiology, 38(4), 295–301. https://doi.org/10.4489/MYCO.2010.38.4.295 

Ey, J. et al. 2007. “Dietary sources and antioxidant effects of ergothioneine”. Jrnl of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Published on web July 6, 2007. 

Jayakumar, T., Thomas, P. A., & Geraldine, P. (2007). Protective effect of an extract of the oyster mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus, on antioxidants of major organs of aged rats. Experimental gerontology, 42(3), 183–191. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.exger.2006.10.006 

Abdel-Monem, N. M., El-Saadani, M. A., Daba, A. S., Saleh, S. R., & Aleem, E. (2020). Exopolysaccharide-peptide complex from oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) protects against hepatotoxicity in rats. Biochemistry and biophysics reports, 24, 100852. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbrep.2020.100852 

Beelman, R. B., Kalaras, M. D., Phillips, A. T., & Richie, J. P., Jr (2020). Is ergothioneine a ‘longevity vitamin’ limited in the American diet?. Journal of nutritional science, 9, e52. https://doi.org/10.1017/jns.2020.44 

Bashir, K., & Choi, J. S. (2017). Clinical and Physiological Perspectives of β-Glucans: The Past, Present, and Future. International journal of molecular sciences, 18(9), 1906. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms18091906 

Urbancikova, I., Hudackova, D., Majtan, J., Rennerova, Z., Banovcin, P., & Jesenak, M. (2020). Efficacy of Pleuran (β-Glucan from Pleurotus ostreatus) in the Management of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Infection. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2020, 8562309. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/8562309 

Jesenak, M., Majtan, J., Rennerova, Z., Kyselovic, J., Banovcin, P., & Hrubisko, M. (2013). Immunomodulatory effect of pleuran (β-glucan from Pleurotus ostreatus) in children with 

recurrent respiratory tract infections. International immunopharmacology, 15(2), 395–399. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intimp.2012.11.020 

Bergendiova, K., Tibenska, E., & Majtan, J. (2011). Pleuran (β-glucan from Pleurotus ostreatus) supplementation, cellular immune response and respiratory tract infections in athletes. European journal of applied physiology, 111(9), 2033–2040. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-011-1837-z 

Tanaka, A., Nishimura, M., Sato, Y., Sato, H., & Nishihira, J. (2015). Enhancement of the Th1-phenotype immune system by the intake of Oyster mushroom (Tamogitake) extract in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Journal of traditional and complementary medicine, 6(4), 424–430. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtcme.2015.11.004 

Maheshwari, G., Gessner, D. K., Neuhaus, K., Most, E., Zorn, H., Eder, K., & Ringseis, R. (2021). Influence of a Biotechnologically Produced Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus sajor-caju) on the Gut Microbiota and Microbial Metabolites in Obese Zucker Rats. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 69(5), 1524–1535. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jafc.0c06952 

Jenny. (2022, August 21). Angel Wings: Identification and Controversy. Mushroom Appreciation. Retrieved September 26, 2022, from https://www.mushroom-appreciation.com/angel-wings-identification.html 

Frazer, J. (2021, April 8). How a Carnivorous Mushroom Poisons Its Prey. Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-a-carnivorous-mushroom-poisons-its-prey/ 

Counter, T. (2020, January 14). Oyster mushrooms helped clean up after California’s wildfires. Why is it so hard to make a business case for “mycoremediation?” The Counter. Retrieved September 26, 2022, from https://thecounter.org/mycoremediation-radical-mycology-mushroom-natural-disaster-pollution-clean-up/ 

Vasarhelyi, K. (2021, November 4). Plastic Eating Mushrooms. Environmental Center. Retrieved September 26, 2022, from https://www.colorado.edu/ecenter/2021/11/04/plastic-eating-mushrooms 

FoodData Central. (2018). Retrieved September 26, 2022, from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168580/nutrients 

Cardwell, G., Bornman, J. F., James, A. P., & Black, L. J. (2018). A Review of Mushrooms as a Potential Source of Dietary Vitamin D. Nutrients, 10(10), 1498. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10101498 

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