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Maitake Mushroom Improves Cholesterol and Lipid Status

Maitake mushroom can improve cholesterol and lipid status

To study the effect of maitake mushroom on lipid accumulation, rats fed a high cholesterol diet were supplemented with 20% "powdered" maitake. After supplementation, levels of serum cholesterol, serum triglycerides and serum phospholipids fell by 30% to 80%, as compared with animals fed the standard lab chow. Levels of serum HDL-cholesterol, the beneficial form of serum cholesterol, held steady throughout supplementation. Measurement of fecal cholesterol and bile salt output indicated that maitake mushroom ingestion increased cholesterol and bile excretion by a very significant 180% and 300%, respectively. Weight of liver and epididymal fat pads in the maitake-treatedgroup of animals declined by 30-40% during the course of the experiment. These results suggest that maitake helps im prove lipid metabolism and prevents hepatic lipid buildup (fatty liver).

Comment: The use of mushrooms as functional foods has been most popular in Asia, where the application of mushrooms to support health was recorded at least 2000 years ago. In particular, maitake has been used to reduce excessive dampness, according to Eastern traditions. Ingredients in edible mushrooms are known to modulate the immune system thus improving the body’s response. Maitake ingredients exhibit other functional properties. As demonstrated here, mushroom polysaccharides can lower the level of serum lipids. The mechanism may involve increased bile production on one hand, and increased liver turnover of cholesterol and triglycerides, although the details of the mechanism are not completely understood. It is significant that HDL levels were maintained, because of the cardioprotective effects of this form of serum cholesterol relative to LDL. It will be important to establish whether the action of maitake mushroom in humans is similar to animal models, and whether such high amounts are required.

Kubo K and Nanba H. Anti-hypoliposis effect of maitake fruit body (Grifola frondosa) Biol Pharm Bull 1997; 20: 781-785.

[an excerpt from the Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients, January 1998: Antioxidants, Nutraceuticals and Functional Food, by Robert A. Ronzio, PhD]

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