Oyster mushroom, scientifically known as Pleurotus ostreatus, is a common edible mushroom. You can find it in temperate and subtropical forests. Its name comes from its caps, which resemble an oyster. Oyster mushrooms are full of nutrients, minerals, and protein. As a result, it has multiple health benefits and medicinal properties. For example, it helps lower heart disease risk and provides you with antioxidants. Additionally, oyster mushrooms can be used as meat substitutes in many dishes due to their taste and texture.
Classified as per nutritional values, appearance and taste, you can find about 40 varieties of oyster mushrooms. These include king oyster mushrooms, pearl oyster, pink oyster mushrooms, phoenix oyster, golden oyster, and blue oyster. People in many East Asian cultures use oyster mushrooms in various dishes. For example, people use them to make soups, stir-fry, or even sauces. Besides their culinary uses, oyster mushrooms have several industrial and environmental applications.
Nutritional Value of Oyster Mushroom
Every 100g of oyster mushrooms contain:
- Carbohydrates: 6.09 g
- Proteins: 3.31 g
- Fats: 0.41 g
- Water content: 89.18 g
- Dietary fibre: 2.3 g
- Energy (calories): 33 kcal
Additionally, oyster mushrooms contain bioactive compounds like lectin and antioxidants like phenolic acid.
Health Benefits of Oyster Mushrooms
1. Anti-cancer Properties
Oyster mushroom has antitumor and anti-metastatic properties towards cancer cells. They may prevent the enlargement and spread of cancer cells in the body. For example, a human study suggests that oyster mushrooms may inhibit the growth and proliferation of colon and breast cancer cells. It is due to the bioactive compound beta-glucan in oyster mushrooms.
Beta-glucan disrupts the cell cycle of tumour cells at an early stage. As a result, it hinders their growth and migration to other body parts.
2. Promotes Blood Sugar Regulation
Oyster mushrooms effectively lower blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes. There are specific enzymes and hormones in our body that increase blood glucose levels to provide energy. Similarly, some enzymes and hormones bring down glucose levels to maintain equilibrium.
An increase in blood glucose level for an extended period can cause damage to the heart, liver, kidneys, and vision. However, in people suffering from type 2 diabetes or hyperglycemia, the body’s ability to reduce the blood glucose level is impaired.
A study suggests that postprandial or post-meal blood glucose levels decrease in people consuming powdered oyster mushrooms. That is because oyster mushrooms inactivate the enzymes that increase blood sugar and insulin levels. Also, the high concentrations of the beta-glucans present in these mushrooms help slow down carbohydrate digestion and absorption in the intestines. Therefore, it prevents blood glucose levels from spiking right after a meal. In addition, it can give the body sufficient time to metabolise glucose efficiently.
The study further suggests that consuming about 20-30 grams of oyster mushrooms daily or on alternate days may reduce blood sugar levels. It is especially relevant for patients suffering from hyperglycemia or type 2 diabetes.
3. Provides Antioxidants
Oyster mushrooms are rich in antioxidants such as phenolic acid, gallic acid, ergothioneine and beta-glucans. These antioxidants essentially act as free-radical scavengers in the body and prevent any damage caused by them.
Antioxidants also reduce the ageing of the organs and skin by reducing cellular damage. Specifically, the antioxidant ergothioneine acts as a cytoprotectant. It is a cell-protecting substance. As a result, it can defend against many neurodegenerative disorders that appear due to old age. For example, it prevents Alzheimer’s, types of dementia and Parkinson’s.
4. Promotes Heart Health
Consuming oyster mushrooms regulate lipid metabolism. Compounds like beta-glucan, mevinolin, and eritadenine, found in oyster mushrooms, interfere with the synthesis and absorption of cholesterol. As a result, they lower cholesterol levels in the body. Furthermore, the short-chain fatty acids found in oyster mushrooms aid in better lipid digestion. Therefore, it significantly reduces the risk of acquiring heart diseases like hypertension.
5. Enhances Immunity
Oyster mushrooms can help enhance your immune system. Compounds like beta-glucan fibres, lectins, and soluble polysaccharides can be immunomodulators. Immunomodulators are compounds that can affect the body’s immune pathways to bring either positive or negative change. For example, oyster mushrooms show antiviral and antibacterial properties. As a result, they increase antiviral immune molecules called interferons. Thus, making it easier for our immune system to fight off many respiratory-tract diseases and infections caused by viruses.
Furthermore, a study suggests that oyster mushroom extracts could inhibit the growth of several common bacterial pathogens like E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus. These can cause gastrointestinal infections, skin infections and respiratory tract infections.
The antimicrobial properties of oyster mushrooms come from ribonucleic proteins, phenolic compounds, benzaldehyde and steroids. These compounds inhibit the growth of several species of bacteria and viruses.
6. Anti-inflammatory Properties
Inflammation is a defence mechanism that our body uses to kill off pathogens. However, when it continues for a prolonged period, it may cause severe disorders. For example, arthritis, blindness, asthma, diabetes, and even mental illnesses, like anxiety, can result from excessive and prolonged inflammation. In addition, these compounds cause a decrease in histamine and serotonin secretion, which increases inflammation in the body.
A study suggests that administering oyster mushroom extracts may exhibit a significant anti-inflammatory response. As a result, oyster mushrooms may help ease chronic anxiety and other symptoms of excessive inflammation.
Industrial Benefits of Oyster Mushrooms
1. Meat Substitutes
Oyster mushrooms, precisely pink oyster mushrooms, can be used as meat substitutes for vegan dishes. They have a similar texture and flavour as some meat products, like bacon. Reducing the amount of meat consumption can lead to a decrease in our environmental footprint. In other words, we may help the environment by decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and using the water needed to raise cattle.
Oyster mushrooms have been used as mycoremediation agents to reduce heavy metal pollution. Mycoremediation is the process of removing, degrading or reducing pollution at a given site using fungal species. This process is economical, requires less workforce, and is safe. In addition, mushrooms can absorb the pollutants and assimilate them into less-harmful substances. As a result, oyster mushrooms are among the most popular mushrooms used to mycoremediation of heavy metals in soil and water.
3. Create Faux Leather
Industries use the organic waste from oyster mushrooms to create faux leather or fake leather. This process is environmentally-friendly, reducing the carbon footprint needed to make leather materials. In addition, it does not harm animals. Furthermore, it is a cheaper and vegan alternative to genuine leather.
Ways to Use Oyster Mushrooms
You should not eat raw oyster mushrooms. Instead, you should boil or cook them before consumption. The caps, gills, and stems of oyster mushrooms are edible. You can eat them in various ways, ranging from toppings on pizza or homemade soup. In addition, you can fry, roast, stir-fry or grill them.
Before using them, it is vital to clean them. You can use damp tissues to clean oyster mushrooms. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. However, they should not come in contact with too much moisture.
Healthy Recipes Using Oyster Mushrooms
1. Vegan Oyster Mushroom Soup
Preparation time: 30 mins
- Vegan butter: 20g
- Onions: 2 red onions (diced)
- Oyster mushrooms (sliced): 250g
- Garlic cloves (minced): 2
- Fresh thyme (finely chopped): 1 tablespoon
- Plain flour: 2 tablespoon
- Mushroom stock or vegetable stock: 500 ml
- Coconut milk: 400 ml
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Salt, to taste
- Put the vegan butter in a pot and fry the onions until golden-brown.
- Add the oyster mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes.
- Next put the garlic and thyme, cook for another 2 minutes.
- Then add half the mushroom stock or vegetable stock, bring it to a boil.
- Once the soup is thick, add coconut milk and heat for 2-3 minutes.
- Season the soup with pepper and salt.
- Serve as an appetiser, meal, or snack.
2. Gluten-free Oyster Mushroom Sauté
Preparation time: 30 mins
- Olive oil or coconut oil: 1 tablespoon
- Oyster mushrooms (sliced): 230 g
- Garlic cloves (diced): 2
- Green onions (finely chopped): 2
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Heat the oil in a large pan or skillet.
- Add oyster mushrooms and garlic, and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
- Add half of the chopped green onions, followed by salt and pepper to taste, and cook for another 5-10 minutes with the lid on.
- While serving, add the remaining half chopped onions
- Enjoy as an appetizer or side dish.
Probable Side Effects and Precautionary Measures
People allergic to oyster mushrooms may experience skin rashes, chills, fever, joint pain, and itchiness or swelling of the mouth and throat. Therefore, be aware of your allergens before consuming a new food.
Oyster mushrooms have a shelf life of 7-8 days. They can become inedible after this period. If you eat it past its shelf life, it may make you sick. Therefore, cook and eat them within this period.
Oyster mushrooms should be commercially purchased and not collected from the wild. Wild mushrooms may cause mushroom poisoning, exhibiting several symptoms like abdominal pain, diarrhoea, dizziness, headache, and sometimes, loss of consciousness. Additionally, do not consume an excessive amount of oyster mushrooms as it may cause an upset stomach and nausea. Sometimes, they may cause gas buildup in the intestines as some carbohydrates are difficult to digest. The recommended daily value of oyster mushrooms is one cup.
Oyster mushrooms are edible fungi with several health benefits. For example, they promote heart health, lower blood sugar, and enhance immunity. In addition, they have anticancer and anti-inflammatory effects. They also work as a meat substitute in some recipes. Furthermore, industries can use organic waste from oyster mushrooms to make faux leather.
Oyster mushrooms are highly effective in remediating, or cleaning up, oil spills and other types of pollution in soil and water bodies. However, there may be some side effects of consuming oyster mushrooms.
Therefore, you should eat them at the recommended daily value, one cup. To conclude, assimilating oyster mushrooms into your diet will prove to be very beneficial.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What are the healthiest mushrooms?
A. Some of the healthiest mushrooms are oyster mushrooms, reishi mushrooms, maitake mushrooms, and portobellos mushrooms. Specifically, oyster mushrooms contain various nutrients, minerals, a high protein content, antioxidants and many bioactive compounds. That is why they are one of the healthiest forms of mushroom.
Q. Which mushroom is best for anxiety?
A. Reishi, also known as the mushroom of immortality, is best for stress and anxiety. It supports a sense of calm and, at the same time, strengthens immunity. In addition, it supports the body’s innate ability to handle stress.
Q. Which mushroom has the most protein?
A. As per the USDA guidelines, 10-35% of your calories should come from protein. All the healthiest mushrooms meet the minimum threshold of proteins. However, a few even exceed it. White mushrooms are the most protein-dense mushrooms per calorie. But, oyster mushrooms have the most protein. One hundred grams of oyster mushrooms contain 3.31 grams of protein.
Q. Do oyster mushrooms have medicinal properties?
A. Yes, oyster mushrooms have several medicinal properties. For example, they are anti-cancerous, hypocholesterolemic, regulate blood sugar, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal.
Q. What are oyster mushrooms best for?
A. Oyster mushrooms contain nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. As a result, they may prevent serious diseases like heart diseases, neurodegenerative diseases and cancers. At the same time, they promote gut health and enhance the immune system.
Q. Why are oyster mushrooms considered a superfood?
A. Oyster mushrooms are a superfood because they have nutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and bioactive compounds. As a result, they provide several health benefits. In addition, they contain beta-glucans, which is best for protecting you against short term and long term illness by boosting your immunity.
Q. What vitamins are in oyster mushrooms?
A. Mushrooms are the only non-animal foods rich in vitamin D. Like other mushrooms, oyster mushrooms are also rich in vitamin D. They also contain vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6.
Q. Is a mushroom a vegetable?
A. No. Although people classify mushrooms as vegetables, they are not plants. They’re a species of edible fungi. So, technically, mushrooms are not a vegetable.
Q. Is mushroom protein-rich?
A. Yes, mushrooms are rich in protein. Specifically, oyster mushrooms contain 3.31 g of protein per 100 g. Therefore, it is the most protein-rich variety of mushrooms.
Q. Are oyster mushrooms safe to eat raw?
A. No. You should never eat raw oyster mushrooms. Instead, you should boil, cook, fry, grill or stir-fry them before eating them. In addition, as per Specialty Produce, eating raw oyster mushrooms may lead to potential allergic reactions.
Q. Is the oyster mushroom toxic?
A. No, oyster mushrooms are not toxic. They are edible fungi that impart a lot of health benefits when consumed. However, excessive consumption may cause stomach upset. Therefore, you should eat them in moderation. The recommended daily value of oyster mushrooms is one cup.
Q. Can oyster mushrooms make you sick?
A. Oyster mushrooms are edible mushrooms with several health benefits. The only cases where oyster mushrooms may cause sickness is when you eat them after their shelf life of 7 days. In addition, eating raw, excess consumption, or an allergic response can make you ill.
Q. Do oyster mushrooms give you gas?
A. Sometimes, oyster mushrooms may cause gas buildup in the intestines. That is because carbohydrates are difficult to digest. In this case, consume them in lesser amounts or eliminate them from your diet.
Q. Are oyster mushrooms hard to digest?
A. All forms of edible mushrooms contain sugar. Sometimes, they can be hard to digest because the small intestine cannot digest sugar. Therefore, it undergoes fermentation in the large intestine. Therefore, sometimes mushrooms lead to gas buildup as well.
Q. What are the side effects of eating oysters?
A. An allergic response to oyster mushrooms may result in issues like skin rashes, chills, fever, joint pain, and itchiness or swelling of the mouth and throat. In addition, if you eat them after their shelf life is over, they can make you sick. Also, wild mushrooms may cause abdominal pain, diarrhoea, dizziness, headache, and sometimes, loss of consciousness. Additionally, an excessive amount of oyster mushrooms may cause an upset stomach and nausea.
Q. Can you eat stems of oyster mushrooms?
A. Technically, you can eat the stems of the oyster mushrooms. There is no harm. However, you should remove the stem of oyster mushrooms before consuming them. The stem is tough and rigid and may not taste good. So, you should clean the mushroom properly and then cook it.
Q. How long will oyster mushrooms last in the fridge?
A. Oyster mushrooms last for about a week in the fridge. However, it will only last long if you store them properly. First, you should clean them with a damp tissue and then place them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.