Mushrooms demonstrate possible immunomodulatory activities and other health benefits. It is thought these health benefits are mainly due to polysaccharides and polysaccharide-protein complexes, which create the cell walls of these organisms. The principal bioactive substances are believed to be the beta-D-glucans. Beta-D-glucans, usually called beta-glucans, are nondigestible polysaccharides found in nature in such sources as cereal grains, including oats and barley, as well as in yeast, bacteria, algae and mushrooms. The most studied beta-glucans are all from Japan. The sources are lentinan from Lentinus edodes; grifolan from Grifola frondosa; schizophyllan from Schizophyllum commune; SSG from Sclerotinia sclerotiorum; PSKfrom Coriolus versicolor; and PSP, also from Coriolus versicolor. Mushrooms have also shown antitumor, antimicrobial, lipid-lowering and glucose-regulating activities.
There is a large selection of mushrooms available to fit individual health needs. An estimated 38,000 species of mushrooms exist, most provide a wealth of protein, fiber, B vitamins, and vitamin C, as well as calcium and other minerals. And at least three species have demonstrated phenomenal healing potential: maitake, shiitake, and reishi. Mushrooms have been a part of traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years and continue to be enjoyed for their benefits today.
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