This medicinal mushroom shows promise in reducing symptoms of atherosclerosis

Gargal mushrooms (Grifola gargal) could one day be used as an alternative to prescription drugs for heart disease, according to a study in the Journal of Medicinal Food. The research, led by a team from Mie University in Japan, found that the mushrooms can improve symptoms of atherosclerosis, a condition that often leads to cardiovascular disease. This finding, the team added, is the first of its kind to directly associate gargal mushrooms with improved heart health.

In the study, the team investigated the ability of the mushrooms to reduce plaque buildup in the arteries using an atherosclerosis animal model. To mimic the symptoms of atherosclerosis, researchers injected mice with angiotensin and observed its effects, especially after they were treated with an extract from the gargal mushrooms.

After the experiment, the mice that were treated with the gargal extract had lower biomarkers for atherosclerosis than those in the control group. In particular, mice treated with gargal extract had reduced levels of plaque buildup in their main blood vessels. They also found an increased number of T cells in the bloodstream, which indicated that the extract helped in boosting the immune system of mice in the treatment group. Further analysis also revealed increased levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a protein that stimulates the production of blood vessels.

Overall, the researchers noted that gargal mushrooms can be used to boost immunity and improve symptoms of atherosclerosis. (Related: Medicinal mushroom found to be an effective natural treatment for bronchial asthma.)

Keep atherosclerosis (and heart disease) at bay with these natural cures

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. — over 800,000 adults die from it every year. However, most people don’t realize that a lot of these deaths are preventable and can be avoided altogether with proper diet and an active lifestyle. In particular, most cases of cardiovascular disease start from atherosclerosis, a condition where plaque clogs up the arteries and restricts blood flow. Here are some herbs and supplements that can help in managing (or even preventing) the symptoms of atherosclerosis.

  • Artichokes — Multiple studies have concluded that artichokes help raise the levels of “good” HDL cholesterol levels, while significantly reducing that of “bad” LDL cholesterol.
  • Garlic — The health benefits of garlic are well-known. Studies have found that allicin, the active ingredient in garlic, prevents heart disease and slows the progress of atherosclerosis.
  • Vitamin B3 — The B-vitamin, also known as niacin, is found in fish like tuna and salmon, but it can also be taken as a supplement. Studies have shown that niacin can increase HDL cholesterol levels by a third while lowering triglycerides, a lipid that increases the risk of heart disease.
  • Policosanol — The compound is derived from sugar cane and yams, and studies have shown that it possesses the ability to reduce total cholesterol levels.
  • Hawthorn — It’s a shrub found in every corner of the world, and for good reason. It contains the phytochemical quercetin, which has cholesterol-reducing properties.

To note, simply taking supplements is only the first step in preventing atherosclerosis. For one, avoiding risk factors like smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and physical inactivity is proven to significantly reduce a person’s likelihood of getting not only cardiovascular disease but also other chronic diseases like diabetes and obesity.

People taking prescription drugs for a pre-existing condition or those with a previous history of chronic diseases should first seek the advice of a healthcare professional before starting gargal or other herbal supplements.

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