As a fan of mushroom supplements, you’ve probably encountered the word “beta-glucans” thrown around with mushrooms. But what are beta-glucans? Why are they always associated with mushrooms? Are beta-glucans found in mushrooms only?
Beta-glucan is a polysaccharide that carries a plethora of health benefits, especially for immune function. It’s a soluble fiber found not only in mushrooms but also in other foods.
In the following sections, we’ll explore what beta-glucan is, what functional foods we can find beta-glucan, their benefits, and what’s the best way to incorporate the healthy polysaccharide into your daily routine.
What Are Beta Glucans – The Super Soluble Dietary Fiber
Beta-glucan (BAY-tuh-GLOO-kan) is a water-soluble fiber found naturally in the cell walls of grasses, plants, fungi, bacteria, cereal, baker’s yeast, oats, oat bran, seaweed, rye, and grains.
It’s a form of polysaccharide that consists of a network of glucose molecules that are high in most fiber-rich foods. This polysaccharide downplays an overactive immune system and makes a weak immune function stronger.
Beta-glucans have hypocholesterolemic effects, which means that these polysaccharides may help lower serum total and LDL cholesterol in hypercholesterolemic adults. In addition, it may reduce bile acid absorption in the intestines.
Particularly, beta-1,3-glucans are instrumental in strengthening the body’s immune defenses by improving the power of neutrophils, macrophages, and natural killer cells to fight viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi. In a nutshell, beta-glucans are immunomodulators that create balance and harmony in the immune system.
The role of beta-glucans in promoting better immunity is essential to a healthier lifestyle for humans. Beta-glucans naturally occur in different sources, and the consumption of raw plants, mushrooms, cereal grains, and other functional foods is good for one’s health.
However, with the innovation of science and technology, scientists have found a better way to incorporate beta-glucans into the daily diet of consumers.
You can find beta glucan supplements in the form of mushroom supplements. But still, it’s ideal to find out what kinds of foods are rich in beta-glucans and what benefits they offer.
List of Foods Containing Beta Glucan + Potential Benefits
As mentioned, there are a wide variety of sources of beta-glucans. In this section, we will dive into each of the most beneficial mushrooms and other functional foods.
There are more than 14,000 mushroom species in the world. But here we’ll talk about the top three mushrooms for immunity.
Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) is a culinary favorite in Asian cuisine for its delicious meat-like taste and health benefits too. This edible mushroom is rich with biologically active beta-glucans that may help boost your immunity and reduce bad cholesterol levels.
On top of containing a wealthy amount of beta-glucans, Shiitake mushroom also contains vitamin D, selenium, B5, folate, and zinc. This mushroom is fat-free, cholesterol-free, low in sodium, and a great source of fiber.
Thanks to polysaccharides like beta-glucans and lentinans, Shiitake has the capability to lower bad cholesterol levels, which leads to a healthier heart.
These polysaccharides also trigger the production of white blood cells, so your body has warriors to drive away microbes. Additionally, Shiitake has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that combat cell damage.
Maitake has a Latin name of Grifola frondosa, and it has various nicknames such as “hen of the woods”, ram’s head, sheep’s head, king of the mushrooms, the signorina mushroom, and cloud mushroom or kumotake. In Japanese culture Maitake means “dancing mushroom”.
In Asian culture, Maitake is a star in Japanese and Chinese culinary kitchens and folk medicine. For hundreds of years, Maitake has been used in Chinese medicine to alleviate symptoms of hypertension and diabetes.
This mushroom is jam-packed with bioactive protein polysaccharides such as MD-fraction, D-fraction, and SX-fraction.
These natural compounds have immune-boosting and antitumor properties. Particularly, the D-fraction beta-glucan influences the production of interleukins (secreted proteins) and lymphokines (protein mediators) that encourage better immune response.
Maitake also contains vitamin D that, promotes bone health, and beta-glucans to reduce cholesterol levels to improve cardiovascular health. The good news is as beta-glucans work their magic on your LDL cholesterol, the HDL or good cholesterol level is not affected.
The Oyster mushroom has 202 species in the world, and each of them is edible. This mushroom promotes bioremediation, or the utilization of living organisms like fungi, to free the environment from pollutants.
Oyster mushrooms don’t feed off the woods they grow on. Rather, these mushrooms work as decomposing actors, where they help give back essential elements and nutrients to the soil for the benefit of other plants.
In fact, Oyster mushrooms were instrumental in removing the Amazon oil spills, and they helped treat the New Zealand contaminated soil.
As carnivorous fungi, Oyster mushrooms use their mycelia to produce a chemical that lures nematodes to paralyze and consume them. It results in a healthier ecosystem, and the Oyster mushrooms gain a nitrogen boost.
Oyster mushrooms are rich in polysaccharides called beta-glucans for a stronger immune system. They’re also a great source of magnesium, potassium, folate, fiber, riboflavin, niacin, essential vitamins, and minerals.
Plus, Oyster mushrooms have antioxidant properties that significantly lower the high levels of free radicals. Furthermore, oyster mushrooms show great potential to have antitumor and antifungal properties, especially the Pleurotus ostreatus species.
Which Mushroom Has The Highest Amount Of Beta Glucans?
All mushrooms have rich amounts of beta-glucans. However, the high level of this polysaccharide in mushroom extracts is significantly impacted by the extraction process.
With a simple extraction, there should be just enough beta-glucans to promote good health. But, with the use of a 120-day triple-day extraction procedure from Golden Bloom Mushrooms, the fungi extracts yield a higher amount of beta-glucans compared to other nutrition brands.
That’s why the mushroom supplements from Golden Bloom Mushrooms have higher concentrations of immune-boosting polysaccharides, which is definitely great for your holistic health.
However, you should not take these supplements as a part of any cancer treatment. It may have some properties to maintain high blood pressure, total cholesterol, and other potential health benefits – but it’s not an approved medicine.
Other Functional Foods With Soluble Fiber
Aside from mushrooms, there are also other good sources of beta-glucans. Functional foods such as whole grains, barley, oats, and seaweed contain healthy soluble fibers too.
Whole grains are composed of the endosperm, bran, and germ of cereal and pseudocereal. Examples of whole grains are oats and barley. All whole grains contain rich amounts of beta-glucans.
Barley & Oats
Cereal beta-glucans have so many health benefits, such as reducing the postprandial glucose response, improving good cholesterol levels, and preventing some chronic cardiometabolic diseases.
Cereal beta-glucans are found mostly in barley and oats. In fact, each serving contains 4.5% of this immune-boosting dietary fiber.
Like barley, oats also contain 4.5% beta-glucans. Oats may help in weight loss, blood sugar levels reduction, and lowering bad cholesterol levels.
Beta-glucans are also found in seaweed. The highest percentage of this polysaccharide in brown algae is 33%, which makes seaweed a good source of immune-boosting, healthy soluble dietary fiber.
How Do Beta Glucans Work In The Body?
Dietary fibers have two types. One is soluble, which means that the fibers dissolve in water and transform into a gel-like substance. The other type is insoluble, which absorbs liquid as the fibers pass the digestive tract.
Beta-glucan is a soluble dietary fiber. With the intake of beta-glucans, the food travels slowly through your intestines, which leads to feeling full longer than when you eat insoluble foods.
When the body takes its time to digest food, then you won’t feel the need to eat more. More importantly, beta-glucans stabilize blood glucose levels, lower LDL cholesterol levels, and promote better heart health.
Beta-glucans offer tons of health benefits that lead to the ultimate strength power of your immune system. Regular intake of functional foods and mushroom supplements that are super rich in this soluble dietary fiber promotes a healthier mind and body.
Let’s explore the most common advantages of beta-glucans.
Provides Beneficial Effects Of Beta Glucan For The Immune System
The beta-glucan performs its therapeutic work on every aspect of the human body. These dietary fibers influence better immunity by supporting the heart, gut, and nervous system.
For example, four studies show that beta-glucans regulate blood sugar levels by consuming this polysaccharide for 3-8 weeks and taking 2.5-3.5 grams daily.
In some studies, the blood sugar and insulin levels were significantly reduced in type 2 diabetics. In many animal and test-tube studies, beta-glucans are shown to activate the immune cells called neutrophils, macrophages, and monocytes, leading to protection against infection.
May Offer Cholesterol Reduction
High levels of LDL or bad cholesterol trigger heart diseases. That’s why it’s gravely important to maintain healthy good cholesterol levels. Thankfully, beta-glucans promote heart health by lowering bad cholesterol levels.
In doing so, beta-glucans reduce the risks of heart diseases and cardiovascular failures. One study showed that 3 grams of beta-glucans daily for eight weeks significantly lowers LDL cholesterol by 15%, with a 9% reduction of overall cholesterol levels.
Additionally, beta-glucans have antioxidant effects. They have the ability to curtail the harmful levels of free radicals, prevent chronic diseases, and protect the body against inflammation. With lower levels of bad cholesterol, your heart stays healthy and strong.
Promotes A Healthy Body Weight
As a soluble dietary fiber, beta-glucans slow down the digestion process of foods. It means that you feel fuller for an extended period, which curtails your eating time. Plus beta-glucans are natural fibers that help with your metabolism.
May Provide Healthy Gut Bacteria
Beta-glucans are fermented at the base of the gastrointestinal tract. This occurrence positively affects the microbial ecosystem and enhances brain functions and gut health.
Beta-glucans are prebiotics that triggers the production and release of healthy gut bacteria and support a healthier microbiome. In a nutshell, beta-glucans promote digestive health through good gut bacteria.
May Promote Moisture & Firmness Of Skin
Aside from working magic on your internal organs and systems, beta-glucans are also good for your skin. Beta-glucans create a thin film as protection for the skin’s surface. The film locks in moisture efficiently.
With a significant enhancement of moisture levels, your skin starts to soothe and lower skin scarring. Regular intake of beta-glucans may help your skin become smoother and firmer.
How To Incorporate Beta Glucans into Your Diet?
You can incorporate beta-glucans into your daily diet routine in two ways. Either take mushroom supplements or eat functional foods with beta-glucan contents.
Undoubtedly, the best way to integrate beta-glucans into your diet is through supplements that are rich in this powerful polysaccharide.
Particularly, mushroom supplements from Golden Bloom Mushrooms have the highest concentrations of beta-glucans thanks to the 120-day triple extraction process.
The mushroom products from this health and wellness brand are widely known in the industry for their enormous beta-glucan content, so take time to visit the official website of Golden Bloom Mushrooms.
By taking mushroom supplements daily, you never have to measure the amounts of beta-glucans. There’s no trial and error, so you don’t run the risk of consuming too much and suffering the consequences.
Plus, supplements are easier and more convenient. There’s no preparation needed. Simply take the supplements as is, like the mushroom gummies and tinctures.
Eating Foods Containing Beta Glucans
You have the option to eat functional foods with beta-glucans. This method involves preparation, such as cooking, drying plants or mushrooms, or adding hot water to cereals and oats.
But if you like to do a labor of love daily to include beta-glucans in your diet routine, then feel free to do so. Just know that there’s a better option, which is mushroom supplements.
Can You Take Too Much Beta Glucans?
The dosage recommendation for beta-glucans is 3 grams daily. It may be hard to measure the right amount if you eat functional foods, but much easier when you take mushroom supplements.
But in case you take too much beta-glucans, the side effects include diarrhea, skin rashes, gastric distress, joint tension, bloating, and back aches. That’s why you should not take more than the dosage suggestion.
Final Thoughts – What Are Beta Glucans?
Now that you have a clear picture of beta glucan, the urge to start incorporating this soluble fiber into your diet is intense. But you have the decision to make.
Either opt for mushroom supplements or eat functional foods alongside exercise and a healthy diet. The choice is yours, but if you’re one of the people on the go, taking the supplements is a much better, convenient option.
The good news is you can find the most premium mushroom supplements with higher levels of beta-glucans from Golden Bloom Mushrooms.