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Last updated January 3, 2018, originally published June 30, 2016
By Ariadne Weinberg, Featured Columnist  

[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of Doctors and
Registered Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other members of
our Editorial Board.]

Portobello or portobella? You may have heard it both ways.
But the gender-fluid nature of this mushroom isn't nearly
as important as the impact it will have on your health. In
addition to being good for you, these fabulous fungi are
also delicious. They are present in a myriad of recipes, from
lasagna to mushroom burgers.

Their official name is "Agaricus bisporus". In fact,
portobello is a commercial name, and refers to this
mushroom in its last stage of growth. When you go grocery
shopping, these will be the bigger guys, which look like
large umbrellas. Crimini mushrooms and white button
mushrooms are also Agaricus bisporus, just in its earlier
stages of growth. The nutritional properties will vary
slightly, as will the flavor, but you can get good health
benefits from white buttons, crimini, and our star of the
moment, portobella (feminine this time, because she's a

Read on to find out what incorporating these mycopic
munchies into your diet can do for you.

Portobellos Are Anti-inflammatory

Here, we are talking about internal inflammation that
happens throughout your body, in your arteries and in the
cells of your heart and brain, for example.  This type of
internal swelling has a profound and catastrophic effect,
making you more likely to develop a range of chronic

Portobello mushrooms dampen this dangerous internal
inflammation. Thus, they have a even huge impact on your
risk for chronic diseases.

Dr. K. Kohno and researchers at the Biomedical Institute
Hayashibara in Okayama, Japan, isolated an amino
compound in mushrooms that was shown to be
anti-inflammatory, as well as being supportive of your
immune system (immuno-regulatory properties).

After further investigation, they discovered that
mushrooms have therapeutic potential for the treatment of
T-cell mediated, inflammatory, autoimmune disease as well
as bacteria-induced chronic inflammatory diseases.

Mushrooms, including the scrumptious portobello, may not
only be an up-and-coming trendy food, but also a useful
way to heal and prevent sickness.

Portobellos Reduce Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is amongst one of the top health
issues facing society right now.

Luckily for us, portobellos and many other kinds of
mushrooms are heart-healthy.

In 2010, Dr. Keith R. Martin and colleagues from the
Arizona State University experimented on the cells that line
the inner walls of your blood vessels (human endothelial
cells), with a few treatments.

These blood vessel cells were incubated overnight with
dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) vehicle 1.1% or with DMSO
extracts of various mushrooms.

The monolayers were then washed and incubated with the
medium alone or with pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-1B for
6 hours, to regulate the molecules that causes cells to stick
together, and cause artery blockage (proatherosclerotic
adhesion molecules).

All varieties of mushrooms tested significantly reduced the
ability of cells in your blood vessels to stick together
forming blockages (modulated adhesion molecule
expression).  Mushrooms also reduced the binding of
monocytes to both quiescent and cytokine-stimulated

Less stickiness equals fewer blockages equals fewer heart

In other words, eating mushrooms is scientifically proven
to protect you against cardiovascular disease. Stick a few
on the grill, and enjoy.

Portobellos Protect Your DNA Against Oxidative Damage

First off, what's oxidative damage? Cut and apple in two
and leave the slices out on the kitchen table. After awhile,
the white apple turns brown. That's oxidative damage. It's
the same damage that makes an iron pipe rusty and, inside
your body, it ages your cells too.

There is a vital amino acid in your system that fights
oxidation called "L-ergothioneine".

However, we mammals can only acquire it from our diet. It
is not naturally present in our bodies.

Mushrooms do contain L-ergothioneine. You can also find it
in black beans, red meat, and oats.

In 2009, Dr. B.D. Paul and S.H. Snyder from the Johns
Hopkins University School of Medicine conducted tests on
L-ergothioneine's effect on the human body.

Their experiment revealed that ET-depleted cells are more
sensitive to oxidative stress, and that the amino acid
differentially impacts protein and lipid oxidation, as well as
protects DNA from damage induced by reactive oxygen

You are doing your cells and perhaps even the cells of your
offspring a big favor by incorporating mushrooms into your

There are health advantages to getting your
L-ergothioneine from beans and oats, rather than red meat.
Eating red meat raises your risk for both cancer and heart
disease. In fact, all animal proteins do so, according to the
landmark "China Study" begun in 1981 led by Dr. Tolin
Campbell of Cornell University.]

Portobellos Protect Your Brain from Alzheimer's Disease

Portobellos also have a key ingredient to protect your brain.

It's called niacin (otherwise known as
Vitamin B3), and in
addition to protecting against cognitive decline, it also
processes fat in the body,
lowers cholesterol levels, and
regulates blood sugar levels.

According to data from the U.S. Agricultural Research
Service nutrition data releases, grilled portobello has 38%
of the daily recommended amount of niacin in just a single

In a 2004 study, M.C. Morris and colleagues from the Rush
Institute for Healthy Aging examined whether the intake of
niacin was associated in any way, positive or negative, with
Alzheimer's disease and cognitive decline.

From 1993 to 2002, they looked at a Chicago community of
6,158 residents over 65. Their nutrition intake was
determined by a food frequency questionnaire. They gave
four cognitive tests to all study participants at 3-year
intervals in a 6-year follow up. (3,718 participants had
dietary data, and at least 2 cognitive assessments for
analyses of cognitive change over a median of 5.5 years.)
The clinical evaluations were performed on a stratified
random sample of 815 participants initially unaffected by
Alzheimer's disease and 131 participants diagnosed with
4-year incident Alzheimer's disease by standard criteria.

What the scientists discovered is that those who had diets
with the most niacin had the lowest rates of Alzheimer's

They discovered that energy-adjusted niacin  intake
lowered the development of cognitive  decline and

Sticking this fungi on the grill can help to protect from
brain as you age.

Portobellos Keep You Slim

Another ingredient you'll want in your weight loss plan?

You can get it from most mushrooms, but portobellos have
an especially high concentration of it.

In 2005, Dr. George C. Fahey Jr. from the University of
Illinois used a spectrophotometer to analyze beta-glucan
levels, and found that the highest amount resided in raw,
mature portobellos.

That's twice as much as the other mushrooms tested.

Beta-glucan blocks the ability of your body to absorb fat by
35%, and it promotes heart health, to boot.

To me, eating mushrooms doesn't feel like a diet food
though. It just feels delicious.

Portobellos Protect Against Cancer

Yep, portobellos are also a great line of defense against any
existing or potential cancer cells.

E.N. Elbatrawy from Al-Azhar university wanted to know
whether certain solutions containing mushrooms were toxic
to cancer cells (called "cytotoxicity").

In 2015, he tested different mushrooms in ethanol, water,
ethyl acetate, acetone, chloroform, hexane, and petroleum

Cytotoxic effects were evaluated using two cancer line cells
of throat larynx carcinoma and breast carcinoma.

Agaricus bisporus turned out to be most effective in
combination with hexane solution. However,
all mushrooms
had cytotoxic effects against cancer cells. Sometimes
mushrooms are the best medicine.

Portobellos Reduce Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is one of those very studied things
these days, because it can lead to type II diabetes, heart
disease and stroke.

Metabolic syndrome describes a collection of traits that
pre-dispose you to these chronic diseases ---
high blood
pressure, large amount of abdominal fat and being

Dr. M.S. Calvo from the Center for Food Safety and Applied
Nutrition decided to look at the relationship between
racially diverse adults with metabolic syndrome and
mushroom consumption.

In 2016, he retroactively studied 37 subjects who had
participated in dietary intervention with the Vitamin D from
agaricus bisporus. Participants had completed a 16-week
study where they consumed 100 grams daily, then were
followed up for one month, during which no mushrooms
were consumed.

They concluded that mushrooms have many anti-oxidant
and anti-inflammatory properties that, if consumed over a
period of time, could help with metabolic syndrome. Let the
mushroom fest begin.

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Portobello mushrooms are rich in
Vitamin B3 which fights Alzheimer's
and heart disease.