Dietary Mushrooms and Decreased Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: A Case Study Approach to Validating an Experimental Design
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the primary killer of Americans. As such, alternative means of a dietary approach to preventing or mitigating the development of CVD is clearly needed in addition to the ongoing recommendation for increased consumption of fruits and vegetables. Many studies suggest that fungi have the potential to decrease morbidity and mortality associated with CVD. Specifically, white button mushrooms, viz., Agaricus bisporus, are fairly common and inexpensive and full of untapped possibilities for efficacy although much additional research is needed. With antioxidants, e.g., selenium, and beta-glucans, viz., indigestible polysaccharides, white button mushrooms contain a plethora of bioactive ingredients that confer a potentially strong tool against the debilitating social impact of CVD.
The objective of this thesis was to establish protocols and a valid experimental design for testing whether dietary mushrooms could, in fact, be protective against CVD risk. Specifically, a case-study approach was used to validate this experimental method to test white button mushrooms and their impact on blood lipid levels and the inflammatory response. This dietary study involved preparation of two soups: a placebo, broth-based soup and one with one cup of white button mushrooms per cup of soup to provide one and a half cups of soup (and mushrooms) per day to each participant. The soup was prepared in The Kitchen Café at the ASU Downtown Campus (Phoenix, AZ).
After preparing the soup, the next goal was recruitment through listserv, local advertisements, flyers, and word of mouth of participants to test the overall plan. Over fifteen people responded; however, only one candidate met the inclusion criteria of someone at high risk of developing CVD and agreed to participate in the study. The participant visited the nutrition laboratory in downtown Phoenix (550 N. 5th Street). Anthropometric data and an initial blood draw were completed, and fourteen 1.5 cup containers of mushroom soup were dispensed to the participant. After two weeks, the individual returned and the same procedures were executed to include anthropometry and blood analysis. Even though the subject did not show changes in blood markers of CVD risk (lipids and inflammatory markers), the hypothesis for the thesis that the study design would be effective was accepted. Thus, the procedure was successful and validated and will be used in the future study.