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New Study Reveals How Different Mushrooms Affect Body’s Acid Levels

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Recent research has identified the diverse potential renal acid load (PRAL) values of various edible mushrooms, shedding light on their varying effects on the body’s acid-base balance.

This study, published in the journal npj science of food, is a significant advancement in understanding the nutritional properties of mushrooms, which are widely consumed globally and known for their high protein content.

The PRAL value is a measure used to estimate the capability of foods to alter net endogenous acid or base production in the body. Foods with high PRAL values tend to increase the body’s acidity, while those with low or negative PRAL values contribute to alkalinity. The long-term consumption of high-PRAL diets is linked to low-grade metabolic acidosis, associated with inflammation and tissue damage, while low-PRAL diets are connected to better metabolic parameters and enhanced anaerobic exercise performance.

This study, published in npj Science of Food, encompasses an analysis of 37 edible mushroom species. It reveals a heterogeneous picture: commonly consumed mushrooms like Agaricus bisporus, Lentinula edodes, and Pleurotus ostreatus have alkalizing effects, while species like Volvariella volvacea and Pleurotus flabellatus are identified as acidifying, likely due to their high phosphorus content.

A striking aspect of the research is the vast range in PRAL values among different mushroom types. For instance, Volvariella volvacea shows a high PRAL value of 41.50 mEq/100 g, indicating a strong acidifying effect. In contrast, Craterellus aureus has a negative PRAL value, suggesting alkalizing properties. This variation underlines the importance of considering specific mushroom types when optimising dietary PRAL for health benefits.

The study also notes a strong correlation between mushrooms’ potassium and phosphorus content and their PRAL values, but no significant association with protein content was found. This finding is crucial as it indicates that the acidifying or alkalizing potential of mushrooms is more closely related to their mineral content than their protein levels.

Mushrooms’ potential as substitutes for animal-based foods has been proposed, given their protein and amino acid composition. However, their PRAL values have received little attention in nutritional discussions. This research thus fills a gap, offering a comprehensive PRAL table for edible mushrooms, which could be a valuable tool for individuals aiming to alkalize their diets and nutritionists seeking to optimise their patients’ PRAL intake.

One of the limitations of the study is its reliance on nutrient content data on a dry matter basis, which might overestimate PRAL in fresh mushrooms. Moreover, not all edible mushrooms were covered in the analysis, and mycelial extracts were only included in a limited number of publications.

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