What You Need to Know About Tocotrienols

Tocotrienols are a group of chemicals that are part of the vitamin E family. So far, research has uncovered numerous benefits associated with tocotrienols.

Tocopherols are another group of chemicals that make up the vitamin E family. Both tocotrienols and tocopherols come in four forms: alpha, beta, delta, and gamma.

The average American diet contains more tocopherols than tocotrienols, so researchers are increasingly interested in how supplementing with tocotrienols might improve health.

Fast facts on tocotrienols:

  • Tocotrienols are a group of chemicals that are part of the vitamin E family.
  • Most vitamin E supplements are higher in tocopherols than tocotrienols.
  • Tocotrienols may help fight free radical damage to the gastrointestinal system.

What are tocotrienols?

Foods containing vitamin E
Tocotrienols and tocopherols are part of the Vitamin E family.

Both tocotrienols and tocopherols may be referred to as vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant, which means that it helps to neutralize free radicals.

Free radicals are chemicals linked to a host of health issues, including skin ageing, cancer, and numerous diseases. Free radicals can also cause chronic inflammation.

The primary reason tocotrienols may be beneficial is because of their antioxidant properties. Cereal grains tend to be rich in tocotrienols.

Good sources include:

  • rice bran
  • oats
  • barley
  • rye
  • crude palm oil

The four forms of tocotrienol are alpha, beta, gamma, and delta tocotrienol. Each type behaves differently, offering a range of health benefits.

How are they different from vitamin E?

Tocotrienols are a less common form of vitamin E than tocopherols. This is because there are more tocopherols in people’s diets and some vitamin E supplements consist exclusively of tocopherols.

The chemistry of vitamin E

The distinction between tocotrienols and tocopherols is chemical.

Research has found that only tocopherol can correct vitamin E deficiency, which suggests that tocopherol is the form of vitamin E that the body needs to function efficiently. However, scientists suggest that people interested in getting the most benefits from their vitamin E supplement should choose a supplement containing both tocopherols and tocotrienols.

The benefits of vitamin E

Both traditional vitamin E in the form of tocopherol and the tocotrienol form of vitamin E offer similar benefits. They’re both antioxidants with the power to reduce inflammation, potentially promoting anti-cancer, anti-ageing, and other benefits.

Benefits of tocotrienols

Tocotrienols target specific free radicals and sources of inflammation, however. Research has found that attacking these targets could offer the following health benefits:

Protecting the brain

n illustration of the human brain
Tocotrienol and tocopherol may protect brain cells from free radicals.

Some brain health conditions, including dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other forms of brain decline, are linked to free radical damage.

Tocotrienols may be able to fight a specific inflammatory factor that is related to brain health problems.

2014 study reconfirmed that the antioxidant activity of tocotrienol and tocopherol provide protection from free radical injury to brain cells.

Some research also suggests that tocotrienols may help fight Parkinson’s disease or slow the course of the disease.

Improved heart health

Tocotrienols can reduce or reverse inflammation and free radical damage that undermines heart health. Tocotrienols can also reduce the power of other cardiovascular health risk factors, including the impact of high cholesterol on heart health.

Reduced risk of cancer

Tocotrienols may reduce the risk of cancer by fighting free radical damage. Some studies also suggest that this form of vitamin E can slow the growth of cancer cells. A 2013 study found that tocotrienols could promote the death of breast cancer cells in the lab.

Research has also found that tocotrienols play a role in fighting liver, colon, prostate, lung, stomach, skin, and pancreatic cancers. Some studies suggest that gamma and delta tocotrienols may be more effective at fighting cancer than alpha and beta tocotrienols.

Preventing osteoporosis

Tocotrienols can help prevent and reduce osteoporosis-related bone loss in several ways. Nicotine use can cause osteoporosis, but research has found that tocotrienol lowers the risk. Studies of rats have found that tocotrienol may slow the course of free radical-related bone loss.

People who already have osteoporosis can also benefit from tocotrienol. Tocotrienol may support bone growth, helping the body replace bone that has been lost to osteoporosis.

Improved gastrointestinal health

This can reduce acidity and prevent the development of painful lesions. Tocotrienol was especially effective at fighting the effects of stress on the gastrointestinal system. In a study of rats that compared tocotrienol to tocopherol, tocotrienol alone stopped hormonal and acidity changes related to stress.

Hair and skin health

Some cosmetic and skin care product manufacturers include both tocopherol and tocotrienol in their vitamin E products. Because tocotrienol is an antioxidant, it may help reverse or slow skin damage due to free radicals.

This, in theory, could prevent wrinkles and help the skin look appear youthful. Some studies suggest that applying tocotrienol to the skin may help, but the improvements are modest and more research is needed.

Side effects of tocotrienols

It is recommended to speak with a healthcare professional before using tocotrienol supplements.

Studies have not uncovered any consistent, serious side effects associated with the use of tocotrienols. As with many other supplements, the primary risk is getting too much. People should talk to a doctor about the right dosing of tocotrienols, and do not exceed the recommended daily intake listed on the supplement package.

People with a history of allergies, particularly food allergies, may want to start with a low-dose supplement and can increase the dose slowly if they do not experience any side effects.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not monitor supplements, so it is important to choose brands that are trustworthy for purity and quality.

Tocotrienol shows great promise for improving health. Because it causes few or no side effects, it is safe for most people to try. It is not, however, a substitute for standard medical care. People interested in using tocotrienol should use it alongside traditional medicine to get the greatest benefits.

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Microbes in Our Homes: Household Microbes: Friend or Foe?

A number of microbes that share our living spaces might come as a surprise to many. But the key question is, are they bad for our health?

When it comes to microorganisms in our living environments, we are bombarded with antibacterial and antiviral soaps, cleaning products of every description, and a general notion that we must keep our houses clean to combat deadly microbial threats.

On the other hand, we are frequently reminded that probiotic microbes have significant health benefits.

Microorganisms are ever-present in our environment and in our bodies, and many are known to be beneficial — or even essential — for our health. However, some are pathogens and can make us very sick, and they can sometimes even kill us.

Keen to know what microbes might be inhabiting the various parts of my home, I delved into the scientific literature and found out why some of our microscopic roommates are good for us, and why others pose a significant threat to our health.

What microbes lurk around our homes?

Scientists from NSF International — which is based in Ann Arbor, MI — tested 22 households in Southeast Michigan. They found that dishwashing sponges contained the highest number of microorganisms, followed by toothbrush holders, pet bowls, kitchen sinks, coffee reservoirs, kitchen countertops, stove knobs, pet toys, and toilet seats.

In the study, the authors found yeast and molds, bacteria in the coliform family (including Escherichia coli), and Staphylococcus aureus on many of the surfaces tested.

To assess the microbial diversity in house dust, a team of scientists — which was led by Jordan Peccia, a professor of chemical and environmental engineering at Yale University in New Haven, CT — tested samples from 198 homes in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

The researchers found that the most common fungal species were Leptosphaerulina chartarumEpicoccum nigrum, and Wallemia sebi. The most abundant bacteria were from the StaphylococcusStreptococcus, and Corynebacteria families.

Homes with pets and those located in suburban areas had more diverse bacterial species, while those with reported water leaks harbored more fungi.

Meanwhile, scientists from Seoul National University in Korea studied the bacteria that inhabit our refrigerators and toilet seats. They found that the many of the bacteria present were also resident on human skin, indicating that we are the source of a lot of the microbes in our living environment.

“In this study, most bacteria detected were probably not pathogens or opportunistic pathogens, and genera belonging to common pathogens were detected in only a very small fraction of communities on the surfaces of refrigerators and toilets,” the authors explain.

So, our tiny roommates are everywhere: from our kitchen sinks to our living room floors and toothbrush holders. The key question that remains is what their impact on our health is.

The answer depends on our age, the state of our immune system, and, of course, the individual microorganism in question.

Allergy and hygiene

According to the “hygiene hypothesis” — which was originally proposed by Prof. David Strachan in 1989 — allergic diseases are able to be prevented “by infection in early childhood, transmitted by unhygienic contact with older siblings, or acquired prenatally from a mother infected by contact with her older children.”

House dust exposes us to diverse microbes.

In an article published in the October edition of Nature Immunology, Profs. Bart N. Lambrecht and Hamida Hammad — from the VIB Center for Inflammation Research at Ghent University in Belgium — explain that studies in animal models have shown that exposure to some viruses, bacteria, and parasites is linked to lower rates of allergy.

Allergic diseases, including eczema, hay fever, asthma, and food allergies, affect 50 million individuals in the United States, while hay fever alone affects 400 million individuals globally.

Allergies develop when our bodies mistake an otherwise harmless substance as a threat and react with an immune response. Microbes are known to affect this process in several ways.

Certain bacteria, such as BacterioidesBifidobacteriumFaecalibacterium, and Enterobacteria, produce metabolites that promote the generation of regulatory T cells. These cells play a major role in protecting us from developing allergies, but children who are prone to allergy are known to have lower levels of these types of bacteria in their guts.

Microbial components also affect another type of immune cell. Dendritic cells patrol epithelial barriers — namely, the skin, gut, and lungs — where they detect incoming allergens. And if this happens in the absence of microbial components, dendritic cells tend to drive allergic immune reactions, whereas if microbes are present, they do not.

So, where can we find these beneficial microorganisms that might protect us from developing allergies?

Microbes that might give us the edge

Prof. Peccia found that certain beneficial bacteria were preferentially found in homes that housed multiple families and those with more than three children.

One of these, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, “is anti-inflammatory and protective against Crohn’s disease,” he explains. Members of the lactobacillus family were also found in higher numbers in such households, and these probiotic bacteria have been implicated in protection against allergies and asthma.

In a separate study, Prof. Peccia’s team found that yeasts in the fungal class Kondoa may have a protective effect against severe asthma when present in the home.

Drinking unpasteurized cow’s milk is liked to a lower risk of allergy.

Exposure to microorganisms in raw milk and those in the dust of homes located on farms has been strongly implicated in lower allergy rates.

However, bacteria and fungi aren’t the only friendly microorganisms.

Although most people tend not to associate parasites with Western nations, in the U.S., millions of individuals are chronically infected with these microorganisms.

But it’s not all bad news: there is evidence that tiny parasitic worms called helminths protect their host from allergies.

Many allergens are similar in structure to helminth proteins, which is why in cases of chronic exposure to helminths, these proteins compete with allergens, leading to non-allergic immune responses.

The timing and type of microbe that an individual is exposed to plays a crucial role in the development of allergic diseases.

Not all infections are beneficial. For example, lower respiratory tract infections in children under 3 years of age are a risk factor for wheezing and asthma.

The hygiene hypothesis has been criticized in light of this. Prof. Lambrecht says that new theories suggest that loss of diversity in the human microbiome — a topic I recently explored in a separate article — means that the microbes and parasites that once provided us with protection from allergies no longer fulfil this function.

While microorganisms may play an important role in preventing an allergic disease from developing in small children, they can pose a serious threat to the health of others.

When are microbes bad for our health?

For people who have already developed allergic disease, microbes in the living environment spell bad news.

Early life fungal infections, especially those of the airways, are linked to the worsening of existing allergic asthma. Infections of the airways with viruses and bacteria can have similar effects, while fungal skin infections are known to trigger eczema.

Prof. Peccia also found that the homes of severely asthmatic children tended to harbor similar microbial allergens. In particular, high concentrations of fungi were found in the homes of these children, with yeasts in fungal class Volutella standing out.
Our refrigerators are ideal living environments for harmful microorganisms.

In addition to the danger that microbes pose to those already allergic or asthmatic, food-borne household microorganisms contribute to significant numbers of illnesses each year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that every year, 3,000 people die from food poisoning. Here, the culprits include Salmonella, certain types of E. coliListeria, and fungi.

According to the 2013 NSF International Household Germ Study, the refrigerator vegetable compartment was a ready source of SalmonellaListeria, and fungi, while E. coli were found in the refrigerator meat compartment, as well as on rubber spatulas, blender gaskets, can openers, and pizza cutters.

So, the bottom line is that among the plethora of microorganisms that inhabit our homes and living spaces, some are friends and some are foes. More importantly, how we react to particular microbes depends on our individual immune systems.

Does that mean that I should keep my home meticulously clean? Cleaning my kitchen’s hotspots — mostly the dishwashing sponge, refrigerator, kitchen sink, counter, and cooking utensils — will certainly go some way toward protecting my family from contracting food poisoning.

As for the rest of the microbes, it depends. In homes with family members who already have allergies, reducing exposure to any of the culprits that trigger symptoms makes sense.

But are we increasingly becoming trapped in a vicious cycle of cleanliness to prevent allergy symptoms, depriving the next generation from the much-needed early exposure to microbes?

There is no clear answer, but scientists are getting closer to finding out how exposure to microorganisms might have protected us from allergies in the past.

In the future, we might also see effective and large-scale preventive strategies based on this new knowledge that can restore the lost symbiotic relationships between (micro)organisms and humans without causing disease or requiring a return to an unhygienic lifestyle.”

Could Tai Chi Encourage More Patients to Take Up Cardiac Rehab?

Preliminary research suggests that tai chi, with its slow, gentle approach, might offer a safe and attractive option for patients who do not take up conventional cardiac rehabilitation.

A report on the study, which has been published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, explains that the majority of heart attack patients who are offered cardiac rehab refuse it, in many cases because they are put off by physical exercise.

Some patients are put off cardiac rehab because they believe that it might be painful, unpleasant, or perhaps not even achievable in their current physical condition.

In the United States, heart disease accounts for 1 in 4 deaths and claims 600,000 lives per year. It is the leading cause of death for men and women.

Of the 735,000 people in the U.S. who experience a heart attack every year, 2 out of 7 have already had a heart attack.

Need to improve cardiac rehab usage

At present in the U.S., despite evidence of its benefits, more than 60 percent of patients decline conventional cardiac rehabilitation following a heart attack.

Given this situation, the study authors urge that there is a need to improve the take-up rate of cardiac rehabilitation, to get patients more physically active and reduce their heart risk.

“We thought,” explains lead author Elena Salmoirago-Blotcher, an assistant professor of medicine at the Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University in Providence, RI, “that tai chi might be a good option for these people because you can start very slowly and simply and, as their confidence increases, the pace and movements can be modified to increase intensity.”

As well as helping to achieve low- to moderate-intensity physical activity, tai chi’s emphasis on breathing and relaxation might also relieve stress and reduce psychological distress, she adds.

Therefore, the team carried out a randomized, controlled trial to find out how safe and acceptable tai chi might be – as well as what impact it might have on weight, physical activity, fitness, and quality of life – for heart patients who had refused conventional rehabilitation therapy.

Trial tested LITE and PLUS tai chi programs

The trial compared two regimes: a PLUS and a LITE tai chi program, both adapted from a routine used for patients with lung disease and heart failure.

The PLUS program consisted of 52 classes of tai chi over 24 weeks. The LITE program was a shorter version, with 24 classes over 12 weeks. All participants were also given an instructional DVD so that they could practice tai chi at home during and after the program.

The participants were 29 coronary heart disease patients (21 men and 8 women) – aged 67.9 years, on average – who were physically inactive and had declined cardiac rehabilitation but expressed an interest in a tai chi program. Nine patients were enrolled in the LITE program and 21 on the PLUS.

None of the participants had physical conditions that would preclude they’re being able to do tai chi (for example, recent joint replacement or other orthopedic condition).

Most of the group had had a previous heart attack or undergone a procedure to open a blocked artery, and all continued to have high cardiovascular risk factors.

These factors included having high cholesterol (75.9 percent of the group), having diabetes (48.3 percent), being obese (45 percent) or overweight (35 percent), and continuing to smoke (27.6 percent).

‘Safe bridge to more strenuous exercise’

The results of the trial showed that tai chi was safe: apart from some mild muscular pain at the start of the program, there were no adverse side effects from the tai chi itself.

The participants liked the program that they completed, and all of them said that they would recommend it to a friend.

The researchers say that the attendance level – participants went to 66 percent of scheduled classes – showed that the tai chi program was “feasible.”

Although neither program raised aerobic fitness, as measured after 3 months, the participants on the PLUS program did have higher levels of moderate to vigorous activity after 3 and 6 months.

“On its own,” says Prof. Salmoirago-Blotcher, “tai chi wouldn’t obviously replace other components of traditional cardiac rehabilitation, such as education on risk factors, diet, and adherence to needed medications.”

In an accompanying article on possible ways to improve the take-up of cardiac rehabilitation, a panel of experts writes that it “remains powerful, yet underutilized, tool” in the management of patients following a heart attack or blocked artery procedure.

They suggest that the tai chi study offers an option “that addresses barriers at the individual level (e.g., negative sentiment toward exercise).”

If proven effective in larger studies, it might be possible to offer it as an exercise option within a rehab center as a bridge to more strenuous exercise, or in a community setting with the educational components of rehab delivered outside of a medical setting.”

About Malanga

People in many parts of the world may not be familiar with malanga. However, this root vegetable has been farmed longer than many other plants.

According to the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, malanga goes by many other names, including “…yautia, cocoyam, eddo, coco, tannia, sato-imo, and Japanese potatoes.” The scientific name for malanga is Xantyosoma sagittifolium, but it is more commonly known as the elephant ear plant.

In this article, we take a look at malanga, examining its nutritional content, possible health benefits, and how to include this root vegetable in a diet.

What is malanga?

Malanga root vegetable chopped up on wooden background.
Malanga is a type of root vegetable grown in the Caribbean. The part of the plant that is eaten is the tuber, similar to a potato.

Malanga originated in South America, but it is now grown in the Caribbean, Central America, and certain parts of Africa and Asia.

It is sometimes confused with other tropical root vegetables, such as taro. The two plants have subtle differences in their structures. The malanga plant has sizeable leaves and may grow to be more than 5 feet tall.

The part of the malanga plant that is eaten is known as a tuber. The tubers grow underground and are similar in size to a potato. People should remove the brown, hairy skin of the tubers before eating them.

The flesh of the malanga root is light-colored and can be prepared using a variety of cooking methods, such as baking, frying, and stewing. Malanga can also be ground to make flour for baking.

Nutritional information

According to the American Diabetes Association, 1/3 cup cooked malanga provides the following:

  • 70 kilocalories
  • 0.1 g of fat
  • 16 g of carbohydrate
  • 1 g of protein

The same amount provides 3 g of fiber, which is 10 percent of the daily recommended amount of fiber for adults.

Regarding vitamins and minerals, 1/3 cup cooked malanga provides the following proportions of daily recommended amounts:

  • potassium: 9 percent
  • phosphorus: 5 percent
  • magnesium: 5 percent

It also contains smaller amounts of vitamin C, calcium, iron, and folate.

Possible health benefits

There have not been many studies specifically looking at the health benefits of malanga. One study in rats did report that malanga may be a source of antioxidants.

However, malanga contains many components that have been associated with health benefits.

Cholesterol

Malanga contains insoluble fibre, which may help to manage and reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

While it is usually the root of the malanga plant that is eaten, one study looked at the benefits of consuming fiber from malanga leaves.

The leaves contain a type of fiber called insoluble fiber. This type of fiber has been associated with an improved digestive function, lower risk of colon cancer, and healthier weight.

In contrast, soluble fiber is mainly associated with blood pressure and cholesterol improvements.

All of the rats in the study were fed a high-fat diet, but some of the rats also received varying types of dietary fiber. At the end of the study, the rats that ate the malanga leaf had significantly lower total cholesterol levels than the other rats, despite the malanga containing mainly insoluble fiber.

The malanga root itself is also a good source of fiber. As mentioned above, 1/3 cup of cooked malanga contains 10 percent of an adult’s daily recommended amount of fiber.

review of studies found that eating more fiber is associated with significantly lower total and LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol levels. Since high cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease, eating more fiber may help protect against heart disease.

Weight

Besides its effects on blood cholesterol levels, dietary fiber may also play a role in weight management. This is important because obesity is a risk factor for many chronic diseases.

In the same study mentioned above, rats in the malanga leaf group gained less weight than the other groups.

review of studies found that a diet higher in fiber may help prevent weight gain. Adding malanga to a diet is one way to increase fiber intake.

Blood pressure

A 1/3 cup serving of cooked malanga provides 320 milligrams (mg) of potassium. Some studies have reported that there is an association between dietary potassium intake and blood pressure.

In one study, higher potassium intake was associated with a significantly lower risk of high blood pressure. This is important because high blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Potassium relaxes blood vessels, which lessens the work required by the heart to pump blood through the body.

How to incorporate malanga into a diet

Stew with meat and root vegetables.
Malanga can be used to replace potato and may be included in a variety of dishes, including stews.

There are many ways to include malanga into a diet. Malanga is available in many Latin American grocery stores, as well as some supermarket chains.

The vegetable needs to be washed, peeled and cooked before being eaten. People should not eat malanga raw.

Malanga has a similar texture as potatoes and can replace potatoes in many recipes. Malanga flour can also be used to replace wheat flour in baked goods.

Malanga is described as having a woody or earthy taste with a hint of nuts.

Boiled malanga can be mashed with milk and olive oil to make a tasty side dish. It is a natural thickener and can be added to soups and stews.

Recipe ideas

See below for recipes that use malanga:

Possible risks

Malanga is likely safe for most people, except for those who are allergic to it or have certain medical conditions.

In general, malanga is considered a well-tolerated food that is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction.

A 1/3 cup serving of cooked malanga has 320 mg of potassium. According to the National Kidney Foundation, foods that contain more than 200 mg of potassium per serving are considered high potassium.

Some people with kidney disease or those who take certain medications may need to limit high-potassium foods. Having too much potassium in the blood can cause dangerous side effects, such as abnormal heart rhythm and weakness.

Anyone who is concerned should check with their doctor to see if they need to limit potassium in their diet.

Overall, malanga provides many useful nutrients. Some of these nutrients may offer health benefits when included as part of a healthful diet.

Malanga is well-known in many parts of the world but not commonly eaten in others. As interest in regional cuisines grows, malanga may become even more widely available.

Although not a familiar taste for some, it is a versatile root vegetable that can be used in many recipes.

Mushrooms Boost Brain Power

If you’re a fan of mushrooms, rejoice! These nutritious little fungi have several known benefits to our health, including lowering your chance of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. And now, there appears to be yet another advantage to eating mushrooms. New research shows that they may help protect the brain from degenerative conditions such as dementia.

The study, which took place at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, found that regular consumption of certain types of mushrooms may be associated with brain changes that reduce the risk of developing dementia.1 After analyzing 10 different types of mushrooms, the investigators determined that they promoted the increased production of nerve growth factor in the brain, which contributes to the formation of new neurons in the gray matter, an important factor in our ability to retain and retrieve memories.

What kinds of mushrooms were most beneficial? Unfortunately, not the white or button types that many of us include on salads or add to pizza. But several—including lion’s mane and reishi—were shown to actually improve cognitive functioning. And Cordyceps, demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects in the brain, possibly enough to aid in staving off memory loss.

The list of brain-boosting mushrooms from the study is H. erinaceus, G. lucidum, Cordyceps, D. indusiata, G. frondosa, T. fuciformis Berk, Tricholoma, T. albuminosus, L. rhinocerotis, and Pleurotus. Many of these varieties can be found in specialty grocery stores or Asian food markets. To get some idea of what each of these mushrooms offer in taste and edibility, read on.

H. erinaceus
Lion’s Mane is similar in texture and flavor to seafood, so you can easily sauté it and base a great vegetarian meal around these mushrooms.

G. lucidum
Commonly called reishi, these versatile mushrooms are often used in tea. You can soak the dried mushrooms overnight, then remove them from the water and strain it. Boil the mushroom-enhanced water for flavorful tea. Another option for consumption is grilling reishi after soaking them overnight.

Cordyceps
Cordyceps is a popular ingredient in certain Chinese therapeutic soups. Often containing chicken and ginger as well, these soups are touted for their ability to strengthen the immune system, and cleanse the blood, liver, and kidneys.

D. indusiata
Reputed to be an aphrodisiac for women, this mushroom is a good source of protein and fiber. It has traditional uses in Chinese medicine and is a common ingredient in stir-fry dishes and soups.

G. frondosa
Also known as hen of the woods, this species of mushroom has an unusually delicate texture that appeals even to those who don’t find most mushrooms appealing. It is delicious sliced into large pieces and either sautéed or grilled.

T. fuciformis 
Another mushroom popular in China for both medicinal and culinary purposes, T. fuciformis is often used in soups with either beans or apples and figs.

Tricholoma
A form of the tricholoma mushroom is the matsutake. This is a meaty mushroom with a zesty flavor that lends itself well to steaming or grilling, and it pairs nicely with chicken or many kinds of fish.

T. albuminosus
Another meaty-flavored mushroom, T. albuminosus can be consumed without cooking. Whether eaten cooked or raw, it has a crunchy texture and may be boiled, grilled, steamed, or added to a soup.

L. rhinocerotis
Called the tiger milk mushroom, L. rhinocerotis is closely related to reishi mushrooms. It is used in medicinal practice in Malaysia and is often sliced and boiled before consumption.

Pleurotus
Also known as the oyster mushroom, this is one of the more common varieties on this list. Pleurotus is used in several Asian cuisines as a stand-alone dish or in soups and stir-fry meals.

Many of the positive health effects associated with these types of mushrooms are due to the presence of biochemicals called polysaccharides. Different variations of these polysaccharides in the mushrooms can help fight infections, prevent cancer, and improve kidney function.