The Active Ingredients in Mushroom | BETA-GLUCANS | Edible Mushrooms and Beta-Glucans | The Effect of Mushroom Beta-Glucans

The active ingredients in mushroom | BETA-GLUCANS | Edible Mushrooms and Beta-Glucans | The Effect of Mushroom Beta-Glucans


Beta-glucan molecules (or B-glucans) are one configuration of polysaccharide. As you will see, beta-glucans are found in abundance in mushrooms and are one reason why they strengthen the immune system. 

The term beta-glucan refers to the way that the sugar units are attached to one another in the polysaccharide chain. 

Each glucose molecule has six carbons, and the linkage between the different carbons can occur at any position. 

A polysaccharide in which the molecule at the first position is linked to the next molecule at the third position is called a 1-3 beta-glucan. Most betaglucans in mushrooms are of the 1-3 variety and known to boost the immune system. Plants, by contrast, mostly contain 1-4 beta-glucans.


A beta-glucan is a huge molecule. To see how large, consider penicillin, which has a molecular weight of 500 or more. 

Compounds found in plants can sometimes reach 45,000 or 50,000 molecular weight. 

The beta-glucan molecules found in mushrooms, however, are typically 1.5 to 2 million molecular weight. 

The size of mushroom beta-glucans has a lot to do with their value as immune-system stimulators, although the size and complexity of beta-glucan molecules also make it hard for scientists to study precisely why they are so beneficial to the immune system.

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