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Eating Shitake Mushrooms May Improve Immunity

Mushrooms are a versatile food that comes in several tasty varieties, including the popular shiitake, Portobello, brown and white mushrooms. At just about 20 calories per cup, mushrooms are packed with selenium and riboflavin and offer potential health benefits such as blood pressure regulation and cholesterol control. In particular, the shiitake mushroom has been linked to a 28% drop in overall cholesterol. Need another reason to add mushrooms to your daily diet? A 2015 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition finds eating mushrooms every day may help improve immunity.

Researchers from Florida and Brazil fed 52 adults shiitake mushrooms for four weeks. About half of the participants ate one serving (three ounces or about five medium mushrooms) per day, while the other group ate two servings per day. Data was combined for analysis.

Eating mushrooms for four weeks enhanced the spread and activation of white blood cells and resulted in an 11% increase in antibodies and a 30% reduction in levels of C-reactive Protein (CRP, a marker of inflammation). All of these beneficial factors point to improved immunity after eating mushrooms. Researchers suspect certain components of mushrooms act to prime the body’s immune cells, preparing the cells for a harmful stimulus and enhancing their ability to respond to infection.

Add mushrooms to your daily diet and you may reap these potential health benefits. Mushrooms are an excellent addition to casseroles, stir-frys, pasta and rice dishes. They are tasty on sandwiches and add unique texture to salads. If you are a meat-eater, try swapping in mushrooms instead—their hearty, meaty texture and umami flavor make them the perfect, healthier option in recipes. Skip the meat (and bun) altogether and try our Crimini Salad Burgers next time you fire up the grill.

Published June 1, 2015

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