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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Mushrooms can beat swine flu

BOSTON - The ordinary white button mushroom can help you beat the swine flu with an immunity boost, researchers at Tufts University say.

This lowly fungus, which was thought for many years to have no medicinal or nutritional value, actually bolsters immunity systems, the researchers say.

The Tufts study, published in The Journal of Nutrition, showed that grocery-store button mushrooms have as much antioxidant oomph as more exotic Asian mushrooms, long-prized for their ability to heal and to prevent disease.

Common button mushrooms also contain polysaccharides and ergothioneine, along with other substances that jump-start the immune system. And they raise levels of cytokines, which are hormone-like proteins that help defend against viruses and tumors, the study found.

How many mushrooms are enough, and how should they be prepared? Holistic health counselor Margie King suggests one-half cup serving a day for full health benefits. You can add them to stews and soups or just put them in tossed salads, she says.

Dietitian Glenn Cardwell calls mushrooms one of nature’s “true superfoods” and says, “While it is always tempting to reach for a quick fix vitamin or medical supplement, real food alternatives, such as the mushroom, are a healthier long term choice.”

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