By Karen Sherwood for NutritiousAmerica.com
Mushrooms have long been considered a medicinal food in eastern cultures, touted for their anti-inflammatory properties and range of micronutrients.
Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s new book, “Super Immunity, The Essential Guide for Boosting Your Body’s Defenses to Live Longer, Stronger, and Disease Free,” presents new research on multiple foods including mushrooms. Specifically mushrooms in relation to their immunity boosting and cancer preventative properties.
WHAT’S SO GREAT ABOUT MUSHROOMS?
Mushrooms contain three important compounds that make them cancer fighting soldiers — Anitgen Binding Lectins, Aromatase Inhibitors, and Anti-Angiogenic Properties. Big words with really big fighting power.
Mushrooms contain ABL, Antigen Binding Lectins, proteins which bind to abnormal cancer cells and activate the bodies defense system against them. ABL also works to be sure that the body does not replicate abnormal cells hence preventing the spread of cancerous cells and tumors.
In relation to breast cancer, mushrooms help the body reduce the level of estrogen and prevent estrogen from stimulating breast tissue through compounds called aromatase inhibitors. Estrogen plays an important role in the development of breast cancer, so mushrooms certainly have a protective effect.
Dr. Fuhrman explains Angiogenesis inhibitors as:
“A substance that inhibits angiogenesis (the growth of blood vessels.) Every solid tumor needs to generate the growth of new blood vessels to feed itself once it reaches a certain size. Thus an angiogenesis inhibitor acts, indirectly, to slow or prevent the growth of a tumor.”
In other words, a preventative strategy to starve cancers while they are still harmless. As an added bonus, angiogenesis inhibitors also prevent fat growth. Eating mushrooms as part of a healthy diet also encourages a healthy weight.
HOW MANY MUSHROOMS DO I NEED TO EAT TO BENEFIT?
This is the really important part: Some studies suggest that by eating just ONE mushroom per day, or 10 grams, a woman reduces her risk of breast cancer by a staggering 64%. One mushroom a day!
MUSHROOMS PLAY WELL WITH OTHERS:
Mushrooms have even more fighting power when combined with other foods. Eat one mushroom per day plus one serving of green vegetables plus one cup of green tea and you just reduced your risk of breast cancer by 89%. October should be called “mushroom, green vegetable, and green tea month” rather than breast cancer awareness month alone. We are all already aware, we need to focus on prevention. A healthy diet is the most accessible and best tool we have to prevent breast cancer.
WHICH MUSHROOMS SHOULD I EAT?
Although old studies suggested that the common white button mushroom contained little nutrients, new studies say all mushrooms (even those grocery store white button guys) have anti-cancer properties. A mixture is best because each mushroom contains its own unique cocktail of benefits. White button, white stuffing, cremini, portobello, reishi, and maitake have the highest anti-aromatase activity, with shitake, chanterelle, and baby button bringing up the rear.
HOW SHOULD I EAT THEM?
Mushrooms should always be consumed cooked.
When cooking mushrooms start with a very hot skillet, add a small amount of olive oil toss in the mushrooms and allow the mushrooms to sear and turn brown, this will take 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, fresh thyme, sea salt and black pepper for a delicious cancer fighting treat!
A few mushroom recipe ideas include:
Eat mushrooms as part of a diet rich in nutrient dense foods. Dr. Fuhrman encourages a “Nutritarian diet,” a term he coined to reflect a health promoting diet high in micronutrients. The best take away from “Super Immunity” is this helpful acronym: Eat your GOMBBS. Eat your GREENS, ONIONS, MUSHROOMS, BEANS, BERRIES AND SEEDS to give your body the best defense against sickness.