With winter on the way, so is the season for colds and flu, especially as this is when the swine flu outbreak is expected to reach its height. Good hygiene is important but eating mushrooms as part of a healthy balanced diet will also help boost your immune system, giving added protection.
Research carried out at Tufts University in Massachusetts found that a diet of mushrooms may promote innate immunity – the body’s first line of defence – against viruses. This involved feeding mice a diet of white button mushroom powder for 10 weeks and examined how mushroom intake was able to enhance the body’s own bug fighters, killer cells and cytokines, the latter being hormone-like proteins that play an important role in defending the body against viral infections and tumours*.
Leading UK dietician Dr Sarah Schenker commented: “Strong immunity depends on adequate intake of nutrients many of which are provided in good amounts by mushrooms. Now new research shows that mushrooms can help fight against viruses means that they should be an important component of a healthy and varied diet this winter.”
Mushrooms are a potent source of antioxidants and are packed with B vitamins and the essential minerals potassium, selenium and copper; they are low in fat and calories and their high water and fibre content makes them a filling and satisfying ingredient of any meal; and they contribute to our 5-a-day, helping to keep us healthy and feeling virtuous.