Sunday, January 22, 2012

Food as Medicine - Mushrooms

Mushrooms are great immune stimulants.  Consuming mushrooms regularly has been associated with decreased risk of breast, stomach and colorectal cancers.  In one recent Chinese study, women who ate at least 10 g of fresh mushrooms each day (about 1 mushroom) had a 64 percent decreased rate of breast cancer.

Shiitake, maitake, cremini, portabello, and oyster mushrooms all contain a compound called Lentinian which directly stimulates the reproduction and activity of immune cells.  These types of mushrooms are often used in Japan as a complement to chemotherapy to support the immune system.  Researchers at the University of Kyushu in Japan have shown that when these mushrooms are provided during or after chemotherapy, colon cancer patients live longer.

In addition to their immune and anti-cancer properties, they have also been shown to be anti-inflammatory, and contain aromatase inhibitors. Aromatase inhibitors are compounds that block the production of estrogen. These compounds are thought to be what is responsible for the preventive effects of mushrooms against breast cancer.  Regular consumption of dietary aromatase inhibitors is an excellent strategy for prevention and its been shown that all mushrooms - even white button ones - have a high anti-aromatase activity.

Recommendations for use:  add to soups; mix with other vegetables; use sliced raw or cooked in salads; oven grill them; "fry" them in a pan with a little water instead of oil; add them to beans seasoned with lemon juice and herbs.  They are also a great chewy alternative to meat.  Why not cut some up at the beginning of the week and cook them, and then you can use them throughout the week.

Mushroom Duxelle Recipe

Duxelle is a mixture of finely chopped mushrooms with onions and/or shallots and herbs. It is used as a stuffing, for sauces or as a topping.  Try making this healthy version and serving on top of polenta or mashed potato or....  Varying the type of mushroom obviously will create stronger or milder versions.  Try adding in some dried mushrooms, soaked in warm water before using, to give extra flavor.

10 ounces of mushrooms
1/4 cup shallots, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme or 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 cup dry white wine


  1. Finely chop the mushroom in a food processor.
  2. Heat 2 - 3 tablespoons water in a large skillet and water saute the chopped shallots of 1 minute.
  3. Add mushrooms and thyme and continue cooking until all the mushroom liquid has evaporated.
  4. Add wine and cook for an additional 4 minutes or until it has evaporated.
  5. Serve or use as desired.

What is your favorite mushroom recipe?


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