Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Shiitake Mushrooms - Why They're Good For You

Are you the type to turn your nose up on organic or weird-looking mushrooms like shiitake? If so, then you're missing a lot in terms of nutrients. Not only are shiitakes the tastiest of mushrooms, but they are actually loaded with nutrients that are really good for you.

Cultivated for more than 1,000 years, these meaty, tender Chinese mushrooms have long served as both food and medicine. They owe their reputation as immunity boosters to a type of carbohydrate called beta-glucans. Unlike other immunity nutrients, beta-glucans don't create or regulate cells within your immune system. Instead, they act as a kind of decoy, boosting your body's immune response. When you eat shiitakes, your immune system reacts as if a harmful substance is present and kicks into high gear to protect you. In a 2004 animal study of swine influenza virus, the group given beta-glucans before infection developed a much milder case of the flu than those untreated. While the swine flu virus study was not the same strain as the human H1N1 virus, the results show promise for beta-glucans' ability to prevent and treat the flu.

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