White button mushrooms are the most widely available and commonly consumed mushroom. All types of mushroom are health-beneficial but recent research has now confirmed that white button mushrooms also play a powerful role in keeping the immune system healthy.
Scientists conducted an animal-model and cell-culture study showing that white button mushrooms enhanced the activity of critical cells in the body's immune system.
The results suggest that white button mushrooms may promote immune function by increasing production of proteins that fight disease-causing pathogens.
The study's cell-culture phase showed that white button mushrooms enhanced the maturity of immune system cells called "dendritic cells," from bone marrow.
Dendritic cells can make T cells - important white blood cells that can recognize and eventually deactivate or destroy antigens (any substances that cause the immune system to respond) on invading microbes. These cells are therefore crucial to a strong and healthy immune system.
When immune system cells are exposed to disease-causing pathogens, such as bacteria, the body begins to increase the number and function of immune system cells, according to the researchers. People need an adequate supply of nutrients to produce an adequate defense against the pathogen. The key is to prevent deficiencies that can compromise the immune system.
The research found that the immune system boosting effect of white button mushrooms was related to dosage - the more mushrooms, the more pronounced the immune response.
Other health Benefits of Mushrooms
All varieties of edible mushrooms are health beneficial. These versatile vegetables contain more protein and selenium than most other vegetables, and provide a good source of phosphorous, potassium, and vitamin B12.
Previous research has found that white mushroom extract helps to prevent cancer growth. Out of seven vegetable extracts tested, white mushrooms were the most effective in inhibiting aromatase, an enzyme associated with breast cancer growth.
Mushrooms can be eaten raw or cooked. Add them to stir-fries, soups, salads, meat dishes and other main courses.
Research Paper Details:
Ren Z, Guo Z, Meydani SN, Wu D. White Button mushroom Enhances Maturation of Bone Marrow-Derived Dendritic Cells and Their Antigen Presenting Function in Mice. Journal of nutrition, 2008; 138: 544-550.
Chen S et al. Anti-Aromatase Activity of phytochemicals in White Button Mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus). Cancer Research 66, 12026, December 15, 2006.