New research shows that eating mushrooms can help fight off infections and viruses by boosting the body's natural immune system. Mushrooms also improved hormone-like proteins called cytokines that play an important role in defending the body against viral infections and tumours.
The research, carried out at Tufts University in Massachusetts, America, studied what happened to people's immune systems after eating white button mushrooms.
Dietitian Glenn Cardwell welcomed the research, saying: "Laboratory research found the intake of mushrooms may promote innate immunity – the body's first line of defence – against viruses.
"Further studies involving influenza infection are now under way to test these findings."
Mr Cardwell said the current trials are examining the impact of different mushroom intake levels against the flu virus.
He added: "What they are essentially looking for is how mushrooms – one of Nature's true superfoods – can be used as a real food 'elixir of immunity' to help prevent influenza."
Mr Cardwell said concerns over the impact of influenza, particularly swine flu, highlighted the need to eat a balanced diet including foods that can naturally boost the immune system.
"While it is always tempting to reach for a quick fix vitamin or medical supplement, real food alternatives, such as the mushroom, are a healthier long term choice," he said.
The research has been published in The Journal of Nutrition. -Telegraph.co.uk