If you recall your Super Mario Brothers video game, Mario, a plumber, and his brother, Luigi, (also in the plumbing profession) grew stronger and bigger whenever they ate red and yellow mushrooms hidden inside bricks that they headbutted apart. Although that sounds like the most insane thing ever–video game logic skews towards absurdity–there is a nugget of truth hidden in an interactive story of siblings who travel by sewer pipe to fight a dragon. Mushrooms are good for you.
According to a new study out of the University of Florida, shiitake mushrooms may help boost the immune system. The participants in the study consumed a four-ounce serving of shiitake mushroom daily for four weeks. To ensure immune benefits weren’t coming from elsewhere, subjects could not be vegetarians and were forbidden to drink tea, use antioxidant supplements or probiotics during the course of the research. At the end of the trial, blood tests revealed better-functioning gamma delta T-cells and reductions in inflammatory proteins.
“If you eat a shiitake mushroom every day, you could see changes in their immune system that are beneficial,” said Percival, an Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty member. “We’re enhancing the immune system, but we’re also reducing the inflammation that the immune system produces.”