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Dr. Weil’s Favorite Foods: Asian Mushrooms


Beneath their humble exteriors, mushrooms are packed with healthy benefits. Many edible species contain polysaccharides - powerful anticancer compounds - which appear to boost both the activity and number of the body's natural-killer cells.

The fungi listed below are readily available in grocery or Asian specialty stores, and are good sources of polysaccharides. They are all delicious as well, so you can begin adding these mushrooms to your diet as ingredients in favorite recipes, or as a separate dish. In addition, if you've been diagnosed with cancer or are at high risk for it, Dr. Weil recommends supplementing with extracts from one or more of these medicinal mushrooms. Combining several species may be even more helpful.  

  1. Enoki (Flammulina veluptipes). Japanese farmers who grow (and regularly eat) this mushroom have unusually low rates of cancer, perhaps because enoki contains a compound called flammulin that has significant anti-tumor properties.
  2. Maitake (Grifola frondosa). According to Japanese research, this mushroom shows strong anti-cancer activity; it may also help fight viruses, boost immunity, and lower blood pressure and blood sugar.
  3. Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum). This mushroom appears to inhibit the growth of cancerous tumors and boost immune function. Perhaps that's why the Chinese and Japanese consider it a longevity food.
  4. Royal sun agaricus (Agaricus blazei).  Oncologists in both Japan and Brazil use this mushroom in treatment protocols. It may have significant anti-tumor action. 
  5. Shiitake (Lentinula edodes). Growing in popularity, this mushroom is now found in many supermarkets. That's good news, since it appears to have the ability to fight cancerous tumors.
  6. Zhu ling (Polyporus umbellatus). This mushroom may be particularly useful in the fight against lung cancer: There's evidence that it helps stimulate the body's immune response against lung tumors. It may also help counteract the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.

What Mushroom is Your Favorite? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed the health benefits of some common mushrooms: Mushrooms for Good Health? Check out the article and let us know which mushroom is your favorite to eat.