Doctor's Note

The immune-boosting fruit and vegetable video I reference is Boosting Immunity through Diet. See also Kale & the Immune System and Sleep & Immunity.

The balance between immune function and cancer is not always as straightforward as I noted; see my video series that begins with Cancer as an Autoimmune Disease.

More about mushroom magic in:

Probably best to eat cooked, though (see Toxins in Raw Mushrooms?).

How else to decrease inflammation? See:

What can we do about allergic diseases? See:

And if amla is not your old friend, become acquainted:

Check out my associated blog posts for additional context: Vitamin D from Mushrooms, Sun, or Supplements?Mushrooms & Immunity; and Probiotics during Cold Season?

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  • elsie blanche

    Really cool. Thanks, Dr. Greger. I’m hoping that with time you are able
    to find other foods that have this same and or similar effect
    as the mushrooms and amla do. A very interesting study and topic
    to start the week! Thanks.

  • Plantstrongdoc

    Now I am looking even more forward to my pasta with mushrooms tonight!!!

  • Merio

    Curious… in Italy there is a great culture of mushrooms(especially in autumn)… and even i really appreciate a cup of rice with boletus edulis… now i’ve only to find if the way i eat my mushroom is okay with the findings of the studies…

  • Fly

    Should the mushrooms be cooked? I love them raw

    • Thea

      Funny, I only like them cooked.

      Unfortunately for you, I believe that eating the mushrooms cooked is the better idea. Check out this video from Dr. Greger:

      • “Feeding studies using mushrooms and mushroom extracts have in general provided no evidence of toxicological effects of agaritine or mushroom consumption, in contrast to results of studies which have administered non-physiologically relevant concentrations of chemically synthesized hydrazine derivatives to mice. The available evidence to date suggests that agaritine from consumption of cultivated A. bisporus mushrooms poses no known toxicological risk to healthy humans.”

        Roupas, Peter, et al. “Mushrooms and agaritine: A mini-review.” Journal of Functional Foods 2.2 (2010): 91-98.

        • Thea

          Interesting!!! That’s good news to the people who prefer them raw. Thanks for the additional info.

  • Wegan

    So this is the same mushroom that you need to freeze, thaw, boil, discard the water to remove the carcinogen. I’m guessing that would get rid of the good stuff too.

  • Coacervate

    The subjects in the active group (n = 12, 41.4 ± 11.3 y old) consumed 100 g of blanched WBM daily with their normal diet for 1 wk,” Why were they blanched? Are these the same kind of mushrooms that are toxic in the raw state?

    • HereHere

      I would suspect the blanching would be to kill external bacteria. I know white button mushrooms are grown on manure normally. Even though it would be well-composted, perhaps bacteria (or viruses) can survive and contaminate the mushroom. Shiitake and oyster mushrooms are grown on wood substrates. I’m not sure about other mushrooms, like the brown/portabello, etc.

  • Thea

    I’m curious if that cup of mushrooms is a measured cup cooked or a measured cup after cooked.

    I LOVE mushrooms, but I rarely get a whole cup of cooked mushrooms as part of my daily diet. I tend to consume 1 to 2 packages of 10 ounces worth of raw mushrooms each week. (I cook them before eating.) That seems like a lot right there to me…

    Great video! Thanks for all the background info.

  • Barbara

    Hi Dr. Greger,

    Get your videos daily and so appreciate all the
    information and take it to heart.

    I’m a vegetarian, 10 years and a vegan for 2 years.
    Eat 5 times a week, oyster and enoki mushrooms
    and have been for years. Diagnosed with Alopecia
    Areata last week. The autoimmune system is attacking
    the hair follicles I am told.

    Diet was not an issue per the derma doc but again
    most docs don’t address ones diet but happily give
    prescriptions for meds and wish me a happy day!

    My question to you, can eating too many mushrooms
    as I do, compromise the immune system into overdrive?

    Thank you,


  • NF-κB is a master transcription factor for the inflammatory response, and this review details some of the mushroom compounds that inhibit this pathway.

    Petrova, R., et al. “Fungal metabolites modulating NF-kappa B activity: An approach to cancer therapy and chemoprevention (Review).”Oncology reports 19.2 (2008): 299.

    Past work points to the caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE), which blocks NF-κB binding to DNA, as the active agent in white button mushrooms.

  • OutsideMom

    How much mushrooms must one eat to gain the benefits of mushrooms in the diet? I’m not a fan of mushrooms but maybe I can hide them in some of my food. And must they be eaten daily or can I have them a couple times a week and be okay?

    • HereHere

      The research suggests to me that if you eat a pound a day for a week, you can skip a week and still get the outstanding benefits. Since there is no research (presumably) on minimum dose or frequency, I would aim for even a small amount each day. Since we have varied diets, that may be hard to do, but even eating mushrooms more frequently should help the immune system. At a minimum, once per two weeks, but because we are likely to consumer lower doses than in the study, more frequent consumption would be wise. As for taste, I do think they are an acquired taste, so try them with your favorite herbs, seasonings, etc. until you find a few ways you like them. I enjoy them steamed with my veggies, but they can be bland that way. Pan-fried with garlic and salt is usually a big hit with people. Depending on how crowded your fry pan is, they will turn out either soft or browned. Good luck with your mushroom adventures!

  • Anonymous

    To get the benefits of mushrooms do they have to be cooked as I prefer them raw.
    thank you,

  • Ronald Chavin

    Australian researchers say that the “fresh” mushrooms eaten in the following study were mostly only white button mushrooms and that the “dried” mushrooms eaten in the following study were mostly only shiitake mushrooms:

    Although the dried shiitakes were not as spectacular in preventing breast cancer in Chinese women as the freshly-eaten white buttons, freshly-eaten shiitakes might outperform freshly-eaten white buttons in another study – we don’t know:

    The 2 reasons why Dr. Greger advises us to boil white buttons before eating them is because: (1)all Agaricus mushrooms, including white button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) and the Brazilian mushrooms known as “mushroom of God” (Agaricus blazei) are high in cancer-causing agaritine, which can be deactivated only by boiling in hot water (or by canning). (2)white button mushrooms usually have pathogenic, Gram-negative, horse manure bacteria on the top, which can be killed by boiling in hot water but the bacterial endotoxins cannot be eliminated and will enter the human bloodstream even after the horse manure bacteria are completely killed by boiling in hot water or by the hydrochloric acid in the human stomach. It might be better to eat white button mushrooms fresh (raw) despite these 2 formidable disadvantages because the overall net health benefit is greater.

    Shiitake mushrooms, on the other hand, can be safely eaten fresh because they don’t contain much cancer-causing agaritine or horse manure. However, freshly-eaten shiitakes can cause rare, allergic skin reactions in Asians (but never in Caucasians).

    As for pyrogallol, one website says that smoked foods are extremely high in pyrogallol and that pyrogallol causes DNA damage:

  • joyce

    i am appreciative of the information you give so freely…obviously not looking for monetary gain…thankyou!!

  • Sara

    My daughter was recently diagnosed with Lupus and has been put on medication. Do you have a particular recommendation for her?

  • marlene

    wish I had the answer for an ongoing inflamation of bones..major health foods ..never deviate…..

  • eldueno

    Will cooking food with a couple of pennys provide enough zinc in the diet?

  • Katharine

    will eating canned or dehydrated mushrooms give the same benefits or do they need to be fresh?

  • wfeign

    Do you know anything about Black Fungus for reducing LDL cholesterol?

  • Bill52

    I’m wondering if you have any information on ‘chaga’ – a wild mushroom/fungus which grows on infected birch trees?

    • Maxcat13

      I don’t see an answer to this question , I also want info on Chaga as it is supposed to have immune boosting properties and possibly anti cancer if you look at it;s use in Russia

  • macrumpton

    My problem with mushrooms is that I can never eat enough to prevent a significant portion from rotting. My solution was to dry the mushrooms at 200°f and then grind them in my blender into a powder. That powder is easy to sprinkle on just about anything and it does not rot. The strong mushroom flavor only seems to come out from cooking it, so I can add it to salad dressings and even smoothies, and adding it to soups and sauces of all types is a no brainer.

    My question is am I compromising the healthy benefits by drying and grinding them?

  • cooperbry

    My Mom was recently diagnosed with Polymyalgia Rheumatica and Temporal Arteritis. What can she do to help reduce inflammation and help her reduce the amount of steroids she needs to take ?

  • jan

    thanks for this but what aout the natural toxin in mushrooms called agaritine? in some readings it can cause cancer but it is a weak carcinogen. how much of it can a human eat before it causes disease?