Saturday, April 4, 2009

Book Stall Review: Mushrooms as Functional Foods

Mushrooms as Functional Foods
by Peter C. Cheung. Wiley-Interscience, 2008.

First introduced in Japan in the mid-1980s, the concept of "functional foods" suggests that foods are more than mere nutrients, but can have potent effects on the bodily functions of people who consume them. There is now worldwide interest in "food bioactives" that promote good health and disease prevention.

Functional foods from plants (oats, soy, flaxseed, broccoli, tomatoes, red wine, garlic) and animal sources (fish, dairy) have received considerable attention. Only recently have mushrooms become recognized for their anticancer, antiviral, immunopotentiating and hypocholesterolemic potential.

"Recently, many studies have found that edible mushrooms possess potent antioxidants," editor Peter Cheung points out. "Results indicate that mushrooms can be used as a potential dietary source of phenolic antioxidants to enrich the endogenous antioxidant status of the human body."

In six topical chapters, this comprehensive volume documents the nutritional value and health benefits of eating mushrooms, examines current methods of mushroom cultivation, and takes a careful look at the scientific evidence for anti-tumor actions in mushroom polysaccharides.

A useful reference for students, scientists, health care professionals, and food therapists, the book covers current trends in mushroom cultivation and research, including truffles, morels, and newly cultivated varieties.

A final chapter details regulatory issues regarding the use of mushrooms as functional foods and dietary supplements.

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