IMG_1016A mushroom a day keeps the doctor away. So says Dr. Joel Fuhrman M.D., a board-certified family physician, NY Times best-selling author and nutritional researcher who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional and natural methods.

In his book, Super Immunity, he writes that consuming mushrooms regularly is associated with decreased risk of breast, stomach, and colorectal cancers. In one recent Chinese study, women who ate at least 10 grams of fresh mushrooms each day (that’s only one mushroom per day!) had a 64% decreased risk of breast cancer. Even more dramatic protection was gained by women who ate 10 grams of mushrooms and drank green tea daily – an 89% decrease in risk for premenopausal women, and 82% for postmenopausal women. It doesn’t matter what kind of mushroom: white, cremini, Portobello, oyster, shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms all have anti-cancer properties – and some are anti-inflammatory, stimulate the immune system, prevent DNA damage, and slow cancer cell growth. Just make sure you cook them first.

Miso, a paste made from fermented soybeans, is another powerhouse when it comes to breast cancer protection. A team of researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that laboratory animals whose diets were enhanced with miso had a lower incidence of breast cancer and a slower growth rate of cancer cells. Miso is a particularly valuable food for vegans. The bacteria in miso synthesize vitamin B12, a difficult nutrient to obtain from diets that don’t contain animal products. It’s also a concentrated protein source, with just one tablespoon containing a full two grams.

Japanese traditionally eat miso soup for breakfast. I prefer it for lunch- this recipe makes 3-4 good-sized servings to eat throughout the week. This may sound strange, but when I eat this soup I actually feel like it has medicinal qualities. (And no, I haven’t been consuming any “magic mushrooms”.) If you want to “beef” up the soup a bit for a dinner meal, you could add tofu, spinach, kale, brown rice, noodles or pretty much anything else that you like. January is officially Mushroom Month at our house- I’ll be working on some other recipes that feature this amazing little fungus.

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Miso Soup

  • 2 Tbsp canola or olive oil
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger root, minced
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 lb mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped cabbage
  • 5 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons miso (yellow, red or brown)
  • 2 green onions, chopped (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon roasted sesame oil (optional)

  1. Heat oil in large pot. Wipe mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel, slice them and add them to the pot. Sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes, then add ginger, garlic and onion. Cook for another 5 minutes and then add carrots and cabbage. Stir well.
  2. Add water, bring to a boil over high heat, then lower heat and simmer covered until carrots are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Place miso in a bowl, add a little of the broth from the soup, and stir into a smooth paste. Add more broth to thin the mixture, then add the miso to the soup. Let rest for a few minutes. (Miso should never be boiled.)
  4. Serve in bowls with chopped raw green onions and a few drops of roasted sesame oil.