We’ve been talking about mushrooms lately, with a basic shopping primer and a new recipe for Mushroom Sauté with Toasted Walnuts.

But did you know that, while mushrooms have been used medicinally in Eastern medicine for centuries, Western medicine is now beginning to pay more attention to their scientifically demonstrated healing properties?

“Shiitakes are one of the three types of wild mushrooms with the greatest health benefits,” says nutritionist and registered dietitian Karen Collins, a consultant for the American Institute for Cancer Research. “Research suggests that shiitake mushrooms have a potent immune-stimulating effect, including improved resistance to infections, liver protection and cardiovascular benefits.”

Cultivated mushrooms (buttons and crimini) also have anticancer properties, as well as small amounts of calcium and vitamin B12, Collins notes. Cook with them, she says, and “you are doing a kindness to your body and your palate, as well.”

Tune in tomorrow for another great mushroom recipe, featuring ingredients available at your local natural and organic food store.

Book Pick of the Day: A Cook’s Book of Mushrooms: With 100 Recipes for Common and Uncommon Varieties