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See Daniluk's fast recipe using shiitakes at usaweekend.com.
See Daniluk's fast recipe using shiitakes at usaweekend.com. / Randy Mayor/Getty Images

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Sure, the shiitake mushroom is a brown fungus, but itís also a food that can fight infections and enhance your immune system.

ďThereís a pharmacy in food,Ē says Julie Daniluk, a registered holistic nutritionist and author of the June book Meals That Heal Inflammation, which includes reference charts and recipes. Here are her tips about just one anti-inflammatory food, the shiitake mushroom:

3 powers of shiitake

It fights the flu Shiitake mushrooms contain a compound called AHCC that boosts your immune response after youíve been exposed to the flu virus.

It slows aging. When your immune system is up to speed, Daniluk says, you slow the clock of aging.

It helps cancer patients. Shiitakes contain polysaccharides, which Daniluk says can help ease the nausea, pain and hair loss associated with chemotherapy and radiation.

2 buying tips

• The darker the mushroom, the healthier it is, Daniluk says.
• Donít fixate on fresh; dried shiitakes have the nutrients, too.

You're not a fan of mushrooms?

Daniluk says these foods also are infection fighters:

• Garlic
• Squash and pumpkins
• Papaya
• Sesame seeds

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