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Selenium release

June 2012


Real men don't eat quiche...they eat mushrooms!

With Father’s Day on June 17, it’s a good time for some male indulgence but an even greater opportunity, amongst others, to evaluate the lifestyle and health risks of the men in our lives. And whilst research continues to show that heart attacks and prostate cancer are still two of the biggest male health risks, the good news is that there are amazing allies against heart attacks and prostate cancer. One of them, Fresh Mushrooms, are right there on your supermarket shelf, 365 days a year.

Let’s talk heart attacks…
The number of heart attacks in the U.S. could decline by up to 13% if adults could just slash their daily salt intake by 3 grams, or about 1,200 milligrams of sodium, according to a study, in the New England Journal of Medicine. The research confirms that excessive salt intake is associated with high blood pressure (or hypertension), which can damage the arteries and lead to heart disease, stroke, and other health problems.


Raised blood pressure (BP), the "silent killer" and is by far the largest cause of death in both developing countries and developed countries. In SA, hypertension rates are very high: 59% in the black population, 55% in the Indian and coloured population, and 50% in the white population. And the main causes (other than genetics) of raised blood pressure in populations? In order: high salt intake; lack of fruit and vegetables; excess weight; lack of exercise; and excessive alcohol consumption

With the recommended daily salt intake at between 4 and 6gms – mushrooms remain one of the best low-sodium food choices you can make. They contain a mere 14mg of sodium per 100gms! When one then considers the fact that a low salt diet allows between 400 - 1000 mg of sodium per day – the low sodium content of fresh mushrooms is even more impressive!

And onto prostate cancer…
Second to lung cancer, prostate cancer is still one of the most common cancers worldwide and there is growing evidence that lifestyle and diet changes – like cutting back on fat, especially saturated fat, eating more fruits and vegetables and increasing exercise – may reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Men need more selenium than women and are at greater risk of selenium deficiency as it is lost in the seminal fluid. Selenium deficiency occurs when there is less than a 40mcg intake of selenium per day.

Selenium came to the forefront of prostate cancer research when, in 1996, skin cancer patients were given selenium to learn whether it would prevent recurrence. It had no effect on skin cancer, but researchers noticed that it did decrease prostate cancer by more than 60%, which prompted further study.

So where do mushrooms come in? When it comes to selenium content, mushrooms surpass all other items in the produce category. On average, Selenium levels in mushrooms have been found to be above 10% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of 55mcg required to make a “good source” claim.

A serving of Portabellini mushrooms (between 80 and 100gm) provides almost a 1/3 of your daily value for selenium. Portabellas (big browns) and white button mushrooms are also good sources of the nutrient. With a significant amount of selenium in every serving, mushrooms could turn out to be an important (and appetizing!) ingredient in a cancer-fighting diet.

So there you have it! Now all you have to do is make sure that you throw a handful of mushrooms into every dish you serve!



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