Glycoproteins are molecules containing sugar and protein, which permit healthy cell-to-cell communication in the human body. Babies receive glycoproteins from their mothers' milk that hinder bacteria, viruses and even cancer cells. For those who want to ensure they are receiving glycoproteins in their diet, you can find a number of foods packed with these organic compounds. Since foods containing glycoproteins frequently cause food allergies, make sure you're not allergic to any of these foods before introducing them into your regular diet.
The benefits of glycoproteins are numerous. They act as blocking agents that prevent carcinogens both from attacking cells and from making changes to cells that have already been exposed to carcinogens. Many people make sure to include glycoproteins in their diet as a way to boost their immune systems and prevent or delay the spread of cancer.
Medicinal mushrooms, such as reishi, maitake, cordyceps, shiitake and oyster mushrooms, are an excellent source of glycoproteins. These mushrooms are used to boost the immune system, help with cell communication and even fight cancer. One study showed that Japanese mushroom pickers who frequently ate these types of mushrooms developed cancer 50 percent less frequently than non-mushroom pickers.
You can find glycoproteins in many fruits, from apples and pears to oranges and other citrus fruits. Pectins, often found in fruit, are a good source of glycoproteins. Coconuts, garlic, carrots, corn, radishes, leeks and tomatoes also provide glycoproteins. Ripe fruit, especially fruits that are allowed to ripen on the plant, will have a higher level of glycoproteins than unripe fruit.
Glycoproteins are also found in aloe vera, bran, oatmeal, barley, brown rice, wheat, red wine and meat. Echinacea and turmeric contain high levels of glycoproteins, as does the miracle fruit, or miracle berry. This latter fruit gains its name through its ability to turn sour foods sweet-tasting, and vice versa -- an effect of a glycoprotein that coats the tongue and alters the tastebuds for anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour after you eat it.
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Jen Morel has worked in the newspaper industry since 2007. An experienced backpacker, she is a contributor to "AMC Outdoors" and other hiking/environmental magazines. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in cognitive science and philosophy.