According to research, adding a handful of mushrooms to your risotto, omelet, or pasta could prevent cancer.
Scientists at Penn State University analyzed 17 studies with more than 19,500 participants between them.
The results suggest that eating 18g of mushrooms per day reduced the risk of developing some form of cancer by just over a third (34%).
Mushrooms are rich in the “unique and potent” antioxidant ergothionein.
Read more: Student overcomes testicular cancer after noticing ‘pea-sized lump’
While “superfood” varieties like shiitake and royal oyster contain more ergothionein, the easier-to-find white button and portobello mushrooms also have anti-cancer properties, scientists say.
“Mushrooms are the highest dietary source of ergothionein, which is a unique and powerful antioxidant and cell protector,” said study author Djibril Ba, a graduate student.
“Replenishing antioxidants in the body can help protect against oxidation [internal] stress and reduce the risk of cancer. “
Read more: Cancer killer virus shows promise for inoperable skin tumors
One in two people born after 1960 in the UK will statistically develop cancer at some point in their life.
Although often unavoidable, the disease can sometimes be prevented by living a healthy lifestyle, such as eating a nutritious diet, not smoking, and exercising regularly.
Watch: How to cook morels
To better understand the cancer-fighting potential of fungi, scientists analyzed studies conducted between 1966 and 2020.
Overall, participants with the highest consumption of mushrooms were 34% less likely to develop some form of cancer than those with the lowest consumption, the results show.
When it comes to breast cancer specifically, which most of the 17 studies focused on, the risk was reduced by 35%.
High consumption of mushrooms has been found to reduce the risk of non-breast cancer by 20%. This less marked reduction in risk is likely due to studies focusing largely on breast cancer, according to Ba.
“The association between a higher consumption of mushrooms and a lower risk of cancer, especially breast cancer, may indicate a potential protective role of fungi in the diet,” the scientists wrote in the journal Advances in Nutrition. .
Read more: Nearly 11,000 undiagnosed breast cancer cases in UK due to pandemic
They pointed out that the 17 studies varied in the way they were conducted, with some requiring participants to remember their mushroom consumption, leaving room for inaccuracies.
Nonetheless, co-author Professor John Richie said: “Overall, these results provide important evidence for the protective effects of fungi against cancer.
“Future studies are needed to better understand the mechanisms involved and the specific cancers that could be affected.”
Watch: John Travolta Opens Up About Losing Wife Kelly Preston To Cancer