When it comes to getting in your daily recommended servings of veggies, it might be worth it to try a pizza or pasta with mushrooms, because these powerful fungi could actually slash your cancer risk in the process. (Not to mention, they taste great!)
Scientists from Penn State took a look at 17 different studies from 1966 to 2020 that observed mushroom intake and cancer risk from over 19,500 participants. In their Advances in Nutrition report this year, they noted that eating around 18 grams of any kinds of mushrooms a day (which equals out to roughly one-eighth to one-fourth of a cup) can cut a person’s risk of any cancer by a whopping 45 percent. More specifically, breast cancer risk was slashed 35 percent.
Why are mushrooms so magical for cancer prevention? You can thank a very powerful antioxidant called ergothioneine. It fights harmful compounds called free radicals that damage cells over time and increase your chances of developing cancer. It also enables the body to withstand oxidative stress over time. In other words, it keeps your cells healthy, strong, and functioning as you age.
Researchers note that some studies over that half-century period may have a few inaccuracies, given that some of them asked participants to recall their own mushroom consumption from memory, which could leave room for error. They’re also taking a closer look at if certain types of mushrooms are more effective than others. That said, they believe in the strong connection between mushrooms and lower cancer risk, and they hope that future work can look into mushrooms’ effects when it comes to specific cancers.