A higher consumption of mushrooms, of all types, is associated with a lower risk of cancer. This is what emerges from a recent scientific research published in the journal Advances in Nutrition by an American team of the Penn State College of Medicine (Ba et al, Advances in Nutrition, March 2021).
The anticancer properties of mushrooms, the experiment
The researchers analyzed studies carried out from 1966 to 2020. In all, the data of 20,000 people were taken into consideration, assessing their state of health and food choices. What emerged is that those who consumed more mushrooms had a lower risk of developing tumors. In particular, the daily consumption of 18 grams of mushrooms is linked to a 45% decrease in the risk of cellular degeneration. This protective effect has been observed with all types of mushrooms, such as shiitake, champignon, oyster, king oyster and maitake mushrooms.
At the base the action of an amino acid with antioxidant power
Mushrooms are a precious source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Above all, they are a source of ergothioneine, a very special amino acid, with powerful antioxidant properties and capable of protecting cells. As pointed out by the authors of the study, it is precisely the presence of ergothioneine that gives mushrooms their anticancer properties. Ergothioneine is present in greater quantities in shiitake, maitake, king oyster and oyster mushrooms but, despite this, all varieties of mushrooms have been shown to protect health against cancer.
Other studies will have to follow to understand the exact mechanism of action. At the moment, however, it can certainly be a good choice to add mushrooms to soups, salads, filling of omelettes or as a tasty side dish.