Mushrooms for Cancer Prevention and Mental Wellbeing - NFCR


Mushrooms for Cancer Prevention and Mental Wellbeing

The next time you make a salad, you may want to consider adding mushrooms to it – because these magical fungi have anticancer and emotional wellbeing benefits. 

Mushrooms are rich in vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants. Recent research shows that these superfoods may also help guard against cancer. Even though shiitake, oyster, maitake, and king oyster mushrooms have higher amounts of the amino acid ergothioneine than the white button, cremini, and portabello mushrooms, the researchers found that people who incorporated any variety of mushrooms into their daily diets had a lower risk of cancer. According to the findings, individuals who ate 18 grams of mushrooms daily had a 45% lower risk of cancer than those who did not eat mushrooms.

Cancer Prevention & Wellbeing

Cancer prevention isn’t the only area where the funky fungi excel. In a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, researchers examined data on 24,000 U.S. adults, tracking their dietary habits and mental health changes over 11 years. They found that those who ate more mushrooms had a 43% lower risk of developing depression in that timeframe compared to people who didn’t eat mushrooms at all. 

The reason mushrooms can positively impact mental wellbeing is that mushrooms have an abundance of beneficial nutrients, including vitamin B12, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory amino acids. Having high levels of these compounds may lower the risk of oxidative stress leading to a reduction of symptoms of depression.

Oxidative Stress and Cancer

Oxidative stress is an imbalance in the body that happens when you produce too much of what’s called free radicals. Free radicals cause inflammation and lead to an imbalance when you don’t have enough antioxidants in the body to counteract them. That’s why eating foods high in antioxidants is such a booster for your health, as it brings the oxidative stress level down.

In 1985, National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR)-funded researcher Dr. Helmut Sies established the concept of oxidative stress. He found that an imbalance between oxidants and antioxidants in favor of the oxidant leads to redox signaling and control disruption and can cause molecular damage. This molecular damage can instigate cancer growth. As such, Dr. Sies committed his career to learn how food consumption (like mushrooms) can counteract oxidative stress. Learn more about which foods reduce oxidative stress by visiting NFCR’s Cancer-Fighting Foods blog section.

Additional Reads You May Enjoy:

Cancer-Fighting Lifestyle Recipe: Vegetable Pho with Shiitake Mushrooms

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Cancer Patient Suicide Risk Higher Than General Population

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