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mushrooms & breast cancer

A snap from a recent  cooking class

A snap from a recent cooking class

Us dietitians tend to view nutrition claims with scepticism. That's just the way we have been trained. We want hardcore, quality evidence before we put our hands on our chests and shout from the rooftops that an eating pattern or food will benefit us. It's just the way we are. I guess it stops us from spreading BS about food and nutrition right?

Sometimes however I think we can be too sceptical, er on the side of caution, or forget the bigger picture of what we are all trying to achieve - we want everyone to be eating more fresh, minimally processed foods right? So anyway, when a deititian hears that MUSHROOMS may indeed kill breast cancer cells, may in fact reduce cognitive decline and risk of dementia, can provide 100% of our vitamin D needs and will likely improve blood glucose levels we automatically back up and think waaaaaaaaait-a-minute! What evidence is there for these claims?

Now I have been watching the mushroom scene for some time now (yes, I believe there is a scene). I have been following research from Australian Mushroom Growers, taking opportunities to listen to people speak about mushrooms, and passing on the messages by blowing peoples mind with my 'mushroom facts' during cooking classes (and I mean BLOWING. PEOPLES. MINDS).  

I went to another update on mushrooms last Saturday. This event was hosted by Australian Mushroom Growers and we were lucky enough to have a presentation on nutrition and mushrooms by renowned dietitian, Glen Cardwell and be treated to a cooking demonstration by the lovely Janelle Bloom. The research around mushrooms is quite compelling with us dietitians even having enough proof to promote them more and more. I really wanted to share my favourite pieces of information from the day to prompt you all to add more mushies to your diet.

Breast and prostrate cancer

Talking about breast cancer and mushrooms is on the top if my priority list. We all know someone who has been affected by breast cancer. Now I'm not going to tell you how you can cure breast cancer, but I'm going to share what we know. Three studies have found a link between eating mushrooms and reducing breast cancer risk by more than 50%. A meta-analysis (where studies are pulled together and reviewed) that looked at 10 observational studies states: 'The protective effects of mushroom intake on risk of breast cancer were consistently exhibited in premenopausal and postmenopausal women.' The protective effect was clear at 150g of mushrooms per week (that is the equivalent of 5 medium sized button mushrooms). Now these studies are OBSERVATIONAL (not experimental clinical trials) meaning researchers can't 100% put their hands on their chests and shout from the rooftops that mushrooms reduce breast cancer risk. But these studies are enough for me to encourage women to eat more mushrooms. Eating more vegetables is never a bad thing anyway! 

Other research shows that mushrooms can kill breast cancer cells AND contain compounds that can reduce breast and prostate cancer cell growth and proliferation. All of these findings have triggered further research to find out how these compounds in mushrooms actually act on cancer cells. FACINATING and EXCITING!

Other fun facts

I could honestly talk about the latest research all day so I encourage you to check out the Australian Mushroom Growers website for all of the info, but here are my fav fast facts:

  • Mushrooms can generate bioavailable vitamin D. This means your body will actually absorb and use the vitamin D, which is essential for bone health and other important body functions. This fact is important as it's really difficult to get vitamin D from others foods, and after winter (remember how much you hibernated), our vitamin D levels are generally low. Either look for vitamin D mushrooms in the supermarket (these are limited) or put your mushrooms in the midday sun for about an hour after you buy them. Just 100g a day (equivalent to 3 button mushrooms) will give you 100% of your vitamin D needs. 
  • Mushrooms can reduce plaque build up in the brain which will reduce cognitive decline.
  • Mushrooms have a savoury flavour called umami, coming from a high level of natural glutamates. When glutamates are high in a dish the amount of salt and fat can be dramatically reduced (by about 40%) without affecting the overall flavour of the dish - because flavour is important!
  • The mushroom is neither a plant or an animal - they really come from their own kingdom! 

Hopefully I have attracted you to the mushroom scene. If you come from a family who don't like mushrooms, Australian Mushroom Growers are working on a campaign to develop blended recipes using mushrooms and mince. We were lucky enough to taste some of these recipes on Saturday and they were delicious! 

Here are is a some snap from Saturday. 

Pork and mushroom sang choy bow made with 400g of blended mushrooms 

Pork and mushroom sang choy bow made with 400g of blended mushrooms 

We also walked away with a bag of mushrooms so this week I used them to make:

  • chicken, mushroom, leek and thyme risotto,
  • mushroom, thyme and goats cheese on toast and
  • salmon, dill and mushroom pie.

What's your favourite way to use mushrooms?

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