Research shows the power of mushrooms in fighting diseases in men. Picture: Pexels
Men, if you want flavour and health without calories and fat, mushrooms can be your best option.

While the expression that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” this is becoming true for mushrooms too with health experts advocating for a regular intake of mushrooms to keep the doctor at bay.

Research suggests that mushrooms aren’t just nutrient rich; they’re proven allies in the fight against heart attacks, obesity and prostate cancer, three major health risks for men.

As the country observes June as Men’s Health Month - a time that encourages men to focus on self-care and a healthy lifestyle - health fundis advise men should take this time to make their holistic health a priority, especially their diet.

And how do mushrooms benefit your health?

According to a 2015 study published in Cancer - an online portal for American Cancer Society - chemicals in mushrooms positively affect the body’s immune system.

Researchers treated 36 prostate cancer patients with white button mushroom powder, assessing their Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) level’s responsiveness to different doses of the powder, and whether the men experienced any ill effects.

After three months of daily use of the powder, 36% of patients experienced some reduction in PSA, with two patients experiencing a remarkable complete response, meaning their PSA levels dropped to undetectable levels. Of significance is that the complete response continued for 49 and 30 months.

The study author Professor Shiuan Chen, who is also the chairman of the Department of Cancer Biology at the Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, said the study concluded that therapy using white button mushrooms in this manner appeared to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

Mushroom expert Dr Martmari van Greuning, who serves on the council of the South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association believes that the power of protein in mushrooms should not be underestimated.

“It’s the type of protein found in mushrooms more than the quantity that should be considered,” she says.

Van Greuning explained that the common protein found in mushrooms is lectin.

“This protein binds to the surfaces of cancer cells preventing them from multiplying and it also stimulates production of insulin and therefore helps to control glucose levels.”

Furthermore, she says edible mushrooms contain beta-glucans which, according to some human studies, can provide protection against some types of cancer - including breast, skin, stomach and lung cancer.

Other protein and polysaccharides in mushrooms are found to have anti-viral and antibacterial properties thus complementing the immune system.

“One of the best muscle building vegetables that you should consider are mushrooms.”

So gentlemen, next time you write down your grocery list make sure mushrooms are added.