Sometimes it's best to stick to what you know. In their search for the next food-as-medicine superstar, researchers at the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmaceutical Research in Milan chose to investigate . . . pizza. Incredibly, they found that a bi-weekly feast of the Italian staple can reduce your risk of developing cancer of the oesophagus by 59 per cent, mouth cancer by 34 per cent and colon cancer by 26 per cent.
This was attributed to the antioxidant lycopene, found in the tomato base. The health benefits of lycopene have been served up in these pages many times before, but it’s when it’s enjoyed on top of your Margherita that the science gets really tasty.
It turns out that eating lycopene-slathered food that also contains plenty of fat – here in the form of your pizza’s mozzarella topping and your stuffed crust – significantly increases the antioxidant’s potency. As lycopene is fat soluble, all of that unctuous cheese helps you to absorb more cancer-fighting goodness with every mouthful.
The health benefits don’t stop there. Oregano, a common seasoning on pizza, possesses antibacterial as well as anti- inflammatory properties. According to researchers at Long Island University, its effects on cancer cells are an equal match to those of a super-spice like turmeric. Layer it all together on a crispy base and you’ve got exactly what the doctor ordered. Dr Oetker, presumably.