Last Updated on March 14, 2021 by James Matthews
The therapeutic benefits, medicinal properties, and superfood benefits of functional mushrooms have been known for hundreds of years. With a heightened demand for natural solutions to health, their reputation is on the rise.
If you are a follower of the wellness culture, there is a good chance that you have heard of functional mushrooms. Influencers have been adding them to recipes, coffee, and many more via an extracted powder. This may leave you with a few questions before you make a purchase. What are functional mushrooms? And what do they actually do?
Different Kinds of Functional Mushrooms and Their Effects
A functional mushroom has nutritional benefits, like many others you are familiar with. But they have an additional effect that supports overall health. This can be through a variety of ways that we will cover shortly.
A leader in the industry estimated that over 2000 mushrooms are edible or medicinal and only 15 hold the functional mushroom title. Below we have compiled a list of the 10 that you are most likely to see and some of their characteristics.
Reishi was named for longevity and spirituality. It is also called the Queen. This mushroom is one to keep an eye out for, especially since it has been an integral part of Chinese society for around 2000 years.
Some common benefits include an immune system boost, a stress reducer, and enhanced quality of sleep. It is able to adapt to your body’s stress and normalize its functions to restore homeostasis.
This is one that you may have seen in a picture due to its crazy look. On the inside, oyster mushrooms contain large amounts of beta-glucans, which is a polysaccharide. Beta-glucan is how this mushroom helps lower cholesterol and blood sugar.
This mushroom gets its name because of how it looks from above. Honestly, it looks exactly like the fan of a turkey tail. These guys grow, usually, on fallen trees.
Commonly used in cooking and teas because it aids the digestive system, these mushrooms also contain antioxidants and prebiotics. These are thought to give it healing power.
This is the popular new kid on the block. It has been making its rounds on social media because of the cognitive benefits it boasts. Supplementing with Lion’s Mane is believed to improve focus and enhance your concentration levels and memory.
Found in the Tibetan high plateau, growing on a caterpillar’s head, Cordyceps has been used in that region for thousands of years. The athletic community commonly uses it because of its ability to boost energy, endurance, and vitality
Shiitakes are loaded with minerals and vitamins and nine essential amino acids. It is said to brighten skin and hair by using all those good things. It should not come as a surprise when you hear the food and beauty industries chatting about this one.
Slow and steady wins the race; that is the motto of Chaga. It can take up to 20 years to achieve full maturity, where its benefits reach maximum potential. Once mature, it is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties can be used.
This mushroom is amazing because of the amount of vitamin D it produces. It is the most you will find in any food. Along with vitamin D, it contains fiber and antioxidants.
Another mushroom that will aid with digestion. Maitake has been used its teas in between meals to lower stomach sensitivity.
If you are looking to incorporate mushrooms into meals, this may be the choice for you. Not only do they have great flavor, but they also have high amounts of niacin and antioxidants.
Nutritional Benefits of Functional Mushrooms
You can’t go wrong with mushrooms… Well maybe. But do not worry. None of the mushrooms on this list have psychedelic properties. They’re, however, low-calorie, low-sodium, fat-free, and cholesterol-free. Past that, mushrooms are high in protein, minerals, and fiber, and good sources of B vitamins.
Nutritional benefits fluctuate depending on the sort of mushroom. But generally, they are a terrific supplier of the following nutrients.
Beta-glucan is a soluble dietary fiber. It has been deeply connected to improving cholesterol and boosting heart health. It can also assist your body control blood sugar, allergies, asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome. Oyster and shiitake mushrooms are thought to have the highest portion of beta-glucans.
Mushrooms are complete with a wide assortment of polysaccharides. The ones found in mushrooms suggest a wide array of benefits including anti-diabetes, anti-cancer, anti-obesity, and antibiotic properties.
Each polysaccharide has a different benefit. There are potentially 50 or more of the compounds throughout different types of mushrooms.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals have a massive influence on our health. Mushrooms create the same assortment of vitamins and minerals that you’d anticipate getting from vegetables and fruits.
If truth be told, mushrooms produce what most plants lack, vitamin B and vitamin D.
The B vitamins: riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid can be found in most mushrooms. The blend helps protect heart health. Riboflavin is excellent for red blood cells. Niacin is nice for the digestive system and healthy skin. Pantothenic acid is beneficial for the nervous system.
Antioxidants help shield the body from harmful free radicals that can trigger conditions like heart disease and cancer. Free radicals are produced by things such as UV light and inflammation, as well as parts of our current life, like air pollution and smoking.
The antioxidants found in mushrooms are glutathione, ergothioneine, and selenium.
Antioxidants reduce the total oxidative damage done to our DNA. They are also thought to protect you against harm from aging and boost your immune system. Porcini mushrooms have the highest amount of antioxidants of every mushroom.
Source Of Fiber
Mushrooms are great to incorporate into your diet because they contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Many already know that fiber is essential in sustaining intestinal health and can reduce the risk of other diseases.
In addition, fiber tricks your stomach into feeling fuller for an extended period, so eating mushrooms high in fiber can assist in weight loss.
Medicinal Benefits of Functional Mushrooms
Mushrooms are being gradually more studied and used for their essential health advantages with various medicinal properties. They are recognized to be filled with antioxidants and nutritional value. You possibly won’t see instant results, but the results will stand out over time.
Antifungal, Antiviral, and Antibacterial Properties
Mushrooms need to protect themselves to prevent being eaten by other lifeforms. They also need to fight off bacteria and other pests that may want to overtake them. Many of the compounds they create to do this aren’t toxic to humans and act as organic antibiotics when we eat them.
Promoting Heart Health
Shiitake mushrooms contain compounds known as statins. You may recognize this as a pharmaceutical that lowers cholesterol. This can precisely remove LDL cholesterol while improving HDL cholesterol. Also, they stop the hardening of arteries by lowering inflammation.
Improving Energy Levels
Functional mushrooms can enhance your physical health, plus they can help to decrease your total fatigue during the course of the day. Others can ease your bronchial sections and boost respiration.
They create compounds that can boost your blood cells’ capacity to carry and the energy production in muscles. Also, they diminish the buildup of lactic acid in your muscles and help clean up the toxin from your body.
This means athletes can work out longer, more successfully, and experience better post-workout recovery when eating mushrooms.
Relieves Asthma and Allergies
Allergies are frequently caused by your body exaggerating a specific stimulus. Similarly, asthma is due to a significant number of inflammatory cells being produced in your body.
Mushrooms inhibit histamine release, a compound that cells circulate in reply to injury and inflammation. Through a similar mechanism, mushrooms are able to decrease allergies. They remove allergy-causing antibodies bringing balance to your immune system.
Individuals who consume mushrooms frequently have healthier body weight, a smaller waist, and generally better health. Mushrooms are low in calories and sodium, and they are jam-packed with necessary nutrients. They also have high amounts of fiber to maintain feeling full and lessen the urge to eat more.
Mushrooms have low sugar and carbohydrates equated to many other types of food, so they’re fantastic for diabetics to consume.
They are able to lower and regulate blood sugar through their hypoglycemic effect. Also, increasing insulin receptor sensitivity and reducing triglycerides, both of which prevent the development of other diabetic issues.
Improving Brain Health
Mushrooms cause the assembly of nerve growth factors. They can enhance your memory, give you clearer and more precise focus, and improve cognitive performance.
The cognitive effects of mushrooms are slow and cumulative, meaning you have to ingest them regularly for a few months before you start noticing results.
Certain strains of mushrooms put into your diet are proven to have substantial positive effects on fighting cancer, leukemia, and tumors. Compounds discovered in mushrooms can slow down the progression of existing cancer. As well as inhibiting DNA damage, tumor formation and, cell mutation, thanks to germanium, an antioxidant that improves oxygen movement in the body and battles free radical harm.
There has been no factual research in humans, but in both boars and mice, the Cordyceps mushroom has demonstrated promising sperm production and male fertility outcomes.
Therefore, if you’re a male and planning to begin a family, you might want to include some cordyceps in your diet. It could significantly increase sperm creation, both in terms of amount and quality.
Boosting Your Immune System
Many various types of mushrooms have antibacterial and antiviral properties, as we have previously discussed. They help increase DNA in your bone marrow. White blood cells and other immune cells are produced and normalize antibody production. These can assist the battle against the cold and flu and even more advanced and severe types of infections.
Best Functional Mushrooms Products
When searching for the best product, there are some key features to look at. The first is how it is made. You want a product made from fruiting bodies and not the mycelium form. You should also ensure that the compounds have been extracted, so the compounds will be effective.
Below we have compiled a list of some of the top-rated products on the market at the moment. This will hopefully save you tons of time scrolling through products.