Has it felt lately like everywhere from your Instagram feed to the hipster coffee shop you frequent is overrun with mushrooms? Mushrooms are taking the place of popular healthy eats like kale and turmeric thanks to their impressive nutritional and medicinal profiles, not to mention their varied uses and flavors. We’re not talking about your run-of-the-mill portobellos and white button mushrooms, either. These trendy fungi have fabulous names like maitake, reishi, chaga and cordyceps and they’re appearing in coffees, cocoas and in tea-form.
Not sure about this? Mushrooms in coffee? Really? Trust us, it’s delicious.
Mushrooms are the oldest living “kingdom” on dry land and have been used for thousands of years as both food and medicine. They contain a range of nutrients that are easily available to the human body, and their unique combination of compounds make them true superfoods. They function as food and medicine in one, helping to prevent and cure conditions ranging from anxiety to skin conditions to hormone imbalance. There are dozens of types of fungi and just as many reasons to work them into your diet.
Here’s why these fascinating organisms are popping up everywhere.
They are packed with vitamins and minerals
Talk about a complete plant-based food! Mushrooms contain a wide spectrum of health-promoting nutrients, including vitamins B and D, iron, selenium, copper, potassium and antioxidants. Plus, their high fiber and polysaccharide content is great for the gut and helps promote fullness and good digestion.
They contain compounds that bolster the immune system
Studies have shown that compounds in mushrooms can inhibit the growth of tumors and prevent cancerous cells from proliferating. These compounds also promote healthy immune function and have been shown to have antimicrobial properties.
Turkey tail, cordyceps and chaga have also been shown to reduce cancer growth and tamp down inflammation. Plus, they can bolster your white blood cells and keep them healthier, longer.
Boost your mushroom intake to help your body fight off invaders and prevent infection.
They reduce the effects of stress and anxiety
No, not those kind of mushrooms, if you’re picturing a hazy psychedelic experience (but the effect might be related). Reishi mushrooms contain powerful adaptogens that help the body combat the effects of stress, such as premature cell degeneration.
Mushrooms also contain serotonin, a natural mood enhancer that promotes contentment and a sense of calm.
They boost your metabolism
Because mushrooms contain significant amounts of B vitamins, which the body uses to convert glucose into fuel, mushrooms help the body maintain a strong, efficient metabolism. (Reishi, in particular, is a good choice.) They also promote good rest, another key component to metabolic wellness, and help promote even energy throughout the day.
They are great for the skin
Thanks to their high Vitamin D content and a polysaccharide that helps keep skin hydrated and supple, mushrooms might be a smart addition to your skincare regimen. Mushrooms can help reduce fine lines that come from skin cell dehydration as well as reduce the symptoms of rosacea, eczema and acne, since the latter come from inflammation and excessive free-radical activity (conditions that mushrooms are perfect for treating).
A friendly reminder: Mushrooms can function like medicine. If you have any health conditions or have surgery coming up, check with your doctor before making marked changes to your mushroom intake.