The Rise of Functional Mushrooms

Kayla Castle

|

August 13, 2020
Share on email
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on google
Share on pinterest
Share on whatsapp
Share on twitter

Nowadays you can find mushroom products and supplements everywhere. Ranging from drinks/elixirs, coffee mixes, jerky, protein bars, pasta, chips, skincare, the list goes on and on. As health fads come and go, functional mushrooms have long been used as medicinal and nutraceuticals dating back to ancient times (1). In ancient Egypt, pharaohs loved mushrooms so much they declared them royalty , even prohibiting non-royals from consuming them (6). The mushroom industry is growing tremendously and is projected to be a global 69-billion-dollar industry by 2024 (7). So, what makes mushrooms nutritional powerhouses?

Carbohydrate component: Trehalose helps  stress response processes, by working to retain cellular integrity (prevent protein degradation) when exposed to adverse environmental stresses. (2)

Protein component: contains all essential amino acids, including 2 less common amino acids Ornithine and GABA. The 3 highest containing amino acids mushrooms contain;

  • Arginine- blood flow regulator (3)
  • Aspartic Acid- nervous system and hormone functioning (4)
  • Glutamic Acid- immune and digestive system functioning (5)

Lipid component: rich in oleic and linoleic acid known for their anti-carcinogenic effects (2).

Vitamins and Trace Minerals: good sources of phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and calcium 

Fun Fact: Mushrooms are the only plant-based source of vitamin D!

Overall, mushrooms are antioxidant rich nutritional superstars! Let’s break down the 4 most common mushroom infused products on the market:

Reishi aka longevity: This dual functioning mushroom and adaptogen helps improve the immune system and regularize body functions. 

Lion’s Mane aka concentration: this fluffy mushroom improves memory, concentration and ability to focus. 

Chaga aka anti-inflammation: offers a rich variety of  diverse antioxidants and a delicious flavorsome taste. Commonly used in coffee products. 

Cordyceps aka energy, vitality and endurance: commonly found in pre-workout formulas.

Note: These mushrooms are not found in your local grocery produce aisle such as white button or portabella mushrooms. However, you can still reap great nutrition from consuming  mushrooms from the grocery store! Commonly found grocery store mushrooms are high in selenium, beta glucan, copper, potassium and B vitamins (9). It is best to cook mushrooms and avoid eating them raw because they have a tough cell wall making the digestive process difficult. Cooking breaks down their tough cell wall, making it easier on the digestive system and allowing your body to absorb more nutrients while deactivating anti-digestive elements (8).

Mushrooms can easily be incorporated into your diet whether it is a mushroom infused food item, powdered form or supplement capsule form.  Check out below a Chia and Flax Seed Pudding recipe using powdered Reishi mushroom.

Reishi Chia and Flax Seed Pudding Recipe (serves 1) :

  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sweetener , both maple syrup and honey work
  • ½ cup unsweetened milk, such as unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon OM Reishi Mushroom Powder  

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a jar and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, best overnight. 

References: 

  1. J Beaty (Dec. 2019) Everything You Need to Know About Functional Mushrooms And Their Benefits. Retrieved from https://nulivscience.com/blog/functional-mushrooms-and-their-benefits
  2. H Rathore, et.al (Jan. 2017). Mushroom nutraceuticals for improved nutrition and better human health. ScienceDirect, Journal accession number S2213434417300051
  3. Healthline ( May 2019) 10 Healthy High Arginine Foods. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-high-arginine-foods
  4. Medline Plus (n.d.). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002234.htm 
  5. Amino Acid Studies (n.d.). Retrieved from https://aminoacidstudies.org/glutamic-acid/
  6. A Nelson (Jan. 2020) 7 Surprising Health Benefits of Mushrooms. Retrieved from https://www.treehugger.com/surprising-health-benefits-mushrooms-4864212 
  7. Transparency Market Research (Jun. 2019) Retrieved from https://www.transparencymarketresearch.com/pressrelease/mushroom-market.htm 
  8. M McMillen , n.d. Mushrooms: What’s Edible, Medicinal and Psychedelic. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/types-of-mushrooms#1
  9. N Butler (2017) Are Mushrooms Good for You? Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/are-mushrooms-good-for-you#1 

Edited by Arielle Jacobowitz

Kayla Castle

Kayla Castle

Hi! I`m Kayla Castle, I am a Nutrition & Dietetics undergraduate student at New York University. Pursuing a Master’s degree in Nutrition & Dietetics and the DI internship to become a registered dietitian (RD). In addition, I am a Pilates instructor, in the future as an RD, I plan to combine nutrition and exercise. I also like to go hiking with my dog, cooking and creating my own recipes.