by Edie Horstman
While superfood mushrooms are currently gaining traction in the wellness industry, their history runs deep. Mushrooms have been used in Eastern medicine for thousands of years. Many Chinese herbal medicines incorporate mushrooms for their therapeutic properties, thanks in part to their beta glucans (natural polysaccharides), which have been shown to support the human immune system. In essence, they form a unique subset of edible mushrooms. Scientists are continually uncovering the health benefits of superfood mushrooms.
1.) Lion's Mane
For mental clarity, memory, focus, alertness, nerve health and overall brain support, look no further than Lion's Mane. Sometimes called "the smart mushroom," Lion's Mane is chock-full of natural nutrients such as ericinones and hericenones that support cognitive and neurological health. Reported in many studies, Lion's Mane has been shown to stimulate the synthesis of nerve growth factor (NGF), a protein that supports the growth and normal function of nerve cells. Usage of Lion's Mane is becoming increasingly popular as a way to stay focused, creative and "in the moment" and as an antidote to feeling distracted and for those moments when brain fog sets in. Before starting your workday, studying for a test, gaming with your friends, or embarking on a busy day looking after the family, Lion's Mane is ideal. Studies suggest that its potential to support memory and cognitive function is perfect for those "senior moments" — times when life catches up to you and you're having a bit of trouble connecting the dots. Not to mention that this white, shaggy-shaped mushroom, like all functional mushrooms, contains powerful beta glucans that support immune health, antioxidants, and a broad array of compounds, but it's for cognitive health support that Lion's Mane is most well known. Read more about Lion's Mane benefits.
Revered in Traditional Medicine as the "mushroom of immortality," Reishi is one of the most popular whole food functional mushrooms because of its wide range of health benefits. Reishi contains powerful, natural beta glucans that support immune system functionality. Considered by many to be a superior adaptogen, Reishi works with your body to help manage everyday physical, mental and emotional stressors and restore balance in a natural and healthy way. It contains a compound called triterpene, which helps support and regulate mood. This superfood whole food mushroom can be taken any time of the day and in a choice of forms — as a powder to add to smoothies, shakes, hot coffee or tea, stirred into oatmeal, eggs, dressings, sauces, soups, and in recipes, such as baked goods — or in a convenient capsule form (powder or supplement). Read more about Reishi benefits.
Although all functional mushrooms contain antioxidants, Chaga stands out as a free radical-fighting powerhouse. Often referred to as the "King of Medicinal Mushrooms," Chaga has been used extensively by traditional healers in North America, Europe and Asia. Chaga provides a broad range of natural bioactive compounds with significant antioxidant and immunity-supporting benefits. Nutritionally dense, it contains beta glucans, amino acids, potassium, zinc, calcium and vitamins such as biotin, vitamin D, and B-vitamins, as well as other health-supporting nutrients. This dark colored mushroom, which has been harvested for centuries, helps combat oxidative stress, which can help the body regulate inflammation. Studies have shown that oxidative stress may speed up the aging process and lead to a number of other negative health consequences. Chaga is a remarkable beauty supplement that works from the inside out to support the health of hair, skin and nails. Served warm or cold, Chaga is a delicious mushroom supplement in hot beverages such as chai tea lattes and boosts overall health. Read more about Chaga benefits.
Known as a functional mushroom for energy and endurance, Cordyceps is ideal for a healthy start to the day, as an afternoon pick-me-up or a pre-workout supplement. Used for centuries in traditional Chinese and Tibetan cultures as a natural energy and vitality elixir, Cordyceps is used today to support increased energy, endurance, performance, stamina and vitality. This striking-looking mushroom contains cordycepin and other natural bioactive compounds. It supports the availability of oxygen in the body which can help improve blood flow, a necessity for effective athletic performance. Cordyceps is not just for athletes, however. It works well for anyone looking for ways to take on the physical demands of everyday life that we all experience. For optimal results, add Cordyceps to your breakfast routine, pre-workout liquid, post-workout smoothie, mid-morning coffee, or late afternoon boost. It is available in many forms — as a superfood powder, as a convenient capsule, and as a naturally flavored energy powder with additional ingredients such as turmeric, yerba mate, guarana, and vitamin B complex, pre-mixed and ready to add to your water bottle. Read more about Cordyceps benefits.
5.) Turkey Tail
Turkey Tail is one of the most researched functional mushrooms for its powerful natural polysaccharides. The beta glucans and other nutrients, such as antioxidants, found in this beautiful mushroom support immune health. Turkey Tail contains a broad array of compounds, including prebiotics known to improve gut health, which plays a role in supporting immune system vitality. It has been brewed in Chinese medicinal teas for thousands of years. Despite its unusual name, Turkey Tail, like all functional mushroom, contains no animal elements and is good for vegans, vegetarians, and anyone looking for nutrient dense, healthy nutrition. It is identifiable by its fall-like colors and swirling cloud contours, and is one of the world's most functional foods. Read more about Turkey Tail benefits.
Maitake (the name is Japanese for "dancing mushroom") helps support a healthy blood sugar level in the body. Due to its properties, this functional mushroom has a positive effect on overall immunity. Maitake contains an array of beta glucans, such as 1, 3/1, 6 beta-D glucan compounds that support immune function as well as a variety of minerals and vitamins, including copper, potassium and vitamins B and C. Available in powders and capsules, you can add this superfood mushroom to pasta, pizza, omelettes, soups and sauces. Delicious in savory dishes, it has a pleasant, earthy taste.
While the mushrooms above have been studied extensively for their potential to support health, not all mushrooms are created equal. Om Superfood Mushrooms is at the forefront of growing the highest-quality, 100-percent organic, functional whole food mushrooms by mycology experts at its state-of-the-art indoor farm in California. Offering 11 single species and condition-specific blends in a range of different forms including powders, capsules and drink mixes, Om's powerful nutrient dense mushrooms fit perfectly in today's busy lifestyle for those looking to incorporate these wonders of nature into their diet. Support for immune health, cognitive health, beauty, gut health, vitality, energy, endurance, fitness and recovery — incorporating Om's products into your daily routine has never been easier. Read more about Maitake benefits.
Edie Horstman is a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, wellness blogger, and freelance writer. She works with health-focused brands, co-creating content in the digital marketing space. She lives in Denver, Colorado.