Are you a fan of mushrooms? If so, good news! Mushrooms are some of the healthiest foods in existence, with many varieties offering benefits from energy to stress resilience to enhanced brain power.
So, which mushrooms are the cream of the crop? In this article, we’ll share the world’s healthiest ‘shrooms and their benefits. These fungi are brimming with antioxidants and essential nutrients to keep your mind and body vibrant and healthy.
#1: Reishi Mushroom
Known as the “mushroom of immortality,” reishi has wide-reaching benefits thanks to its naturally-occurring active compounds, including beta glucan, polysaccharides, and triterpenes. The top benefits of reishi include:
- Immune system support: Reishi has been shown to help boost the immune system, making it better equipped to fight off infections and diseases.[*]
- Stress relief: Reishi is considered an adaptogen, which means it helps your body overcome and adapt to physical and emotional stressors. Studies have shown that reishi has a calming effect on the mind and body, helping to reduce feelings of stress, promote relaxation, and support restful sleep.[*]
- Cardiovascular support: Reishi’s active compounds, particularly triterpenes, have been shown to support healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Not only that, but reishi has been reported to enhance blood flow and oxygen utilization in the heart muscle.[*]
#2: Chaga Mushroom
All functional mushrooms are known for their antioxidant properties, but chaga stands out as a free radical fighting champion. Dubbed the “king of medicinal mushrooms,” chaga has a rich history of use across North America, Europe, and Asia thanks to the following benefits:
- Immune system support: Chaga’s main claim to fame is immune system support. This mushroom is rich in beta-glucans, which are known to support the immune system. By boosting the immune system, Chaga mushrooms can help the body fight off infections and diseases.
- Stress relief: Chaga is considered an adaoptogen, meaning in can help your body adapt to physical and mental stress. With regular use, chaga may help you feel more relaxed and better able to handle stressful situations.
- Blood sugar support: Several animal studies have linked chaga to lower blood sugar levels. As such, this mushroom may benefit those with diabetes.[*]
#3: Lion’s Mane Mushroom
Lion’s mane mushrooms are a sight to behold, with their shaggy appearance resembling the mane of a lion as they grow. These medicinal mushrooms are not only visually striking, but also offer health benefits that make them a valuable addition to any wellness routine. The top benefits include:
- Brain support: Lion’s mane mushrooms contain compounds, namely hericenones and erinacines, that have been shown to improve memory, slow cognitive decline, boost mood, increase focus, and protect against dementia, including Alzheimer’s.[*][*][*]
- Nervous system support: Lion’s mane has been shown to stimulate nerve growth factor (NGF)—a naturally-produced protein that supports the growth and repair of nerve cells.[*] NGF also plays an important role in forming myelin, the sheath (tissue) around nerve cells that help them function.[*]
- Cadiovascular support: Research shows that lion’s mane extract can reduce risk factors for heart disease. For example, one animal study found that lion’s mane can improve fat metabolism and lower triglyceride levels.[*]
#4: Turkey Tail Mushroom
Turkey tail mushroom is a type of medicinal mushroom that is prized for its vibrant coloring and health benefits, including:
- Immune system support: Krestin (PSK) and Polysaccharide Peptide (PSP) are two types of polysaccharopeptides found in turkey tail mushroom. Both PSK and PSP possess powerful immune-boosting properties that have been shown to help the body fight cancer, infection, and other diseases.[*][*]
- Gut health support: Turkey tail is a valuable ally for gut health. By acting as a prebiotic, turkey tail stimulates the development of “good” bacteria in the gut microbiome, resulting in a healthier and more balanced gut. Maintaining a healthy gut microbiome is linked to improved digestive health, a stronger immune system, and a reduced risk of gastrointestinal disorders and diseases.[*][*]
- Energy support: Turkey tail has the potential to boost stamina, strength, and energy, making it a valuable tool for athletes. A study using animal models found that turkey tail extract improved endurance and strength in mice, while reducing physical fatigue and regulating blood sugar levels, both at rest and after exercise.[*]
#5: Shiitake Mushroom
Shiitake mushrooms are a popular variety, prized by people worldwide for their rich, umami flavor. But shiitake mushrooms are more than just a tasty treat—they’re also packed with diverse health benefits, making them a valuable addition to any diet. Let’s take a look at the top benefits:
- Cardiovascular support: Shiitake mushrooms are brimming with compounds that have been shown to lower cholesterol and high blood pressure. These compounds include eritadenine, sterols, and beta glucans.[*][*][*][*]
- Immune system support: The polysaccharides in shiitake mushrooms are thought to help strengthen the immune system and possess anti-inflammatory properties. In one study, people who consumed two dried shiitake mushrooms daily for a month had improved immune markers and lower inflammation levels.[*]
- Anti-cancer support: A 2019 study of over 36,000 Japanese men uncovered a fascinating connection between mushroom consumption and a reduced incidence of prostate cancer.[*] The study attributes this relationship to the presence of ergothioneine, an antioxidant found in mushrooms such as shiitake, king oyster, oyster, and maitake.
How to Add These Health-Supporting Mushrooms to Your Diet
While shiitake mushrooms can be found in grocery stores, the other medicinal mushrooms on this list are not typically found in supermarkets.
Fortunately, these healthy ‘shrooms are readily available online in the form of mushroom extracts, powders, and capsules. They can also be found in certain health foods products, such as IQBAR and IQMIX—both of which contain lion’s mane mushroom.
IQBAR is a vegan and keto-friendly protein bar formulated around six brain nutrients shown to support sustained cognitive energy, performance, and health. Choose from delicious flavors like Chocolate Sea Salt, Matcha Chai, and Lemon Blueberry. Don’t worry, you can’t taste the lion’s mane mushroom!
IQMIX is a hydration mix formulated around four nutrients shown to improve hydration, cognitive performance, and mood. Flavors include Lemon Lime, Blood Orange, Peach Mango, and Blueberry Pomegranate. And once again, the taste of lion’s mane is undetectable!
Discover Other Health-Promoting Mushrooms
The five mushrooms shared in this article are undoubtedly some of the healthiest, but all edible mushrooms are health promoting. Consider adding the following mushrooms to your rotation as well:
- Maitake mushrooms
- Oyster mushrooms
- Portobello mushrooms
- Chanterelle mushrooms
- Enoki mushrooms
- Porcini mushrooms
- White button mushrooms
- Cremini mushrooms
- Morel mushrooms
Whether you choose to enjoy them fresh, in powder form, as a protein bar, or in a convenient supplement, adding these superfood mushrooms to your diet is a simple and delicious way to support your overall health and wellness!