Consumers and companies alike are always looking for the next big thing. As nutritional health demands grow, we’re seeing a new star step on the stage: mushrooms. Though they are just recently gaining mainstream popularity, the many health benefits of mushrooms are nothing new. Various fungi have been used medicinally throughout the world in countries that include Russia, China, and Japan for centuries. Mushrooms are also the foundation of a number of modern pharmaceuticals ranging from anticancer to penicillin.
With the recent public surge of interest, manufactures and farmers have started working to make mushroom ingredients commercially available. The potential for product formulation is vast and the surface has barely been scratched. The following mushrooms are currently growing in popularity and have a range of health benefits:
This fungus is found on caterpillars in Chinese mountain ranges and supports respiratory, kidney, and liver health. Often recognized for immune support, improving athletic performance, and combating aging effects, Cordyceps works by stimulating cells and chemicals in the immune system. Some even credit it with the ability to shrink tumor size.
An herbal mushroom credited with miraculous health benefits, it is primarily recognized as a regulator responsible for normalizing organ function and balancing the immune system. Reishi mushrooms are made up of water-soluble polysaccharides, triterpeniods, proteins, and amino acids. Water-soluble polysaccharides are identified as the most active element and have been found to fight cancer cells, modulate immune systems, and lower blood pressure.
This type of fungus offers a significant amount of vitamin D while being low calorie and cholesterol and sodium free. It contains the disease fighting compound Lovastatin, which helps clear cholesterol from the circulatory system, thus improving blood flow. They are also rich in zinc, iron, potassium, phosphorus, and folic acid.
Particularly unique because they contain all eight essential amino acids, these mushrooms have long been popular throughout Asia and are now the third most widely cultivated edible mushroom in the world. A quick overview reveals Shiitake mushrooms fight cancer cells and infectious disease, boost the immune system, promote brain function, and serve as a source of B vitamins.
Considering its nerve-regenerative properties, this mushroom is gaining attention and reputation. With a nutritional offering of 20% protein, it’s not only medicinal but filling too! So far two new classes of Nerve Growth Factors have been discovered in Lion’s Mane fungi. Some studies are even suggesting it may work to alleviate anxiety and depression.
In 2012, Turkey Tail was approved by the FDA for a clinical trial to boost the immune system of cancer patients! Others say it prevents the common cold, helps heal HPV, assists digestion, and offers immune support.
Another immune booster, this hard fungus can be steeped into a tea tonic. Its antioxidants sooth and sustain the integrity of blood vessels, support gastrointestinal health, normalize blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and even support against skin blemishes!
While eastern culture has tapped into the benefits of fungi for some time, the west is just starting the explore the nutritional advantages offered by these underrated mushrooms. Expect to see these guys making their way into more of your favorite nutritional products and brands!
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