Mighty mushrooms are making waves in the wellness world. We’re using them as adaptogenic herbs for stress, immune boosters for year-round health, as a source of beauty nutrition and more.
From delicious and nutritious mushroom recipes to potent mushroom supplements and even mushroom coffee—mushrooms are everywhere, and their benefits are many. Let’s explore some trending mushrooms and their benefits for body and mind.
Mushrooms as Adaptogens
Before exploring the top 10 types of mushrooms you’ll want to try, let’s get familiar with adaptogens. Also referred to as adaptogenic herbs, adaptogens are nature-sourced ingredients that help counteract the effects of stress.1 Adaptogens are trending as a way to support a healthy response to daily stress.
There are many adaptogenic herbs—some are mushrooms, others are not. Non-mushroom adaptogens include ashwagandha, shisandra, rhodiola rosea, ginseng, and more. Many of the mushrooms below have adaptogenic properties, so it’s definitely a buzzword to know.
10 Types of Mushrooms & Their Benefits
Mushrooms are a type of fungi, and experts estimate that there may be as many as 5.1 million fungal species on our planet, most of which we cannot see.2 In fact, the visible part of fungi we know as a mushroom is actually the “fruit” of the organism, and the body of fungi is known as mycelium.3Mycelium and mycelium extract is often used in supplements and it’s a source of many of the benefits of mushrooms.
While there may be a lot of mushroom types out there, far fewer are cultivated for consumption and many types of wild mushrooms are not even safe for humans. However, several types of mushrooms have been clinically-researched for health. Here are a few of our favorites.
1. Cordyceps Mushroom Benefits
Cordyceps, also known as the “caterpillar fungus,” is a mushroom-like fungus with a history in traditional Tibetan and Chinese health practices. It’s found at high altitudes in the Himalayas, and traditional uses have varied widely—from supporting longevity and general vitality to sexual health, liver health and beyond.4
Modern science backs up its use as a wellness supporter with studies on cordyceps fungus for energy, stamina, antioxidant support, anti-aging and heart health.5,6 Research shows that cordyceps may enhance aerobic capacity, helping optimize oxygen use and boosting cellular energy.6 It’s also used as an adaptogen to support a healthy stress response and to promote immune function.6
2. Reishi Mushroom Benefits
The prized reishi mushroom, or Ganoderma lucidum, is so highly valued in Eastern traditions that it’s known in many Asian countries as the “mushroom of immortality.”7 References to reishi as an herbal health tonic date back as far as 100 B.C. Reishi mushrooms boast around 400 active compounds that provide benefits throughout the body.7
Reishi mushroom has been studied as a supporter of immune function and antioxidant activity, as well as for cardiovascular support.8 It’s also taken to as a liver detox aid, as an adaptogen to reduce stress while supporting energy levels, and it’s a popular ingredient in mushroom coffee.
3. Lion’s Mane Mushroom Benefits
This exotic-sounding mushroom gets its name from its shaggy, mane-like appearance. Lion’s mane mushroom has adaptogenic properties and supports balanced health in both mind and body, promoting a feeling of calm alertness and boosting antioxidant activity.9
Studies have shown that lion’s mane mushroom may also benefit cognitive health and memory, as it contains two compounds, hericenones and erinacines, that may promote brain and nerve cell health.1
4. Turkey Tail Mushroom Benefits
Turkey tail mushrooms are among the most researched of them all due to beneficial polysaccharides, beta glucan and many other nutrients within them that promote health. Polysaccharides are powerful immune boosters, and beta glucan is a type of dietary fiber with a broad range of potential health benefits, including promoting heart health.11,12
Turkey tail mushrooms contain more beta glucan than other types of wild or cultivated mushrooms.13 Since beta glucan is also a prebiotic fiber, it may promote healthy gut flora and improve digestive health, which can also promote immune health. Read Trust Your Gut to learn more about how digestive health and immune health are linked.
5. Chaga Mushroom Benefits
Revered for its anti-aging benefits and often sipped as chaga tea, chaga mushrooms are loaded with antioxidants, beta glucans and a variety of botanical compounds that offer benefits for the immune system, heart and energy levels.14
It’s the extremely high levels of antioxidant phytonutrients in chaga that make it a popular anti-aging pick since antioxidants help fight oxidative damage, a major contributor to signs of skin aging.15
6. Agaricus Blazei Mushroom Benefits
Agaricus blazei is native to the Brazilian village of Piedade, where the local people were known for their remarkably good health into old age.16Agaricus blazei mushrooms were a regular part of their diet, which inspired Takatoshi Furumoto, a Japanese-born scientist living in Brazil to study the mushrooms, with samples also being analyzed by third-parties at the University of Buenos Aries, the University of Province of Mie in Japan, as well as a national research center in Japan.
The research suggested that Agaricus blazei mushrooms did in fact play a role in the health of the people of Piedade, showing promise as an immune system booster and cellular defender. Agaricus blazei is also believed to have adaptogenic properties, helping fight physical and emotional stress.17It’s now cultivated in Japan and China, and it’s extensively researched in Japan where it’s sometimes used as a food additive.
7. Zhu Ling Mushroom Benefits
Records of the use of zhu ling mushroom as a health tonic date back to the 5th century, and it was likely used much earlier.18 This mushroom has held a valued place in traditional Chinese healthcare for ages. Zhu ling is often taken to stimulate the immune system and promote liver health.19
8. Maitake Mushroom Benefits
In Japanese, maitake means “dancing mushroom.” And if folklore is correct, it got its name because people were so happy when they found one of these healthful mushrooms that they started dancing on the spot.20
Maitake mushroom is an adaptogen that supports a healthy response to daily stress, and it also works to help balance systems throughout the body and support immune health.20 It’s rich in antioxidants, beta glucans, vitamins B and C, copper, potassium, fiber and amino acids.20
9. Shiitake Mushroom Benefits
There’s a good chance you’ve heard of shiitake before, as it’s one of the most popular mushrooms for cooking. And you might want to have a regular helping because compounds in these mushrooms boost immunity, support heart health and more.21
Many studies have been conducted on shitake mushrooms, showing that eating just two dried shiitake mushrooms daily for a month can have beneficial effects on the immune system and overall health.21 They’re also a natural source of vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium to build strong bones.21
10. Snow Mushroom Benefits
Also known as Tremella fuciformis or white wood ear mushroom, snow mushrooms are making their way into beauty routines as a buzzworthy skincare ingredient. But long before it started appearing in the news, this white fungus was prized for its healthful benefits.
Snow mushroom may help stimulate the immune system, promote a healthy liver, and provide anti-aging benefits by supporting the skin’s natural collagen production to help keep skin firm.22,23 Snow mushroom is also a hydrating ingredient in some skin creams, since this mushroom can hold 500 times its weight in water.
Are Mushrooms on Your Wellness List?
Mushrooms are highly nutritious and have a host of wellness benefits to offer, from adaptogenic properties to immune health and beyond. Have you tried any of these mushrooms? Tell us what you think and how they helped you!