What are functional mushrooms?

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Functional mushrooms have been used for thousands of years in Eastern medicine, yet they still continue to make waves in the wellness world today.

They vary by type and can be chosen based on your individual wellness needs, but before diving into incorporating these superfoods into your life to reap the benefits for yourself, a bit of background is necessary for some guidance. Let’s get into what makes these superfoods so special.

When you hear about functional mushrooms, you may be curious about what distinguishes them from the food source that many of us know and love. While all mushrooms technically serve a function both as a food source and a fundamental role in the ecosystem, functional mushrooms refer to the subset of mushrooms that are more notorious for their therapeutic and anti-inflammatory properties due to their antioxidants.

functional mushrooms refer to the subset of mushrooms that are more notorious for their therapeutic and anti-inflammatory properties due to their antioxidants.

All functional mushrooms have beta-glucans, which are the main polysaccharides present in mushrooms in addition to their proteins, vitamins, antioxidants, and more. Research has shown beta-glucans to stimulate the body’s immune response to defend against bacteria, viral, fungal, and parasitic infections. Additionally, functional mushroom benefits include supporting gut health, cognitive function, and reducing the effects of medical conditions due to their various bioactives.

Now that you are familiar with functional mushroom benefits and how they work, we can get into the types of functional mushrooms that can serve you well in your daily routine. The following list of functional mushrooms are notorious for their wellness benefits and are also featured in some of our very own products:

  • Reishi
    Reishi (or Lingzhi,) is a functional mushroom that has a long history for promoting health and longevity for over 2000 years in Chinese medicine. Two essential components of the reishi mushroom are polysaccharides and triterpenoids which are antioxidant properties shown to protect immune cells and maintain immune response.The body is able to quickly absorb the antioxidants in reishi, building up the antioxidant activity in the body over time. Other functional mushroom benefits of reishi include pain reduction, healing lesions, regulating blood glucose levels, and protecting against liver and gastric injury.
  • Chaga
    Chaga is another functional mushroom that has been used to treat various health conditions over the years. It is known for possessing broad biological activity, including antitumor, antioxidant and anti-virus properties. Aside from those properties, chaga mushroom is packed with nutrients to boost your health including Vitamin D, potassium, amino acids, copper and much more.
  • Cordyceps
    Cordyceps is considered to be another powerhouse. More than 21 clinically approved beneficial effects for human health have been found in this functional mushroom. It acts as an antitumor, antiproliferative, antimetastatic, insecticidal, and antibacterial compound, all which can be used for medicinal purposes. There are many species of cordyceps that can be found throughout the world, and it is one that can be counted on to build endurance and oxygen consumption.
  • Lion’s Mane
    Lion’s Mane is a well-established culinary functional mushroom due to its ability to promote positive nerve and brain health. This is a common mushroom often used to treat Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Other health benefits of this mushroom include antidiabetic, antioxidative, and antimicrobial effects. More recent studies today are researching the potential therapeutic effects of this functional mushroom for depressive disorder.
Lion’s Mane is a well-established culinary functional mushroom due to its ability to promote positive nerve and brain health
  • Turkey Tail
    Turkey tail is a functional mushroom known to strengthen the immune system when given during cancer treatment due to its chemical combinations of polysaccharides and beta-glucans. The name ‘turkey tail’ derives from its resemblance in color to the tail feathers of a turkey. Like many other functional mushrooms, turkey tail was used in traditional Chinese medicine for years to treat lung disease.
  • Maitake
    Maitake is notorious for its immune-enhancing effects. This mushroom has immunomodulating glucans which have been shown to enhance immune function. It also has high nutritional value, often used as a food or dietary supplement for others to consume and reap their bioactive compounds as well as to help improve cholesterol levels and type 2 diabetes.
  • Shiitake
    Shiitake is a mushroom that you may be familiar with consuming in your meals. Aside from being a substantial food source, consuming shitake mushrooms has been shown to improve immunity and lessen inflammation. If not incorporated in your diet already, this is considered a preventative food you’ll want to consider to help limit risk of cancer and other illnesses.

The list of functional mushrooms above show that they can have a special role in your routine, and luckily, they are very easy to incorporate into everyday life.

Drinks, supplements, teas, and more are all some suggestions for ingesting functional mushrooms. For us here at Zolt, these powerhouse ingredients are must-haves in our superdrinks, making them easily accessible for people to add the power of fungi into their lives. Zolt’s plant-powered beverage mixes are a convenient, delicious, and refreshing way to help you tap into your peak performance for mind, mood, and body using only the finest, most efficacious ingredients.

At Zolt we only use fungi that are 100% organic, extracted from the fruiting body of the mushroom, and verified for beta-glucans, the key compound that our body needs. Try giving Peak a try, a formulation which includes reishi, lion’s mane, and cordyceps to help improve cognition and focus. Other products containing functional mushrooms include: Well +Collagen Boost, Even +Collagen Boost, and Dreamy +Collagen Boost.

You can shop here for more of our products that feature functional mushrooms.