Illuminating Your Wellness Journey

One of the top functional mushrooms chaga is shown next to a mug of tea.
Teauras Team

Teauras Team

Functional Mushrooms in Your Diet: Unlocking Health Benefits

These days, functional mushrooms are all the rage, with new food, beverage, and health supplement items using these renowned fungus appearing daily. In fact, by 2030, it’s predicted that the global market for functional mushrooms will reach over 19 billion dollars.

But how are functional mushrooms different from the shiitake, morel, and button mushrooms you’ve been eating all your life? Are these medical mushrooms really providing the claimed health benefits? Take a look at this guide to useful mushrooms and then continue.

What Are Functional Mushrooms?

There are hundreds of different types of mushrooms, some of which are extremely toxic. Some mushrooms exhibit hallucinogenic qualities. Some of them make delicious, nutritious components for dishes. Then, there are mushroom species, such as functional mushrooms, that have particularly remarkable health advantages when ingested.

Abbey Sharp, RD, a registered dietitian, YouTube host, food writer, and TikTok founder, defines functional mushrooms as “mushrooms that have adaptogenic properties and health benefits beyond that of their nutritional value.”

Functional Mushroom Contain Adaptogens

The word “adaptogen” describes a class of chemicals that may be found in plant-based diets (as well as in synthetic versions) and that aid the body in adjusting to stress of any sort, including chemical, biological, and physical stress. By doing so, we may protect ourselves from any illnesses or diseases that can develop as a result of these stresses and keep our internal balance intact. According to one review, adaptogens can boost the immune system, lower body inflammation, detoxify and repair damaged cells, exhibit antiviral properties, and generally enhance quality of life. This review also examined how well they can treat viral respiratory infections. Overall, outstanding.

Popular Functional Mushroom Varieties—and What the Research Says

When it comes to health benefits, while every mushroom will have a slightly different nutritional profile, many types will offer similar, overlapping benefits, for example, those associated with the immune-boosting plant compounds (or phytonutrients) they all contain.

1. Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Lion’s mane mushroom, scientifically known as Hericium erinaceus, is a distinctive-looking mushroom with long, shaggy, white spines. It has gained attention for its potential cognitive benefits. Some studies suggest that lion’s mane may support brain health by stimulating the production of nerve growth factor (NGF), a protein that plays a crucial role in the growth and maintenance of nerve cells. This has led to investigations into its potential use in addressing cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases.

2. Chaga Mushroom

Chaga mushrooms (Inonotus obliquus) are known for their dark, charcoal-like appearance and have been traditionally used in Siberian and other northern European cultures for their potential health benefits. Chaga is rich in antioxidants, particularly melanin, and has been studied for its potential to support the immune system and reduce inflammation. Some research suggests that Chaga may have antiviral properties, making it a topic of interest during times of increased viral concerns.

3. Reishi Mushroom

Reishi mushrooms (Ganoderma lucidum) have a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine and are often referred to as the “mushroom of immortality” due to their reputed health benefits. They contain bioactive compounds, such as triterpenes and polysaccharides, which are believed to have immune-modulating and anti-inflammatory properties. Reishi mushrooms have been studied for their potential to enhance the immune response, reduce allergic reactions, and promote overall well-being.

4. Cordyceps Mushroom

Cordyceps are a unique group of fungi that parasitize insects and other arthropods. One particular species, Cordyceps militaris, has gained popularity for its potential health benefits. Cordyceps supplements are believed to improve stamina and endurance by increasing the efficiency of oxygen utilization in the body. Athletes and individuals seeking to enhance their physical performance often turn to cordyceps for their potential to boost energy levels and combat fatigue.

5. Shiitake Mushroom

Shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) are well-known in culinary circles for their savory flavor. Beyond their culinary appeal, shiitake mushrooms contain compounds like lentinan and eritadenine, which have been studied for their potential to support the immune system and lower cholesterol levels. Shiitake mushrooms are a versatile addition to various dishes, making incorporating them into your diet easy.

6. Maitake Mushroom

Maitake mushrooms (Grifola frondosa) are recognized for their fan-like appearance and are often referred to as “hen of the woods.” These mushrooms contain beta-glucans, which are polysaccharides known for their immune-supporting properties. Maitake mushrooms have been studied for their potential to enhance immune function and are commonly used in traditional Asian cuisine.

7. Oyster Mushroom

Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) are a popular edible mushroom variety. They are rich in nutrients and contain compounds like beta-glucans associated with immune support. Oyster mushrooms are versatile in the kitchen and can be used in a wide range of dishes.

How to Incorporate Functional Mushrooms Into Your Diet

Maitake, one of the leading functional mushrooms is arranged on a bamboo tray.

Now that you’re familiar with some popular functional mushroom varieties and their potential benefits, you might be wondering how to incorporate them into your diet. Here are some creative and delicious ways to enjoy functional mushrooms:

1. Mushroom Broths and Soups

One of the simplest ways to enjoy functional mushrooms is by adding them to broths and soups. In particular, Shiitake, maitake, and oyster mushrooms are excellent additions to soups and stews. Their savory flavors can enhance the overall taste of your dish.

2. Mushroom-infused teas and Coffees

Functional mushroom powders like reishi and chaga can be easily incorporated into your daily beverages. Simply mix a teaspoon of mushroom extract or powder into your morning coffee or tea to boost potential health benefits.

3. Smoothies and Shakes

For a nutritious and energizing smoothie, blend lion’s mane or cordyceps mushroom powder with your favorite fruits, vegetables, and protein source. This is a convenient way to enjoy functional mushrooms as part of your breakfast or post-workout routine.

4. Mushroom-enhanced Sauces and Seasonings

Create flavorful sauces and seasonings by incorporating dried and powdered functional mushrooms. Reishi and chaga powders can add depth and richness to your sauces, while shiitake powder can elevate the umami flavor in your dishes.

5. Mushroom-Infused Oils

Make your own mushroom-infused oils by combining dried mushrooms with a neutral oil like olive oil or avocado oil. Let the mushrooms steep in the oil for a few weeks to infuse their flavors and potential health benefits.

6. Snack on Mushroom Chips

You can now find mushroom chips made from dried and seasoned mushroom slices in health food stores. These make for a crunchy and satisfying snack that allows you to enjoy the benefits of functional mushrooms on the go.

7. Functional Mushroom Supplements

If you’re looking for a convenient way to incorporate functional mushrooms into your routine, consider taking mushroom supplements in capsule or powder form. This ensures you receive a consistent dosage of the desired mushroom variety.

The Future of Functional Mushrooms

The growing interest in functional mushrooms is more than just a passing trend. As research continues to uncover the potential health benefits of these remarkable fungi, we can expect to see even more innovative products and culinary creations featuring functional mushrooms. Whether you’re seeking to support your immune system, boost your cognitive function, or simply savor the unique flavors of these mushrooms, there are plenty of reasons to explore the world of functional mushrooms in your diet.


Functional mushrooms are more than just a culinary delight; they offer a promising avenue for enhancing our health and well-being. As you embark on your journey to discover the benefits of functional mushrooms, remember to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian if you have specific health concerns or dietary restrictions. So, why not embrace the mushroom revolution and unlock the potential health benefits these remarkable fungi offer? The world of mushrooms is waiting for you to explore its many wonders, one delicious dish at a time.

Incorporate the natural benefits of mushroom extracts into your wellness routine; for more information, you can read more here.


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