Your social media timeline is filled with people sipping on a warm, coffee-like drink. Upon further investigation you learn that many people are singing the praises of mushroom coffee. But how could that actually taste good? A warm cup of portabella soup is the last thing you’d want to drink. The benefits can’t outweigh the taste, can it?
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“Interestingly enough, mushroom coffee tastes pretty similar to regular coffee,” says registered dietitian Ryanne Lachman. “It is, after all, coffee with mushroom extracts blended in.”
Chinese medicine has long used adaptagens, which is a fancy name for things like herbs and mushrooms. So the idea of adding mushrooms to your diet as a wellness incentive isn’t exactly new.
So is this type of coffee the magic drink we’ve been waiting for?
What exactly is mushroom coffee?
The most popular mushrooms found in coffee blends typically include:
- Lions mane.
Thankfully, you can’t just toss a couple mushrooms into your coffee and call it a day (because that would be, well, gross). The mushrooms used in mushroom coffee go through a drying and extraction process in order to pull the beneficial compounds out, which then get blended into regular coffee.
Most mushroom coffees are actually blends of mushroom extract and instant coffee. That’s why it tastes like coffee – because it is!
OK, but is mushroom coffee actually healthy?
There are a lot of claims surrounding the benefits of mushroom coffee. Some of the most popular include:
- Better sleep.
- Reduced stress.
- Boosts your immune system.
- Supports your memory.
- Higher energy levels.
- Relaxes sore muscles.
- Reduced inflammation.
But is there any truth to these statements?
“Mushrooms in general have some really great benefits,” explains Lachman. “A big one tends to be with reducing inflammation. Mushrooms also contain antioxidants, which can help support the immune system.”
Mushroom coffee also has less caffeine, which (depending on who you ask) usually helps people feel less anxious and sleep better.
But take the long lists of touted benefits specific to mushroom coffee as a grain of salt. There isn’t a ton of research out there suggesting that all of the claims actually hold true.
Lachman suggests that you might be better off incorporating mushrooms into your diet through normal foods rather than sipping special (and pricy) coffee.
Mushrooms: A dose of wellness on their own
The good news is that mushrooms by themselves are packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Try mixing in whole mushrooms to your regular recipes. Toss them in salads, use them in pasta dishes or grill them up during a barbeque. You’ll still experience the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits this way, but without sacrificing your typical cup of Joe or shelling out money for a bougie coffee blend.
If you’re still convinced you want to incorporate powered mushrooms into your diet, try one type of mushroom powder at a time and track any symptoms you might experience.
It’s important to note that mushrooms can sometimes cause digestive issues, especially for those who have kidney problems or trouble with grains. In fact, chaga mushrooms are high in oxalates and are known to affect and increase kidney stones. If you have digestive problems, it’s best to speak with your doctor or meet with a dietitian before heading down the fungi path.
“There’s really nothing wrong with mushroom coffee as long as you’re not adding in a ton of sugar or creamer,” says Lachman. “But you’ll also experience the same benefits – and more including the fiber – if you just eat mushrooms normally in your diet.”