If you’re interested in adding some healthy supplements to your diet or health care regimen, you might be considering the laundry list of benefits that come from eating mushrooms as a good place to start. However, knowing which are the healthiest mushrooms can be confusing, as some varieties look similar but have completely different tastes and benefits.
Mushrooms are an edible fungus that are full of dietary fiber, vitamins and other nutrients. Thousands of species are known the world over, and while some are edible, others are dangerous to eat, and in some cases deadly. This is why it’s so important to make sure you’re getting your mushrooms from a reputable source.
In addition to being delicious, mushrooms are known for their many and wide-ranging nutritious properties. These health benefits range from boosting one’s immune system to fighting cancer causing free radical cells in the body. Some mushrooms have even been shown to have anti-aging properties, while others have even been shown to help slow cognitive decline.
But with so many options in stores to choose from, how do you decide what to squeeze into your daily diet? To help you out in this endeavor, StudyFinds consulted 10 expert sites to come up with this list of the healthiest mushrooms you can find. Tell us your favorite one in the comments below!
The List: Healthiest Mushrooms, According to Experts
Also known as “Dancing Mushrooms” or “Hen of the Woods,” these are some of the healthiest mushrooms you can consume. They’re traditionally used to normalize blood sugar levels, support liver and digestive functions, and improve one’s overall immune system and cardiovascular health.
“Maitake is an adaptogen. Adaptogens are critical for resisting all types of stress and are thought to help the body to find balance,” writes Nutrition You Can Use. “This effect is why maitake is often linked to immune system support. Studies have also shown that maitake may help fight cancer, decrease blood sugar level, improve immune function and decrease cholesterol levels.”
“Maitake mushrooms are high in beta-D glucans, which help to support immune function and reduce blood sugar levels to prevent diabetes,” notes Health by Mushrooms. “Maitake can also aid in weight reduction or guard against weight gain by reducing hunger pangs.”
And according to Men’s Health, “One serving—1 cup diced—of maitake mushrooms offers nearly a full day’s recommended allowance of vitamin D (99 percent), which helps to strengthen bones, and regulates the production of proteins your body needs to kill bacterial and viral infections … They’re also gorgeous and delicious, often called as ‘hen of the woods’ with their wild, rippling, feathery look with fan-like caps. They have a rich, woodsy taste perfect for grilling or broiling.”
These popular mushrooms are a popular meat-free protein that are full of nutrients that support the immune and cardiovascular systems. They help fight against high cholesterol, lower blood sugar levels, and improve circulation. “These mushrooms are famous for their medicinal properties,” writes Way of Leaf. “They contain several substances with potential anticancer activity. One of the best-known of these is lentinan, which Japanese researchers have studied as a possible treatment for stomach and colorectal cancer.”
“Shiitake mushrooms contain a good amount of anti-tumor compounds for your body’s needs,” states Icy Health. “A study published in 2015 by Science Daily found the presence of anti-inflammatory properties of Shiitake mushrooms. In that particular study, adults after having taken shiitake mushrooms showed better working efficiency of gamma delta T cells and also helped in reducing inflammatory (protein)”
“They are a rich source of sterols, plant compounds that have been associated with reduced cholesterol levels in some studies,” writes Men’s Health. “They also contain polysaccharides, a type of carbohydrate that may aid the immune system.”
While this mushroom is known to support the immune system and fight cancer cells, it’s perhaps best known for its calming properties brought on by the compound triterpene. Also known as the “10,000-year mushroom,” they also help boost one’s mood, improve focus, and promote better sleep.
“Although you can technically cook and eat reishi mushrooms, most folks prefer to consume reishi via tea or a powder,” notes GroCycle. “If you’re feeling a little low lately, reishi may be a great food to introduce into your diet. Studies show that it can help reduce both fatigue and depression. It can also help to protect your heart, manage your blood sugar and fight cancer.”
“Reishi is a popular mushroom that’s been used in Chinese medicines for thousands of years,” states Health by Mushrooms. “Reishi mushrooms include beta glucans, ganoderic acids, and other compounds that may help to preserve the immune system, enhance sleep quality, and support heart health.”
“Reishi is an especially popular mushroom in traditional medicine – and is often associated with longevity,” writes Nutrition You Can Use. “It has been linked to various effects, including decreasing inflammation, fighting cancer, improving the immune system and improving liver health.”
With its unmistakable shaggy appearance, these white mushrooms are also called “Brain Mushrooms,” “Monkey Head Mushrooms, and “Pom Pom Mushrooms.” These healthy mushrooms are particularly known for boosting nootropic and cognitive functions and supporting one’s memory.
“These puffball-shaped mushrooms have a spongy texture and taste incredible grilled,” states Men’s Health. “You’ll find them in powdered form within supplements too. But just know this about mushroom supplements in general: While there’s some promising research emerging, there’s not enough science yet to conclude that taking mushroom supplements will benefit your brain or body in any way. Real mushrooms, on the other hand, have a strong backing from science.”
“Lion’s mane mushrooms are also beneficial for the nervous system and mental health,” writes Health by Mushrooms. “Lion’s mane is a great choice for people searching for a natural nootropic since its neuroprotective qualities and phytonutrients make it ideal. Lion’s Mane is one of the few medicinal mushrooms that may also be prepared into a delicious gourmet dish.”
“Bad case of brain fog? Try lion’s mane for some natural mental clarity,” notes Healthline. “This feathery ‘pom-pom’ mushroom is packed with antioxidants and strengthens the immune system like most medicinal mushrooms. But lion’s mane is rare in the fact that it fosters the production of the bioprotein nerve growth factor (NFG) and myelin (an insulation around nerve fibers).”
There are many varieties of these goblet-shaped mushrooms found the world over, and they are both delicious and healthy. Difficult to cultivate commercially, they are known for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties.
“The mushrooms contain many beneficial nutrients, including iron, potassium, vitamin D, phosphorous and B-vitamins,” writes Nutrition You Can Use. “They’re also a key source of beta-carotene (an important carotenoid for eye health) and contain significant fiber. This is another species that forms symbiotic relationships, making it difficult to cultivate. Care needs to be taken when foraging too, as there are multiple similar-looking species that are poisonous.”
“Chanterelle Mushrooms are a great source of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, including iron, copper, vitamin D (D2 + D3), vitamin B3, B5, and B2, manganese, dietary fiber, phosphorus, and zinc,” writes MindsetEco. “Add to this the antioxidant properties of Selenium, and you have a low-fat, low-carb source of pure goodness.”
“Vitamins such as B1, B2, B3, and B5 are found in good concentration in chanterelle mushrooms for maintaining your nervous system efficiency and health,” states Icy Health. “Adding chanterelle mushrooms to your diet will increase your energy level. … This healthy mushroom variant is also beneficial for fighting against viruses, bacteria, and fungus due to its antimicrobial properties. Have this mushroom in your daily diet for vitamin C and potassium along with vitamin D benefits.”
You might also be interested in:
- Men’s Health
- Nutrition You Can Use
- Intake Health
- Mushroom Revival
- Health by Mushrooms
- Icy Health
- Way of Leaf
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.