The upwards trend of healthy living in recent years has made people more conscious than ever of what they are eating. Consumers are starting to cut down on eating unhealthy and fattening foods and are turning towards foods and ingredients that are not only good for their bodies but also ones that taste delicious. One food that has gotten particularly popular recently are mushrooms since they are quite versatile, take in flavor well, and have many nutritious and health benefits such as adaptogens. As such, the demand for mushrooms and mushroom-based products are at an all-time high.
With a variety of mushrooms available on the market today, all with different medicinal and health benefits, it may seem hard to know where to get started and which mushrooms to start incorporating into your diet. Thus, to make it easier for you, we have compiled a list of what we believe are the top 10 best mushrooms to formulate with.
These 10 mushrooms can be used in a multitude of ways. From creating protein powders and baking mixes with them to incorporating them in your protein bars, bites, and cookies, there are endless possibilities for how to add these fungi to your next big snack idea.
Cordyceps (Cordyceps militaris) is a popular asian mushroom that is commonly found in Asia within areas of humid temperate climates such as tropical jungles. Traditionally used by Tibetan herdsmen to deal with adverse effects from low oxygen levels at high altitudes, today Cordyceps is used as a great pick-me-up for low energy or even during pre-workouts as they can improve athletic performance. This fungus helps with everything from supporting cardiac functions, boosting the immune system, and speeding up post-workout muscle recovery.
2. Lion’s Mane
A known natural nootropic, Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) are giant white shaggy mushrooms that have gotten their name from how they resemble the coat of the jungle feline. This fungus is popular for both its medicinal values and the flavor it adds to food, thus making it a popular mushroom to formulate with. Lion’s Mane is thought to have many benefits that help our nervous system. From protecting your mind from dementia, speeding the recovery of nervous system injuries, and helps soothe symptoms of depression and anxiety, Lion’s Mane is popular among health enthusiasts for its special ability to help with cognitive functions and general brain health.
Grown in the hot and humid parts of Asia, Reishi mushrooms (Ganoderma lucidum), have been a part of Eastern medicine for centuries. These fungi are particularly popular for their seemingly remarkable cancer-fighting properties. They are also helpful for blood sugar control and heart health improvement, making this a great ingredient for protein bar brands looking to stand out in a crowded space.
Chaga mushrooms (Inonotus obliquus) are found in abundance in Siberia, making them a popular mushroom to use in many Northern European and Russian medicines. As the highest natural source of antioxidants, they are thought to be great at helping fight free radicals in your body and in turn decreasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
One of the most commonly eaten mushrooms around the world, not only are Shiitake mushrooms (Lentinus edodes) a delicious, rich, and savory ingredient to use in your recipes but they additionally have many positive benefits. Shiitake mushrooms have been used for their healing properties as far back as 100 AD in China as both treatment for and prevention of upper respiratory disease, heart disease, and skin aging.
6. Turkey Tail
Known as Turkey Tail (Coriolus versicolor) for its outward growing striped flairs, not only is this fungi one of the most beautiful growing ones in nature but also one of the most well-known ones for its medical properties. Along with being highly packed with antioxidants, Turkey Tail mushrooms contain Polysaccharopeptides which are protein-bound polysaccharides. The polysaccharides with the highest percentages that are found in Turkey Tails are Krestin and Polysaccharide Peptide which both have numerous immunity boosting and anti-inflammatory properties.
Often called Hen of the Woods due to its feathery texture, Maitake (Grifola frondosa) mushrooms are found all over the world with large concentrations in Asia, Europe, and North America. Maitake means dancing and the mushroom’s name comes from how Japanese people used to dance with joy and excitement when coming across it due to its several highly beneficial qualities. Maitake mushrooms are a type of adaptogen, meaning that it helps the body fight against mental and physical difficulties. The mushroom is also tied to lowering cholesterol and increasing the fatty acids that increase energy, thus improving artery health. It is additionally known for helping with Type 2 Diabetes as it has a positive effect on glucose levels.
Hiratake, or Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus), are popular in diets across the world for their intricate appearance and the exquisitely subtle savory taste they have once cooked. Oyster mushrooms are a great ingredient due not only to their many health properties, which range from improving cardiovascular and immune health to providing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, but also how they soak up the flavor of any other ingredients they are used with. The relatively mild flavor of oyster mushrooms will never overpower any snack type they are in but rather will enhance the flavor of all of the other delicious tasting ingredients making it an excellent mushroom to formulate your recipes with.
A fungus loaded up with complex sugars, polysaccharides, Tremella (Tremella fuciformis) is known as the beauty mushroom, not only for its striking white cloudy appearance but also for the many beauty benefits it has from helping maintain clear healthy skin by aiding with skin hydration to its anti-aging properties that help minimize collagen loss.
Normally found on mulberry trees, Meshima mushrooms (Phellinus linteus), should not ever be confused with Phellinus Ignatius as the second produces white rot on trees eventually leading to tree decay from the root up. When you are buying your mushrooms or mushroom extracts, for any varieties, make sure that you are acquiring them from trusted co-manufacturers with sustainable sourcing practices. Early research shows that Meshima mushrooms effectively kill breast cancer cells due to their powerful anti-cancer and anti-tumor capabilities. In addition, Meshima helps long-term immune system health improve as it has hepatoprotective qualities that cleanse the liver and protect you against cytotoxic substances. Meshima mushrooms also help soothe skin conditions such as eczema and can help with subsiding allergy reactions due to the inhibitory effect it has on the immune cells which are typically responsible for triggering inflammation.
Mushrooms are an underutilized ingredient in protein bars. From various mushrooms being adaptogens to others having nootropic properties, incorporating mushrooms into your protein bar formula can create several benefits for your customers. Not only is the flavor subtle and inoffensive, but the ability of mushrooms to help improve health also can not be understated.