What Is Mushroom Coffee?

Move over matcha, it’s time to make room for mushroom coffee. And if you haven’t heard of it yet, trust me, you will soon. Known to have less caffeine than regular coffee — about 50% less — this beverage also comes with a host of health claims, making it rather attractive for those in pursuit of a healthy lifestyle.

Typically, most mushroom coffees are regular ground coffee (or instant coffee) blended with dried, powdered mushrooms. The taste is most similar to coffee — not at all of mushrooms. The most popular mushrooms used include reishi, chaga, lion’s mane and cordyceps. All are considered medicinal mushrooms — not to be confused with psychedelic mushrooms — and have been used for ages in Chinese herbal medicine.

[SEE: Benefits of Drinking Ginger Water.]

The Health Claims of Mushroom Coffee

Mushroom coffee proponents highlight a long list of claims — from promoting better sleep and boosting your immune system to supporting memory, reducing inflammation and increasing energy levels. But unfortunately, none of these claims have been substantiated in research conducted specifically on mushroom coffee per se. However, what we do know through research is that both coffee and these mushroom varieties do provide health benefits.

Coffee’s Health Benefits

There is scientific research to support that coffee may lower one’s risk for Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, certain cancers and Type 2 diabetes. And because of the caffeine, it also may help boost athletic performance and help you focus.

Mushroom’s Health Benefits

Overall mushrooms are known to be a good source of vitamin D, which is important for bone health, and the antioxidant selenium which may boost immunity. Mushrooms also contain potassium, known to help control blood pressure, and choline, which is important for brain health. Lastly, the fiber that they contain may be beneficial for beneficial for blood sugar, blood cholesterol and weight management.

[READ: What Is Ashwaganda — and Should You Try It?]

Health Benefits of Medicinal Mushrooms

The reishi mushroom is believed to have anti-cancer properties, however, most of the research is based solely on laboratory and pre-clinical studies, not on full-scale human trials. Studies on the chaga mushroom have also has shown a positive effect in regards to anti-tumor growth, as well as its therapeutic potential in countering the progression of diabetes and antiviral activities. The cordycep mushroom, like the chaga and reishi, show anti-cancer potential in the research to date. Research looking at lion’s mane mushrooms have strongly been associated with reducing depression, in addition to other cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.

However, probably the biggest buzz around mushrooms when it comes to mushroom coffee is the adaptogenic properties of the medicinal mushrooms. Adaptogens, which are herbal pharmaceuticals, may help protect our bodies from the effects of stress due to their stimulant properties. Specifically, they help keep balance in our hypothalamic, pituitary and adrenal glands by tweaking hormone production so our body can function at its best.

The big question though lies in whether or not there are actually enough of these adaptogens present in mushroom coffee to make a difference. The jury is unclear.

[Read: Myths about the Coffee Cleanse Diet.]

Bottom Line

There’s no doubt that coffee and mushrooms have health benefits. Would it be healthier to simply brew a pot of coffee and eat your mushrooms separately in their original plant form? Maybe. Could you simply enjoy a less caffeinated beverage in the morning, which may come with a slew of health benefits? Maybe.

Whichever you do decide, make sure to drink your coffee without a lot of added sugar, which due to its inflammatory properties may increase your risk for heart disease, diabetes and obesity. And that’s something where the jury is clear.

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What Is Mushroom Coffee? originally appeared on usnews.com

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