Trend Alert: Exotic Mushrooms
Mushrooms are pretty ‘fun-guys’ and the Swisse Me office is itching to include them in our diets. Not only do mushrooms bring a distinct ‘umami’ taste and versatility to the party, they’re also unbelievably nutritious. As there are approximately 700 varieties of edible mushrooms, coming in many different shapes, sizes and textures (Dikeman et al. 2005), we’ve done our homework and picked out the top 5 exotic varieties. Read on to discover the magic of our favourites.
Probably the best-known type of exotic mushroom, shiitakes are packed full of antioxidants (Dubost et al. 2007). For example, research has found these mushrooms contain high levels of the antioxidant ergothioneine in a bioavailable form (Weigand-Heller et al. 2012). This makes them potential candidates for helping our bodies fight free radicals and prevent certain diseases (Rahman and Choudhury 2012).
Meanwhile, chaga mushrooms contain high amounts of selenium, a mineral which is important in the production of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (Sizer and Whitney 2017). This humble mushroom may therefore help lower our risk of developing a range of diseases as well as reduce the rate at which we age (Wolfe 2012).
Like other exotic mushrooms, chaga also contains significant amounts of three B vitamins: riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid, which assist in the metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates in our food (Sizer and Whitney 2017). This, in turn, helps sustain our energy levels over the day and during our workouts.
Cordyceps are another mushroom variety to look out for if you’re looking to improve your performance at the gym and reduce fatigue throughout your day. This is because cordycep mushrooms help our bodies adapt to stresses that may help restore hormonal balance and protect our adrenals from fatigue (Halpern 2007).
Speaking of keeping our brains a-head of the game, we should all think hard about including lion’s mane in our diets! This mighty mushroom has been suggested to increase levels of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) in vitro (Lai et al. 2013). NGF is essential for maintaining healthy brain cells as well as regenerating old and damaged cells. NGF also promotes neurological connections and therefore has the potential to have protective effects on the brain. There’s even some emerging evidence that NGF might be beneficial for the treatment of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease (Tuszynski et al. 2015).
As with other mushrooms, maitake is a great food source of vitamin D (vitamin D is vital to keeping our bodies healthy; for example, it helps our bones stay strong and keeps our immune system firing on all cylinders (Holick 2004). However, the amount of vitamin D our bodies can produce in the winter months is limited. This, together with the fact many of us are generally spending less time outside and more of that time wearing sunscreen, means a large percentage of us are likely to be deficient in this key micronutrient (Holick 2007). Supplementing our bodies, for example via our diets, is therefore super important.
The above reasons have convinced us to add maitake to our new protein balls, as well as 50mg each of maitake, lion’s mane, chaga and cordycep mushrooms to our new protein powders. Check out the full range coming soon, and decide for yourself why you need to make ‘mush-room’ for these fungi in your day!
Dikeman, C.L., Bauer, L.L., Flickinger, E.A. and Fahey, G.C., 2005. Effects of stage of maturity and cooking on the chemical composition of select mushroom varieties. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 53(4), pp.1130-1138.
Dubost, N.J., Ou, B. and Beelman, R.B., 2007. Quantification of polyphenols and ergothioneine in cultivated mushrooms and correlation to total antioxidant capacity. Food Chemistry, 105(2), pp.727-735.
Halpern, G.M., 2007. Healing mushrooms. Square One Publishers, Inc..
Holick, M.F., 2004. Sunlight and vitamin D for bone health and prevention of autoimmune diseases, cancers, and cardiovascular disease. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 80(6), 1678S-1688S
Holick, M.F., 2007. Vitamin D deficiency. New England Journal of Medicine, 357(3), 266-281
Lai, P.L., Naidu, M., Sabaratnam, V., Wong, K.H., David, R.P., Kuppusamy, U.R., Abdullah, N. and Malek, S.N.A., 2013. Neurotrophic properties of the Lion's mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, 15(6).
Mizuno, T. and Zhuang, C., 1995. Maitake, Grifola frondosa: pharmacological effects. Food Reviews International, 11(1), pp.135-149.
Rahman, T. and Choudhury, M.B.K., 2012. Shiitake mushroom: a tool of medicine. Bangladesh Journal of Medical Biochemistry, 5(1), pp.24-32.
Rocco, M.L., Soligo, M., Manni, L. and Aloe, L., 2018. Nerve growth factor: early studies and recent clinical trials. Current neuropharmacology, 16(10), pp.1455-1465.
Sizer, F.S. and Whitney, E. (2017) Nutrition Concepts and Controversies 15th Edition. Cengage Learning Inc.
Tuszynski, M.H., Yang, J.H., Barba, D., Hoi-Sang, U., Bakay, R.A., Pay, M.M., Masliah, E., Conner, J.M., Kobalka, P., Roy, S. and Nagahara, A.H., 2015. Nerve growth factor gene therapy: activation of neuronal responses in Alzheimer disease. JAMA neurology, 72(10), pp.1139-1147.
Weigand-Heller, A.J., Kris-Etherton, P.M. and Beelman, R.B., 2012. The bioavailability of ergothioneine from mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) and the acute effects on antioxidant capacity and biomarkers of inflammation. Preventive medicine, 54, pp.S75-S78.
Winston, D., 2019. Adaptogens: herbs for strength, stamina, and stress relief. Simon and Schuster.
Wolfe, D., 2012. Chaga: King of the Medicinal Mushrooms. North Atlantic Books.