Does it seem there are more mushroom products in grocery and health food stores? It is true: mushrooms are a growing trendy food that can be found in unique ways.
Mushroom pizza, cream of mushroom soup, or sauteed mushrooms are all familiar ways of eating mushrooms. Drinking mushrooms, also referred to as mushroom coffee, is also a growing trend that boasts numerous health benefits such as helping the body deal with stress.
Are there REALLY valid mushroom coffee health benefits, though? Or, should you just stick to eating mushrooms over drinking them?
Curious if mushroom coffee is worth the hype? Read on for a deep dive into what mushroom coffee is and the truth about mushroom coffee benefits.
What Is Mushroom Coffee?
While drinking mushrooms is fairly new to Western cultures, consuming mushrooms in this way has been done for centuries in Chinese culture. Mushrooms used for mushroom coffee are dried and ground up into a powder.
The mushrooms used for coffee are different from the typical varieties used for cooking and are also different from psychedelic “magic” mushrooms. Common mushroom varieties used for mushroom coffee and other mushroom drinks include reishi, lion’s mane, cordyceps, and Chaga mushrooms.
Mushroom coffee is typically powdered and ground mushrooms that have been added to instant coffee. Therefore, it truly is a coffee drink with some added dried mushrooms to the coffee grounds.
The end result may cause a more earthy flavor, and these drinks are not designed to actually taste like mushrooms. The flavor may also not even be noticed depending on how strong the coffee is or what else is added to a coffee drink.
What is mushroom extract coffee?
Mushroom extract coffee can be used interchangeably with mushroom coffee. The wording of mushroom extract is technically more accurate for some mushroom coffee drinks.
According to nueroroast.com, after raw mushrooms are harvested, dried, and made into a powder form, they are cooked in either water or alcohol several times. The liquid mixture is then dried again to remove all the liquid which results in a final mushroom powder form.
Pure mushroom extracts may be sold as is or as a mushroom blend with regular ground coffee for mushroom coffee products.
Mushroom Coffee Nutrition
Most mushroom coffee products, by themselves, have virtually zero calories and consequently 0 grams of fat, carbohydrates, fiber, and protein. Similar to instant coffee, mushroom coffee nutrition can vary depending on what it is made with.
For example, making mushroom coffee with milk and/or sugar will significantly alter the nutrition profile. Note other mushroom drinks, like hot chocolate, will provide more calories and sugar similar to other hot chocolate powder mixes.
Most mushroom coffee products can fit into various diet patterns. Be sure to check individual product labels, but most mushroom coffees are considered vegan, keto, and gluten-free friendly.
Mushroom Coffee Benefits
Some mushroom coffee products have health claims these products can positively impact sleep, energy levels, boost immune health, etc. However, as Cleveland Clinic points out, most research behind some of these health claims with mushroom coffee is only based on cell or test-tube studies. In other words, more human research is needed to draw sound conclusions.
Overall, mushroom coffee may provide health benefits that can also be from consuming any type of mushroom. Medicinally, mushrooms may benefit the immune system, ease stress, and improve relaxation.
Mushrooms are known to be a good source of antioxidants. Therefore, mushroom coffee could have some anti-inflammatory properties. Coffee is also considered an antioxidant source, but adding in mushrooms could bump up the antioxidant level of a coffee drink.
Mushrooms are considered to be a functional food source of adaptogens. Adaptogens may help with stress management in the body. Some research suggests adaptogens, like mushrooms, may help the body lower stress hormones such as cortisol.
Besides assisting in handling stress, adaptogens may also improve sleep or relaxation. But as mentioned previously, more research is needed on humans.
However, another way mushroom coffee may help improve relaxation is simply due to the fact it is lower in caffeine compared to regular coffee. Drinking it in place of a cup of coffee, especially if sensitive to caffeine, may help improve sleep quality.
Bottom Line: Should You Drink Mushroom Coffee?
Drinking mushroom coffee can be part of a healthy diet, as it is virtually calorie-free and can also provide a source of antioxidants and adaptogens to the diet. But with most new trendy foods, any health claims listed on mushroom coffee products should be held loosely until more large-scale human research studies are done.
Mushrooms are nutrient-dense foods. Drinking mushroom coffee can provide some of these nutrients from mushrooms, but keep in mind health experts still suggest adding whole mushrooms to the diet to gain the most health benefits these fungi have to offer.
Mushroom coffee may be a lower caffeine alternative compared to traditional coffee that may help sleep quality for those sensitive to caffeine.
While mushroom coffee is considered safe for most people, as with any supplement, make sure to check in with your healthcare team first before adding to the diet if on any medication, or have digestive or kidney issues.
Mushroom Coffee: Should you be drinking it? Cleveland Clinic. Published May 19, 2020. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/mushroom-coffee-should-you-be-drinking-it/.
Smith MW. Mushroom Coffee: Are There Health Benefits? WebMD. Published May 20, 2021. https://www.webmd.com/diet/mushroom-coffee-health-benefits.