By Sean Zucker –
Regardless of what any given person might put in their cup, there’s no sugarcoating it—Americans love coffee. In fact, the national market research company Drive Research reports that as many as 75 percent of all U.S. adults drink coffee daily with half of those consuming 3 to 5 cups each day. Drive Research adds that over 50 percent of Americans believe that drinking coffee is a benefit to their health. They’re not wrong, though it might be a bit more complicated, which opens the door for alternatives like mushroom coffee.
WellWell previously confirmed that regularly drinking java can reduce the risk of dementia, increase focus and even fight cancer. However, it may also cause spinal bone loss, increase the risk of heart attacks among the young and reduce key vitamins such as B12, magnesium and potassium. Beyond those concerns, the beverage can wreak havoc on the gut, cause insomnia and make the drinker generally more irritable. This is where mushroom coffee comes in as a possible substitute for those looking to minimize potential issues.
In case there is any uncertainty, mushroom coffee is exactly what it sounds like, coffee that has been blended with mushrooms. Think regular coffee that uses performance enhancers.
“Mushroom coffee is essentially coffee with mushrooms—not just regular mushrooms but medicinal, adaptogenic mushrooms that help with energy, focus and stamina so that you get caffeine without the jitters, which often impact your cortisol production,” Dr. Bindiya Gandhi, an integrative physician specializing in holistic medicine, told Shape.
These medicinal mushrooms present unique benefits thanks to their high levels of antioxidants and nutrients. “They help with mood, energy, focus, concentration and so much more,” Dr. Gandhi added. “They are a functional food because by ingesting them you are gaining other benefits.” She also notes that the focus and energy here don’t come entirely from caffeine, as mushroom coffee is typically far less caffeinated than its traditional counterpart. This makes it a perfect option for those sensitive to the common ill effects of caffeine. As for how mushroom coffee tastes, the fitness magazine quickly halts any enthusiasm from portobello fans. Instead, Shape likens the flavor to standard coffee with a more earthy palate.
Healthline notes the approach is nothing new. The sprouts added to mushroom coffee have been used for medicine in China for hundreds of years. This includes Chaga, Turkey’s Tail, Lion’s Mane, Reishi and Cordyceps mushrooms. These adaptogens can help decrease stress, improve immunity, fight or prevent certain cancers, battle allergies and combat heart disease. However, Healthline warns that when it comes to their specific use in coffee, more research is needed to verify any health benefits.
Forbes also recently warned that given the beverage’s relative infancy, it can be difficult to parse the quality options. It claimed that MUD\WTR, Four Sigmatic, Laird Superfood and Organo were all low-risk brands featuring genuine ingredients. It adds that while the negative impact is significantly lower than a standard cup of joe, mushroom coffee can result in similar drawbacks to it being caffeinated, albeit at much lower levels. Of course, anyone with a mushroom allergy should steer clear of the emerging beverage as well, Forbes notes.
Ultimately, not unlike its pure bean-based counterpart, mushroom coffee might not be everybody’s cup of tea. But three out of four Americans could find the mushroom coffee benefits rewarding enough to try.