Should you switch to mushroom coffee?

mushroom coffee

Mushroom coffee may still be a niche beverage, but that hasn’t stopped it from taking over the internet. Type “mushroom coffee” into a search engine and you’ll immediately get millions of results. Same goes for TikTok or any other social media site. 

But, as we all know, not everything that’s a big hit online actually lives up to the hype. Does mushroom coffee deliver on all of its promises?

What is mushroom coffee?

While mushroom coffee does, in fact, contain mushrooms, it’s still actually coffee. Typical blends include an equal mix of ground mushrooms and ground coffee beans. That means the taste is often still surprisingly similar to a traditional cup of Joe. 

In fact, you may not even realize the mushrooms are in there. Manufacturers of the drink take a variety of medicinal mushrooms (such as reishi, chaga and lion’s mane), dry them out, grind them and then extract the mushrooms’ beneficial ingredients. 

The purportedly healthful ingredients extracted from the mushrooms are plant-based compounds called adaptogens. The name comes from their ability to help the body “adapt” and respond better to stressful situations. Adaptogens have been used for centuries as part of Chinese medicine treatments.

Mushroom coffee benefits

Marketers of mushroom brews claim the drink has numerous health benefits. It’s important to understand that while some of the health claims may be valid, many haven’t been proven in scientific studies. It’s also not yet proven that drying, extracting and brewing mushrooms leaves their health benefits intact. 

One real benefit is that by drinking a cup that’s only about half coffee, you’re getting only half the caffeine. Reduced caffeine intake can leave you less jittery during the day and can also improve your ability to get quality sleep at night. 

Other possible, but largely unproven, benefits of drinking mushroom coffee include:

  • Less stress: Adaptogens can affect how much cortisol — a hormone produced in times of stress — your body releases. If the adaptogens in mushroom coffee reduce the amount of cortisol in your system, that may help reduce the effect that stress can have on your body.
  • Reduced inflammation: Mushrooms contain compounds called polyphenols, as well as a variety of antioxidants. Together, they can help reduce inflammation in the body.
  • Stronger immune system: The polyphenols and other antioxidants in mushrooms also have the potential to bolster your immune defenses.
  • Better sleep: Drinking less caffeine can benefit your sleep. Proponents of mushroom coffee claim that the adaptogens in the drink also improve sleep quality.

Potential downsides of drinking mushroom coffee

There’s some evidence the extracts used in mushroom coffee can be hard on digestion. People who have kidney issues or digestive troubles might be more vulnerable to these effects. In addition, certain types of mushrooms often used in mushroom coffee (notably, the chaga variety) contain high levels of compounds called oxalates. A diet that contains too many oxalates puts you at risk for developing kidney stones. 

The biggest downside to drinking mushroom coffee may be the cost. These brews often cost at least twice the price of regular java (even when you make them at home). If you want to harness the power of mushrooms, you might be better off just working them into your diet. 

Fresh mushrooms are delicious raw or cooked in salads, soups, stir fry, chili and more. Eating mushrooms provides you with numerous nutrients — including B vitamins, vitamin D, selenium and potassium — plus many of the health benefits you may or may not get in your mushroom coffee.

Take the Next Step

To learn more about mushroom coffee and other adaptogen foods, reach out to your primary care physician.

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