Previously found primarily in supplement form, medicinal mushrooms are now making their way into your favorite foods and beverages. And it’s no wonder—depending on the variety, mushrooms contain protein, fiber, and certain vitamins, as well as elements that may help with a host of health conditions. For example, reishi mushrooms contain ganoderic acids, which may lower blood pressure and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol; and maitake mushrooms contain polysaccharides, which may support the immune system. So, if you’re ready to have some fungi, here are places where they’re sprouting up:
- Packaged foods. Not only do mushrooms add texture, bulk, and savory flavor to foods like burgers and sauces, they’re also fat-free. Some manufacturers are using mushrooms to replace 50 to 80% of the meat in their products, significantly cutting their costs, not to mention calories and saturated fat.
- Beverages. Along with teas, mushrooms are popping up in prepared lemonade and other drink mixes. They’ve even shown up in the protein shake category where manufacturers claim they boost the immune system while helping to build muscle.
- Alternative proteins. A new process using the mycelium from heirloom shiitake mushrooms claims to be a game changer for the alternative protein market. When fed a certain feedstock, the mycelium produces protein that can be used in a variety of foods, such as in pastas, sauces, and meat substitutes.