Medically reviewed by Karina Tolentino, RD, CHWC
Mushroom coffee may be taking its turn in the spotlight, but it has been around for decades. Some possible health benefits of mushroom coffee include managing stress, lowering inflammation, and boosting the immune system. Plus, it contains less caffeine than regular coffee.
People have eaten mushrooms for medicinal and nutritional value for over 2,000 years. However, whether the brewed mix has the same nutritional value as whole mushrooms is unclear.
This article discusses some potential health benefits of mushroom coffee and who should avoid it.
What Is Mushroom Coffee?
Mushroom coffee usually isn’t all mushrooms. It’s made by drying mushrooms and grounding them into powder before extracting the beneficial ingredients. Then, it’s mixed with ground coffee beans, typically in equal parts.
It looks and smells similar to regular coffee grounds. Depending on the blend, it might taste similar, though some might describe it as an earthy flavor.
You can buy mushroom coffee grounds, ready-to-go pods, and instant versions like regular coffee. There’s a seemingly endless variety of mushroom and coffee blends. Some blends may substitute herbal coffee, such as chicory or dandelion root, for regular coffee beans, making them caffeine-free.
Some of the most popular mushrooms for coffee are:
Chaga (Inonotus obliquus): Chaga mushrooms are black, irregularly shaped, and grow in high altitudes, mainly on the trunks of birch trees. These mushrooms have bioactive components that may have antitumor, antioxidant, and antiviral properties. They may also help manage blood glucose, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.
Lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus): These large, white mushrooms grow on broadleaf trees and get their name from their shaggy appearance. Rich in antioxidants, they’ve been used to prevent and treat diseases associated with oxidative stress (a state in which unstable molecules called free radicals are abundant in the body). Oxidative stress is linked to cancer and heart, lung, kidney, and neurological disorders.
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum): These mushrooms grow on live trees and are used in contemporary Chinese medicine to support immune function in people undergoing cancer treatment.
Turkey’s tail (Trametes versicolor, Coriolus versicolor): These mushrooms grow on dead logs and get their name from brown and tan rings resembling turkey tail feathers. In traditional Chinese medicine, they’re used to treat lung diseases.
Benefits of Mushroom Coffee
Mushrooms are low in fat and calories and an excellent source of:
Vitamins, including B1, B2, B12, C, D, and E
Essential amino acids
Mushrooms are considered a functional food that provides benefits beyond basic nutrition. They may enhance health and help prevent the development of certain diseases. Health claims linked to mushroom coffee include:
Improved stress response: The potential health benefits of mushroom coffee may come from adaptogens. Adaptogens are plant-based compounds that affect how much cortisol your body releases in response to stress. This may help protect against chronic inflammation, metabolic disorders, atherosclerosis, neurodegenerative cognitive impairment, and cancer.
Good for gut health: Some mushrooms contain prebiotics, which stimulates healthy bacteria and may improve gut health.
Stronger immune system: Mushrooms are loaded with polyphenols and other antioxidants that may help strengthen your immune response.
Preventing degenerative diseases: Antioxidants protect against damage from free radicals, which can help prevent degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease, cataracts, liver diseases, diabetes, inflammation, kidney failure, and brain dysfunction.
Mushrooms are associated with more than 100 medicinal functions. However, studies into the health benefits of mushroom coffee are lacking. It’s unclear whether the health benefits of mushrooms remain after drying, extracting, and brewing. How much mushroom coffee you’d have to drink to benefit from it is also unknown.
How Much Caffeine Is in Mushroom Coffee?
The ground mushroom powder doesn’t contain caffeine, so the caffeine content depends on the coffee it’s added to. The exact amount of caffeine varies by brand and blend. If you buy a blend of about half mushrooms and half regular coffee, you’ll get about 47.4 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per cup.
To avoid caffeine, you can opt for a mushroom/decaf or mushroom/herbal blend.
How Does It Compare to Regular Coffee?
If you’re looking for a morning jolt, regular coffee is more up to the task. It contains about 94.8 mg of caffeine in an 8-ounce cup.
Mushroom coffee may taste a bit different, depending on the mushroom blend, but it all comes down to personal preference. It’s similar enough that not everyone can tell the difference.
Potential Side Effects of Mushroom Coffee
Mushrooms don’t agree with everyone. In some people, mushrooms can cause stomach upset, bloating, and gas (flatulence).
If you’re not used to it, caffeine from the coffee beans can cause side effects such as shakiness, fast heartbeat, headache, and sleep problems. You can also form a caffeine dependency.
Who Should Avoid Mushroom Coffee?
Some people have a hard time digesting mushrooms. Avoid mushrooms and mushroom coffee if you already have digestive or kidney problems.
Some mushrooms, such as Chaga, are high in oxalates. If your overall diet is high in oxalates, you may be at increased risk of developing kidney stones. Over the long term, it’s also a potential risk factor for chronic kidney disease.
People who are allergic to mushrooms should avoid mushroom coffee. If you have any questions or concerns about whether you should try mushroom coffee, speak with a healthcare provider first.
Mushroom coffee is generally a mix of ground dried mushrooms and regular coffee. The nutritional value of these drinks varies because they involve a variety of combinations of mushrooms, coffee, and other ingredients.
Mushrooms have known health benefits, such as boosting your immune system, improving gut health, helping to manage stress, and more. However, it’s unclear if they carry over to brewed ground mushroom blends.
Unless you’re allergic to mushrooms or have digestive or kidney problems, there’s no harm in trying it. If you have concerns, speak with a healthcare provider before trying mushroom coffee.
Read the original article on Verywell Health.