When most people think of mushrooms, they imagine the typical button mushrooms that can be found in most supermarkets. These mushrooms are often used as a meat substitute or as a side dish, adding a layer of complexity to a meal.
Although button mushrooms are among the most common mushrooms, they are not the only type of edible mushroom. Cordyceps is a rare fungus that is cultivated in East Asia. Unlike button mushrooms, cordyceps are eaten primarily for their health and medicinal benefits rather than taste.
Cordyceps are one of the latest health food trends and have caught the attention of many people due to their dense blend of essential nutrients. Another reason why cordyceps has become so popular is that it can be consumed in the form of cordyceps mushroom capsules, making them easy to incorporate into a person’s diet.
What exactly are cordyceps mushrooms and do they live up to the hype?
What are cordyceps?
Cordyceps mushrooms taste much milder than you would usually expect from mushrooms. This is one of the reasons they are rarely used in Western dishes. In addition to the fact that they are growing in East Asia and have only recently become widely available in the West.
Even in East Asian cuisine, cordyceps is not typically used in cooking, but rather is used as an herbal remedy. Cordyceps are packed with vitamins, minerals, and protein and have been used throughout history to improve digestion and overall health.
Many people are put off to try cordyceps mushrooms because of the way they grow. Cordyceps spread by taking the bodies of young insect larvae and turning them into caterpillar-funk hybrids.
The result of this process is an unusual looking fungus that looks like a group of worms coming out of the ground. When cordyceps are harvested, their color turns dark brown, making them look slightly less like insects and more like the root of a plant.
Cordyceps mushrooms are found in the Himalayan foothills of western China and Tibet. It has become more difficult to find cordyceps growing in the wild in recent decades due to overexploitation. Instead, most of the cordyceps available for purchase are now lab-grown and derived from cultivated varieties of fungi.
The main health benefits that scientists have linked to Cordyceps fungi
The main reason cordyceps mushrooms have acquired “superfood” status is the result of the dense combination of nutrients they contain. Cordyceps are special because they contain a unique blend of vitamins, minerals, protein, and complex carbohydrates.
The idea of consuming cordyceps, either as a food or as a health supplement in Western society, is still relatively new. Research into the extent of the ways mushrooms can benefit a person’s health is still in its early stages.
There are a few things we can learn about Cordyceps mushroom from science that supports the idea that it is an effective superfood. Here are some of the benefits of Cordyceps that are supported by scientific research.
# 1 – Support the body’s immune system
Cordyceps contain polysaccharides and are believed to work in the body to support the immune system. It is believed that including products such as Cordyceps capsules or powders as part of a healthy diet provides the immune system with additional support while protecting the body.
Several other compounds found in cordyceps, such as cordycepin, have also been found to support the immune system. Research has shown that cordycepin has a similar chemical structure to adenosine, one of the essential components of human cells. Therefore, it is believed that these two compounds can work and benefit the body in the same way.
# 2 – increased energy
Evidence suggests that Cordyceps can be used to improve a person’s energy levels. One particular study found that when participants received Cordyceps supplements daily for an extended period of time, their energy levels began to improve.
It was concluded that Cordyceps supplement could be an effective treatment for people with chronic fatigue. It might also be possible to use the cordyceps supplement for shorter term gains to boost energy and motivation for work and exercise.
# 3 – Improved fitness levels
Research focused on the unique blend of proteins, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and polysaccharides found in cordyceps has caught the attention of many people looking for an all-natural health supplement. Cordyceps mushrooms are being used more and more by athletes and fitness enthusiasts to improve their overall fitness.
Products such as cordyceps capsules and powders added to meals have become popular ways to incorporate mushrooms into a healthy meal plan for maximum effectiveness.