When most people hear the word mushroom, they think of the tiny white and brown fungi found in food markets. Mushrooms are loved for their meaty texture and rich flavor, making them perfect in everything from risotto to vegan burgers.
However, not all mushrooms fit the typical image that people have of mushrooms. There are many different fungi found worldwide that do not fit the appearance or taste profile we have come to expect from mushrooms. Cordyceps mushrooms are one of the many fungi that, rather than being a delicious food, are instead a health food supplement.
Cordyceps mushrooms are still considered a relative niche product and not one that a lot of people know about. This is changing, however, in part due to the rise in products such as cordyceps mushroom capsules and cordyceps mushrooms powders.
So, what exactly are cordyceps mushroom capsules, and why are they considered a super supplement?
What Are Cordyceps Mushrooms, and Where Are They Found?
Cordyceps mushrooms are just one of many fungi that have become popular in recent years among people looking to try new and exciting natural wellness products. Fungi are packed with many essential vitamins, minerals, and proteins, making them a vital part of any healthy diet.
Fungi like cordyceps, also known as functional foods, have been used in East Asian cultures throughout history. Prized for being a superb source of nutrition packed with protein, it is not surprising that fungi have long been considered a superfood in some cultures.
Cordyceps mushrooms grow in high-altitude areas and are mainly found in the Himalayan foothills of Western China and Tibet. In addition, Cordyceps have a unique appearance and do not look anything like the mushroom traditionally found in supermarkets.
Cordyceps mushrooms’ unusual growth pattern involves taking over the bodies of larvae and turning them into caterpillar-fungus hybrids. The result is a fungus that visually resembles a worm in shape and has an orangish-brown coloring.
The fungi grow in clumps, with the long tendrils sticking out from the dirt. When picked and dried, Cordyceps mushrooms take on a much darker brown coloring, making them look slightly more edible.
Why Are Fungi One of the Latest Health Trends?
Cordyceps mushrooms contain complex carbohydrates known as polysaccharides. This particular type of carbohydrate is believed to offer a number of health benefits when eaten regularly. Common reasons for choosing to add cordyceps mushrooms into a healthy diet include:
#1 – Supporting a Healthy Immune System
The polysaccharides found in cordyceps mushrooms are thought to contain immune-enhancing properties. For this reason, cordyceps mushroom supplements are often used in a similar way to how other vitamins such as vitamin D and multi-vitamins are used.
Cordyceps mushrooms have a high concentration of nutrients which make them ideal for maintaining overall health and fitness. The main active compound within the mushroom is cordycepin and it has a very similar structure to adenosine, a key component in human cells.
Other important compounds found within Cordyceps Mushrooms include amino acids, phenolic compounds, and a range of vitamins and minerals. These different compounds all work within the human body to help maintain a healthy immune system.
#2 – Boosting Energy and Reducing Fatigue
Cordyceps mushrooms are often used to help beat fatigue and boost energy levels. One study found that cordyceps mushroom supplements can be used as an herbal drug to increase energy levels.
Using cordyceps mushrooms in this way can be helpful both for people who suffer from fatigue and those who simply want to be more active and feel more energetic. Products like Cordyceps Mushroom powders and capsules make it super easy to add fungi to meals for a slight energy boost.
#3 – Athletic Performance and Aiding in Recovery
Cordyceps mushroom supplements are increasingly being used by athletes to help boost energy levels and support a speedy post-workout recovery. Often nicknamed the ‘energy mushroom,’ cordyceps offer a sudden burst of energy, making them perfect as part of a pre-workout snack.
Equally, the polysaccharides and other immune-boosting compounds found within cordyceps mushrooms work to support the body after an intensive workout. The human body needs the necessary resources in order to ensure a fast recovery after a workout or training. This includes many of the vitamins and minerals found in cordyceps mushrooms.
Where to Find Cordyceps Mushrooms
Cordyceps mushrooms have become somewhat of a rarity as a result of over-harvesting. Within East Asian cultures, cordyceps mushrooms are considered both a prestigious and expensive item due to them being increasingly challenging to find in the wild.
Most of the cordyceps mushrooms that are sold commercially as health superfoods now come from cultivated varieties. It is extremely rare to find wild cordyceps mushrooms for sale, especially outside of East Asia.
Cordyceps mushroom health products can be found in most health food stores as well as from online retailers. Cordyceps are considered to be more of a health product than an actual food to be enjoyed. This is reflected in the ways that cordyceps mushrooms are typically sold. Popular products include cordyceps mushrooms capsules and powders.