Mushrooms have been used in cuisine throughout the world for ages, and the health benefits of incorporating them into an individual’s diet are well-known. They have long been considered a powerful medicine in many parts of the world; however, western medicine is fairly new to this concept.
The research is hard to ignore, and numerous studies have been conducted that demonstrate the value of mushrooms not only for general health but, particularly, for brain health. There are more than a thousand species of edible mushrooms, so knowing which ones to use to promote a healthy brain can be difficult. Read on to learn which particular mushrooms provide the best source to support brain health.
What Are The Overall Health Benefits of Mushrooms?
Although different mushrooms deliver different benefits, in general, edible mushrooms are excellent sources of antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins. Antioxidants are substances that fight free radicals in the body. These free radicals are responsible for damaging the tissue in our body leading to major chronic health problems like cardiovascular disease.
Fiber is essential to maintain a healthy digestive system. It is lacking in so many Americans’ diets, and can help to maintain a healthy weight, ease bowel movements, and lower cholesterol.
Mushrooms can provide a variety of necessary vitamins. Generally, the nutrients found in mushrooms contain B vitamins, Vitamin D, selenium, and potassium. These vitamins and minerals are responsible for fostering a strong immune system, building protein, and reducing inflammation.
How Do Mushrooms Support A Healthy Brain?
As we age, our cognitive function declines, and we become more predisposed to illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Mushrooms have been shown in studies to reduce the risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which is often a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease. MCI is characterized by poor memory, difficulty making decisions, and verbalizing thoughts.
In addition to the anti-inflammatory effects of mushrooms which can certainly aid in brain function, they contain a specific amino acid, ergothioneine which is not produced in the body naturally. Ergothioneine is a strong antioxidant, and there is increasing evidence that this substance can prevent diseases associated with aging. In fact, one study showed that patients with dementia and decreased cognitive impairment had low blood levels of ergothioneine. 
One particular large study conducted in Singapore directly examined the correlation between mushroom intake and MCI. The results showed that individuals who consumed two portions of mushrooms per week or more had a reduced risk for mild cognitive decline. 
Types Of Mushrooms For Brain Health
With all the varieties of mushrooms available, it may seem impossible to know which ones are the best to support brain function. The most effective mushroom for this is Lion’s Mane. It has been extensively studied for its neuroprotective properties. Reishi and Chaga are also excellent sources to improve cognitive function.
Many substances are unable to cross a barrier to our brains, rendering them ineffective to aid in brain function. Lion’s Mane has gained notoriety as one of the best mushrooms for brain health because it has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. In one report published in the National Institutes of Health database, Lion’s Mane was shown to repair damaged nerve cells.  This report looked at a study that revealed improving cognitive impairment in older Japanese patients after oral administration of Lion’s Mane. 
The reishi mushroom is well-known for its mood-boosting effects. It helps alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression and promotes better sleep. Improved sleep helps our brains function at optimal capacity. It has also been shown to sharpen focus.
Chaga mushrooms are best at lowering cholesterol in the body. They are also powerful antioxidants, strong in protecting against inflammation, which is associated with poor cognitive function. The Chaga mushroom is now being studied further as a preventative agent to slow the growth of cancer cells.
Side Effects Of Mushrooms
The side effect profile is very safe for mushrooms. Those that have been studied have shown no adverse effects when taking them; however, mushrooms, in general, may trigger an allergic reaction. Individuals who have food allergies or sensitivities should be tested for a mushroom allergy before using mushrooms for their health benefits.
Our Top 3 Picks Of Mushroom Supplements For Brain Health
Because it is the most studied and has been proven to improve mental cognition, our top three choices for mushroom supplementation all contain Lion’s Mane.
Stonehenge Health Dynamic Mushrooms – This supplement contains Lion’s Mane, Reishi, and Chaga mushrooms. The vegetarian capsules are non-GMO and are gluten, soy, and dairy-free. Also, this supplement utilizes the cap and stem of the mushrooms, which includes the highest amount of nutrients mushrooms offer.
Real Mushrooms Lion’s Mane – This organic formulation also uses the cap and stem of the mushroom. The manufacturer asserts that the quality of their product is verified by accredited third parties and practitioners are recommending this product to their patients.
Naturelo Mushroom Supplement – This formulation has both Lion’s Mane and Reishi. The capsules are vegan-friendly, and the price is reasonable.
Genius Mushrooms – This formulation contains a blend of organic Lion’s Mane, Reishi, and Cordyceps. It is designed to improve focus, energy, and immunity.
It seems obvious that incorporating mushrooms into your life either through diet or supplementation is a smart decision. The health benefits are plentiful, and the improved cognition is well-established. Our only concern is the allergy component, so if you are unsure, you can easily be tested to confirm you can ingest mushrooms. As always, speak to your doctor before beginning any new supplements.