Mushrooms have been foraged since pre-historic times around the globe. It took a while for mushrooms to really catch on in America however.
The first known reference to mushrooms is in “The Virginia Housewife” a US cookbook sold in 1824.
Though the year is still young, the mushroom trends of 2021 have already begun to make their mark on everything from fashion to art.
But, besides offering a fun design aesthetic, why are health experts excited about mushrooms this year?
Learn more about the history of the incredible fungi and our top mushroom trends for 2021.
Edible Mushrooms Are More Than Just A Trend
We face many challenges as we start to grow older, and our bodies are more reliant on supplemental vitamins and minerals to remain in a healthy state. As such, many people end up turning to multivitamin chews and pills. Eventually, it gets to a point where you’re forced to take up to five or six pills per day to supply your body with the basics. However, there is a much more beneficial, natural alternative to all of this: mushrooms.
The amazing effects of mushrooms on the human body are no secret. In fact, Chinese medical practitioners have been using mushrooms for health-related issues for centuries. Nowadays, the knowledge of what mushrooms can do for you is finally being shared amongst the US medical community as well, and the response is overwhelming. The addition of increased amounts of mushrooms and mushroom-derived products into the human diet is a trend that is sweeping the nation. But what exactly is so special about them, and why have they become so popular?
The History of the Mushroom
To better understand why these fabulous fungi are trending, it might help to start with a little background knowledge. The earliest mushrooms known date to the mid-Cretaceous era, so by the time humans were roaming the planet, these would have been a convenient food source for those who resorted to foraging to obtain their next meal.
In ancient Greece and Rome, mushrooms were thought to be of high value, not only due to their taste but also for medicinal reasons. We have writings from a Roman philosopher named Claudius Galenus, who lived in the Roman Empire at the height of its greatness regarding the proper foraging techniques for mushrooms. He utilized them in his observations of medical experimentation in the pursuit of knowledge. And by 600 CE, humans living in China and Japan had begun to cultivate mushrooms purposefully for their own consumption.
China is where our understanding of the health benefits of mushrooms blossomed. Some of the first medical texts, dating as far back as 200 AD, discuss the application of mushrooms such as the reishi as a powerful medicine that could be taken regularly, with no risk of toxic side effects. Chinese writings emphasize the importance of high-quality sourcing, meaning that to get the most of your mushrooms, they should be obtained from a nutrient-rich area and cultivated with practiced care. Years have been spent perfecting cultivation techniques to ensure that cultivators only the best specimens available.
The transition of mushrooms from simple fungus to food was much slower in the US, but by 1824, they were finally referenced in an actual cookbook. A little over a century later, mushrooms soared in popularity within American homes with the debut of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup. Since then, we’ve developed an array of recipes that include mushrooms in some form. In fact, per a 2019 Datassential report shared by the Mushroom Council, “On 80% of all menus, mushrooms are one of the top ingredients appearing on menus.” However, despite the widely appreciated taste of the mushrooms, their powerful medicinal benefits remain largely overlooked.
What Are the Medical Benefits of Mushrooms?
For starters, mushrooms are a known source of several vitamins and minerals that help strengthen the human body. In fact, according to Angela Lemmond, a dietician from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, mushrooms have 15 vitamins and minerals, a fact that has been widely promoted thus far in trending wellness articles in 2021.
Antioxidants such as selenium and ergothioneine help do several things. Benefits of mushroom-derived antioxidants include a strengthened immune system. Meanwhile, fiber is an important factor in managing people’s weight management, given its role in regulating the digestive system.
What Do the Experts Say About Edible Mushrooms?
Angela Lemmond says, “Mushrooms are a great food to consume when you have minor inflammation, such as any injury, or if you have any autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.” That’s because the antioxidants they contain are anti-inflammatory compounds..
Some specific mushrooms have additional properties. For instance, researchers from Microsoft News discovered that “Reishi mushrooms may also lead to improvements in sleep, according to a study in rats that were fed reishi extracts. Reishi are also being studied for their antioxidant and immune-enhancing properties.”
Overall, many experts agree that you can benefit greatly by adding more mushrooms to your diet regardless of your specific circumstances. Brian St. Pierre, the director of performance nutrition at Precision Nutrition, states, “The best mushrooms are the ones you enjoy and will eat most consistently. They all provide an array of benefits.”
What Is the Best Way to Add Mushrooms to Your Diet?
It’s obvious could all benefit from eating more fungi, but there are a number of reasons it might be hard to incorporate mushrooms in your daily food intake. For example, lack of access to fresh mushrooms at your local grocer. Or, maybe the time (or desire) to cook them. Regardless, we’ve got some ideas (and new products!) you can use to get more mushrooms into your diet in fun and easy ways!
Start Meatless Monday
Some of us aren’t interested in going full vegetarian, but love the idea of implementing one day a week where we skip the meat and eat more veggies instead. Although fungi is not technically a vegetable, mushrooms are a great substitute for meat as they are hearty and offer a ton of healthy nutrients to your meal.
Bonus: Not only are mushrooms lower in calories than meat alternatives, they are also just as filling, so you don’t end up feeling like you didn’t get a “real” meal.
Incorporate Mushroom Premade Sides
Mushrooms are substantial enough to carry their weight as the main course of a dish, but they can also be integrated into your favorite meals as a topping or side dish. Whether your preference lies with meaty roasts or salads, you can add a layer of mushrooms over the top with ease, adding to your overall intake of this ingredient.
If you don’t have time to cook your own fresh mushrooms, heat up and add a bag of Porta Béla Minute Mushrooms and ta-da! A side dish or topping worthy of any meal… and in just one minute!
Snack on Mushroom Snacks like Crisps and Jerky
Outside of regular meals, you can treat yourself to mushrooms as a snack! The Food Network named our SHROOMS Jerky one of their top 10 best low-calorie snacks available in stores.
South Mill Champs grows fresh mushrooms and turns them into these on-the-go snacks as a healthy alternative to traditional chips and jerky’s so our fans can feel like they’re still enjoying their old favorite snacks, just in a new and elevated way! Instead of relying on chips to get you through any hunger pangs and cravings, you can enjoy healthy (and tasty) mushrooms- all of the flavor and none of the guilt!
Pro tip: Try adding our SHROOMS crisps as a crunchy topper to your favorite salad, pasta or even pizza!
Add Mushrooms To Your Coffee
As it turns out, snacks and meals aren’t the only ways to increase your consumption of mushrooms and all of their beneficial properties. For those that lead high-paced lives and are continually on the go, SHROOMS Instant Mushroom Coffee might be the perfect solution. While the coffee itself does not taste like mushrooms, it includes all the advantages of this trendy ingredient.
We went the extra step and separated its coffee products into three varieties, each made with a different mushroom and intended to help with different issues. Whether your primary concern is
in supporting your immune system, increasing your energy level, or helping you improve your concentration, our new line of mushroom coffee was designed to provide all of the amazing benefits of mushrooms in a new and innovative way.
If you’re looking to increase your mushrooms intake in 2021, these simple ideas are a perfect place to start. Be sure to subscribe to our blog to get updates on new mushroom products and trends this year!