Mushroom Health Benefits: 15 Ways Mushrooms Improve Your Health

Mushrooms are fungi that come in various shapes, colors, and sizes. Edible mushrooms can range from everyday fare to a costly delicacy. For centuries, people have used mushrooms for their flavors and ability to provide several essential nutrients.

Edible fungi come in interesting textures and flavors, from meaty and dense Portobellos to earthy hen-of-the-woods to delicate chanterelles and lobster-like Lion's mane mushrooms. Beyond the diet, mushrooms feature in some Eastern traditional medicine.

More and more people are now attracted to consuming mushrooms. The 2020 Industry Report estimates the global mushroom consumption market annual growth of 41% between 2018 and 2026. (1)

So, what do mushrooms do for your body? And how are mushrooms good for your health?

From a sharper brain to a healthier gut, the health benefit of mushroom is numerous. Here are the top 11 perks you may enjoy by adding mushrooms to your plate:

Top 15 Health Benefits Of Mushrooms

1. Mushrooms Provide Immense Nutritional Value

One of the essential health benefits of mushrooms is that they are a storehouse of excellent nutrients.

These unique fungi carry antioxidants (e.g., choline, selenium, vitamin C, and vitamin D) and minerals (e.g., copper, phosphorus, and zinc). But even with the wealth of macro and micronutrients, they are fat-free, low in calories, and cholesterol-free.

Mushrooms are also rich in fibers, especially the soluble fiber beta-glucan. They also have a low glycemic index, meaning they have a minimal negative impact on insulin response or blood glucose due to their low carbohydrate content.

Edible mushrooms contain Vitamin C in abundance. Other essential vitamins in mushrooms are B vitamins like pyridoxine (B6), riboflavin (B1), niacin (B3), and pantothenic acid (B5). Most mushrooms also contain vitamin D. Combining these vitamins helps protect heart health and improve skin health and the digestive system.

2. They Boost Your Immune System

Giving your immune system a push is one of the many significant mushroom health benefits.

Mushroom polysaccharides—including beta-glucans (2)—found in fungi like Turkey Tail, Reishi, Oysters, Maitake, and Shiitake mushrooms, boost the immune system. These fibers, also called biological response modifiers, are now recognized as anti-tumor and anti-infective drugs, protecting against infection by bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms.

Numerous scientific studies have found that edible fungi stimulate the immune system's macrophages, enhancing its functions. Macrophages are specialized cells that eat and destroy foreign bodies, microbes, viruses, and other intruders, making you less susceptible to severe illnesses.

Additionally, making certain mushrooms part of your healthy diet gives you macronutrients that support a healthy immune system.

For example, selenium helps your body make antioxidant enzymes to prevent cell damage. Selenium is present in Cremini or Portobello mushrooms. In addition, vitamin B6 in mushrooms like Shiitake and Maitake helps your body form red blood cells, proteins, and DNA and can stimulate the immune system.

3. Edible Fungi Aids In Weight Loss

Many people are attracted to the ability of mushrooms to aid weight loss. In addition, they are beneficial for those following a plant-based diet or those trying to avoid white and red meat.

So, how can mushrooms help you lose weight while still eating well?

We already know mushrooms are tremendously low in calories yet contain dietary fiber, protein, and several other indispensable nutrients. Therefore, you can get much of what you need from mushrooms without venturing into different, less healthy food categories.

Furthermore, recent studies have shown that consuming mushrooms helps people feel fuller for longer due to their dietary fibers.

Anyone on their weight loss journey, who has tried to stick to a diet, knows that one of the most challenging parts is dissatisfaction or not feeling full after eating. Mushrooms keep you feeling full while still eating healthy. This is a win-win and can relieve people looking to lose weight but who don't know how to deal with the continuous feeling of hunger while dieting.

Mushrooms also help to burn fat in the body. This is because their nutrients help to regulate glucose levels in the blood. The excellent nutritional value of edible fungi will keep you energized and allow you to work out for longer

4. Packed With Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Another reason mushrooms are good for you is their ability to combat inflammation.

Several studies (3) have demonstrated that beta-glucans in mushrooms can help suppress inflammation. The anti-inflammatory effect of the mushrooms is mediated by regulating various inflammatory proteins, such as interleukins, nitric oxide, interferon-gamma, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha. Mushrooms also regulate the activity of prostaglandin E2, a naturally occurring steroid.

5. Mushrooms Help Prevent Cancer Proliferation And Spread

Emerging evidence suggests adding fungi to your diet may help prevent particular cancers.

The antioxidants in the mushrooms could protect cells from damage and the subsequent development of tumors.

In a review of multiple studies published on September 2021 (4), people with a higher intake of mushrooms had a 34 percent lower risk of cancer than those who ate the least mushrooms. This was particularly true in the case of cancer in the breast.

In addition, some mushrooms also inhibit the proliferation and spread of cancerous cells. For instance, Lion's mane mushrooms cause apoptosis of cancer cells, a mechanism in which the cells undergo self-induced and spontaneous death.

Likewise, Cordycepin, a compound present in Cordyceps mushroom, can induce the death (5) of cancer cells in the bladder, liver, stomach, kidney, breast, and lungs. The compound also stops growth by arresting the proliferation cycle. 

Similarly, the Reishi mushroom has potent anti-angiogenesis properties. It stops the proliferation and formation of new blood vessels that feed the cancer cells.

Research shows that most mushrooms also fight the side effects often associated with conventional treatment methods.For example, when treating breast cancer with radiotherapy or chemotherapy, eating mushrooms can increase the effectiveness of these treatment methods while shielding you from side effects. Dietary supplements containing mushrooms will also facilitate a detox after chemotherapy and radiotherapy. 

6. Mushrooms Promote The Health Of The Gut

We will now move on to how mushroom benefits gut health. Researchers have labeled various fungi as gut health mushrooms because of their ability to support the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. 

Consuming these chopped mushrooms may help populate your GI tract with the right balance of beneficial bacteria. This will help your GI tract be healthy and strengthen your immune system.

Doctors and health practitioners consider the gut our second brain. For this reason, a healthy gut translates into solid immunity, a healthy mind, and a healthy body. 

In a critical review (6) of the gut health-promoting benefits of edible mushrooms published in 2017, researchers found that mushrooms are rich in carbohydrates, like hemicellulose, chitin, alpha and beta glucans, xylans, mannans, and galactans. Mushrooms can, therefore, act as a prebiotic to stimulate gut microbiota growth and confer health benefits to the host, keeping their gut healthy.

7. They are Rich In Vitamin D

Vitamin D is one of the most vital nutrients for healthy living. The vitamin has many health benefits, including boosting the immune system. Luckily, mushrooms can produce vitamin D by absorption from the sun.

After UV light or sunlight exposure, the vitamin D mushrooms generate high amounts of vitamin D (7), much like the skin of humans. Therefore, the vitamin D2 level of fresh mushrooms is likely higher than most other vitamin D-containing foods. 

That is why mushrooms—for example, button mushrooms—have the potential to be the only unfortified, non-animal food source of vitamin D that can provide a considerable amount of vitamin D2 in a single serving. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, boosting bone health and reducing the risk of osteoporosis in old age. Vitamin D supports muscle and bone function and may have anti-diabetic, anti-cancer, and heart-protective properties.

8. Edible Fungi Are A Great Vegan Alternative For Proteins

In addition to providing an excellent alternative for protein, especially for people who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, mushrooms are also a good source of essential amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. They are gluten-free and contain a complete amino acid profile akin to meat.

Oyster mushrooms have one of the highest amounts of protein, followed by white button mushrooms and Morel mushrooms. Portobello, Shiitake, and Maitake are not too far behind.

Many food manufacturers now use mushrooms as an ingredient in vegan products. These include mushroom-protein meatballs, nuggets, sausages, and meat-free bacon.

9. They Help Fight Depression And Anxiety

Mushrooms have anti-depressant effects and are being studied as a potential treatment for mental disorders like anxiety, depression, and stress.

Lion's mane mushrooms increase dopamine, the happy hormone, according to a 2018 animal-based study (8). The anti-inflammatory effects can also help temper inflammation in depression (9). Additionally, they also increase nerve regeneration (10) in the depression-affected regions of the brain.

Similarly, researchers have found that Lion's mane mushrooms showed anxiolytic benefits (11). This could be related to the increased production of neurons, stimulated by the medicinal fungus.

Several medicinal mushrooms (like Lion's mane, Reishi, and Turkey Tail) are adaptogens, increasing the body's resistance to stress and protecting against stress-related damage. In addition, Adaptogen fungi help to stabilize cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and help the body reach equilibrium.

10. Mushrooms Have Incredible Brain-boosting effects

How is mushroom good for you and your brain, you may wonder. Scientific studies show that Chaga, Reishi, and Lion's Mane mushrooms are the three most effective medicinal fungi for boosting brain health. These mushrooms can help you fight mild cognitive impairment, keeping your brain sharp even in old age. 

Lion's mane mushroom contains two bioactive compounds: Erinacines and Hericenones, widely known for their ability to boost brain function. In addition, the fruiting body of Lion's mane mushroom has anti-dementia activity (12).

This incredible medicinal mushroom is also known to enhance cognitive function, protect against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, and improve mental performance, including memory, focus, and clarity.

Likewise, Lingzhi or Reishi mushroom combats mental stress. Ganoderic acid, a type of triterpenes found exclusively in Reishi, provides the apoptogenic potential of the mushroom. The mushroom also decreases inflammation (13) linked to depression and protects the brain against oxidant damage.

11. They Contribute To A Healthy Heart

Heart health mushrooms like Chaga, Lion's mane, Shiitake, and Reishi have an abundance of potassium, a mineral known for reducing the negative impact of sodium on your body. Potassium also lowers the tension in blood vessels, potentially helping to decrease high blood pressure. In addition, more potassium in your diet encourages sodium excretion in your urine.

The health benefits of mushrooms on the heart (14) don't stop here. The nutritional benefits mushrooms offer may also help improve triglyceride and cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation. This may translate to decreased risk of cardiovascular diseases, stroke, heart disease, and heart attack.

Several medicinal mushrooms—including cremini mushrooms—lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels and prevent blood clots. Animal studies have demonstrated that Lion's mane mushroom (15), Reishi (16), and Chaga (17) have cardioprotective effects.


12. Mushrooms Fight Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition characterized by high blood sugar levels. According to the CDC(18), more than 130 million Americans are living with diabetes or prediabetes. Luckily, mushrooms can prevent and fight diabetes. 

For starters, mushrooms have a low glycemic load content and low glycemic index. Therefore, if you have diabetes, the mushrooms will not make your blood sugar levels rise. 

As noted earlier, mushrooms are high in potassium. One research study notes(19) that the body produces less insulin if potassium levels are deficient. Therefore, by increasing potassium in your body, mushrooms encourage your body to produce enough insulin.

Deficient insulin levels are a precursor for type 2 diabetes. Raising your potassium—and insulin levels—mushrooms can help reverse prediabetes, keeping it from progressing to type 2 diabetes. 

As noted earlier, mushrooms also fight weight gain. Research shows(20) weight gain is one of the leading causes of insulin resistance, which, in turn, causes type 2 diabetes. By facilitating weight loss, mushrooms prevent insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. 

In people with diabetes, mushrooms help lower blood sugar levels, keeping the glucose levels in the healthy range. The fungi also reduce the risk of developing long-term diabetes complications. 


13. Mushrooms Improve Skin Health

Different mushrooms have varying skin benefits. However, two mushrooms that stand out in the skin health category are Chaga and Reishi mushrooms.

Chaga mushroom(21) boasts an ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) score of 146,000, indicating that it is loaded with antioxidants. The antioxidants protect the skin from free radical damage and oxidative stress.

Moreover, Chaga protects the skin from ultraviolet light, ensuring the sun does not cause dark spots on your skin or increase the risk of skin cancer. Chaga is what you would call a natural sunscreen.

Chaga mushroom carries a unique compound called betulinic acid. This compound helps the skin maintain a youthful look, reducing the risk of premature aging.

Reishi mushrooms, on the other hand, stand out for restoring youth to aging skin and improving dry skin. Reishi also balances out oily skin and prevents and fixes acne.


14. Mushrooms Improve Hair Health

Nobody wants to lose their hair. Moreover, none of us wants to develop white hair while youthful.

Luckily, mushrooms can help you maintain healthy hair. A research study conducted in 2019(22) found that Chaga mushrooms enhance hair follicle proliferation. The study found that Chaga is more potent than Minoxidil, a medication commonly used to treat hair loss and balding.

The vitamin D in mushrooms nourishes the hair. Moreover, mushrooms prevent hair pigment and greying of hair.


15. Mushrooms Improve Sleep

According to a research study conducted in 2020(23), 30 to 40 percent of adults in the United States report insomnia annually. Lack of quality sleep carries numerous negative health repercussions—it increases the risk of:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Dementia
  • Obesity

Luckily, mushrooms can improve your sleep. One research study(24) observed that reishi mushroom prolonged sleep time in test subjects. The mushroom increased both non-REM sleep and total sleep time in the animal-based research.

One of the reasons people lose sleep at night is stress. Mushrooms are adaptogens that help the body adapt to stress, allowing you to enjoy deeper sleep.

How To Eat Mushrooms?

There are several ways to eat mushrooms for health benefits.

There are several ways to eat mushrooms for health benefits. Regarding edible mushrooms, you can eat raw or cooked mushrooms, sliced or unsliced.

However, you can't eat all mushrooms uncooked, especially medicinal or wild mushrooms. If you are consuming wild mushrooms, be cautious to avoid eating poisonous mushroom varieties that look like common mushrooms.

You can simmer mushrooms in a pot of water until soft or sautée them in a hot skillet. Moreover, you can add your mushrooms to other meals for flavor and texture.

If you are someone who wants to reap the benefits of the mushroom but, for various reasons, cannot whip up a meal, you can always opt for mushroom supplements. Many medicinal mushrooms are widely available in the form of capsules, powders, tablets, and tinctures. So pop those supplements in your bag and take them as you go. You can get supplements from your grocery stores or relax at home and order them online.

Take mushroom dosage into consideration when using medicinal mushrooms. Different mushrooms have different dosages. Therefore, to keep mushrooms safe, always talk to a healthcare professional to determine the best dosage.

Also, if you are currently taking prescription medication, talk to your doctor to avoid dangerous interactions. Talking to your doctor can help you avoid side effects that could pop up while trying to improve your immune function and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease with functional mushrooms.


Why Mushroom Is A Superfood?
Is Mushroom Good For Everyday?

Mushrooms are low in calories, savory, and a good source of vitamins and minerals, making them a good everyday food. However, use an ideal dosage, especially when consuming functional or medicinal mushrooms. Talk to a healthcare professional to determine the perfect dosage for different mushrooms.

Are Mushrooms Healthy For You?

Mushrooms are associated with several scientifically proven health benefits like anti-inflammatory effects, cancer prevention, memory and mental health boost, gut health promotion, and immunostimulatory properties. All of these make them a healthy food option.

Can I Combine Functional Mushrooms?

Different mushrooms often feature various unique benefits. Therefore, you may want to combine them to enjoy their benefits. However, before using more mushrooms together, talk to your doctor to ensure their ingredients won't interact and cause side effects.

Are There People Who Should Not Take Mushrooms?

Mushrooms are safe for consumption for many people. However, some people might be allergic to some varieties. If you are allergic to mushrooms, consuming them will be more harmful than beneficial. Before starting any mushrooms, ensure you are not allergic to them.

Can Pregnant Women Eat Mushrooms?

Mushrooms can be safe for pregnant women. However, research into mushrooms' effects on the pregnant woman and the baby growing inside her is lacking. Therefore, if you are pregnant, always talk to your doctor before adding mushrooms to your diet.

Do Mushrooms Interact with Medications?

If you take prescription medications, talk to your doctor before using mushrooms. Mushrooms can interact with some medicines—the most common medications that may interact with mushrooms include:

  • Anticoagulants – These prevent blood clotting. Some mushrooms also inhibit platelet aggregation. A combination of anticoagulants and mushrooms can increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Diabetes medications – Some mushrooms help people with diabetes lower blood sugar levels. If you are also taking medication to help you lower your blood sugar levels, this could increase the risk of hypoglycemia.

Final Thoughts

Several mushroom health benefits make these fungi a growing favorite amongst many people. From aiding in weight loss to their anti-cancer benefits, mushrooms are considered a superfood.

Additionally, they help combat inflammation and are rich in proteins, minerals, fiber, and vitamins. If mushrooms are not a regular item in your diet, you're missing all these excellent health benefits!


  1. 2020 Industry Report: Mushroom, (1)
  2. Stimulatory effect of β-glucans on Immune Cells, (2)
  3. An insight into anti-inflammatory effects of fungal beta-glucans, (3)
  4. Higher Mushroom Consumption Is Associated with Lower Risk of Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies, (4)
  5. Anti-tumor and anti-metastatic roles of Cordycepin, one bioactive compound of Cordyceps militaris, (5)
  6. A Critical Review on Health Promoting Benefits of Edible Mushrooms through Gut Microbiota, (6)
  7. A Review of Mushrooms as a Potential Source of Dietary Vitamin D, (7)
  8. Erinacine A-Enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelium Produces Antidepressant-Like Effects through Modulating BDNF/PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β Signaling in Mice, (8)
  9. Cytokines in major depression, (9)
  10. Neurotrophic properties of the Lion's mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia, (10),034eeb045436a171,750a15ad12ae25e9.html
  11. Hericium erinaceus Extract Reduces Anxiety and Depressive Behaviors by Promoting Hippocampal Neurogenesis in the Adult Mouse Brain, (11)
  12. Erinacine A-enriched Hericium erinaceus mycelium ameliorates Alzheimer's disease-related pathologies in APPswe/PS1dE9 transgenic mice, (12)
  13. Modulation of neuroinflammatory pathways by medicinal mushrooms, with particular relevance to Alzheimer's disease, (13)
  14. Mushroom Consumption and Cardiovascular Health: A Systematic Review, (14)
  15. Yamabushitake Mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) Improved Lipid Metabolism in Mice Fed a High-Fat Diet, (15)
  16. Differential effects of ganodermic acid S on the thromboxane A2-signaling pathways in human platelets, (16)
  17. Phytochemical characteristics and hypoglycaemic activity of fraction from mushroom Inonotus obliquus, (17)
  18. CDC 2022 National Diabetes Statistics Report, (18)CDC 2022 National Diabetes Statistics Report 
  19. Potassium and risk of Type 2 diabetes, (19) 
  20. What causes the insulin resistance underlying obesity?, (20) 
  21. Comparison of antioxidant activity and extraction techniques for commercially and laboratory prepared extracts from six mushroom species, (21)
  22.  Lanostane-type triterpenes from the sclerotium of Inonotus obliquus (Chaga mushrooms) as proproliferative agents on human follicle dermal papilla cells, (22) 
  23. Insomnia Overview: Epidemiology, Pathophysiology, Diagnosis and Monitoring, and Nonpharmacologic Therapy, (23)
  24. Extract of Ganoderma lucidum prolongs sleep time in rats, (24)