Discover The Magic Of Four Functional Mushrooms

We’re not talking about your garden variety button or portobello. With names like lion’s mane, chaga, reishi and cordyceps, ‘functional mushrooms’ sound pretty intriguing

Left: Reishi mushrooms are vibrantly coloured. Right: It's easy to see how Lion's Mane got its name. Photo / iStock.

Step aside acai berries... there's a 'shroom boom happening in the health industry, says HealthPost blogger Je T'aime Hayr.

Anyone that knows me knows I’ve always taken an interest in ways of bolstering my wellbeing through natural means. After giving birth to my twins last summer, I was very run down and my body was left depleted. This can happen when a mother’s body is left devoid of nutrients due to them being used to nourish her growing baby, or babies. As a result, my immune system was shot and I was more susceptible to catching winter ills. After doing some research, I found and began taking mushroom supplements to support my immunity. Much to my delight, by the time winter rolled around I only had a minor scratchy throat that lasted for a couple of days. Suffice to say, I’m a believer in the magic of mushrooms. Because the effects of mushrooms are cumulative, taking mushroom supplements is now part of my everyday routine.

Functional mushrooms are essentially the reproductive system of the fungi kingdom as they grow out of trees to release spores. They are rich in bioactive compounds such as polyphenols, polysaccharides and glucans, which support overall health and wellbeing. Mushrooms also promote gut health, as their prebiotic properties feed the established probiotic bacteria in the gut. But it’s their ability to support the immune system that has the industry buzzing. It’s said that they support the body’s immune defences, so it’s well prepared when under attack. While these benefits won’t appear overnight, they get much better over time.

There are a few fancy mushrooms to choose from. Here’s a rundown of the ones getting people the most excited.

Chaga is known as the ‘King of the Adaptogens’ as it helps support the body’s biological stress response. It is rich in antioxidants, great for a healthy immune system and supports gut health.

Nicknamed the ‘Mushroom of Immortality’, reishi is rich in polysaccharides and triterpenes, which have long been considered beneficial for health and wellbeing. They are now being studied for their ability to support healthy blood sugar levels and a healthy immune system.

Traditional healers in the Himalayas recommend cordyceps as a healing tonic for all ailments. They claim it supports energy levels, normal appetite, a healthy libido, as well as endurance and normal sleeping patterns.

Lion’s mane is said to aid digestion as well as support energy levels and strength. It has become known as the ‘smart mushroom’ due to its ability to support healthy brain function and mental focus.

Left: Reishi mushrooms are vibrantly coloured. Right: It's easy to see how Lion's Mane got its name. Photo / iStock.

Liz Jury is a registered naturopath with more than 16 years of experience in natural health. As the president of the Naturopaths & Medical Herbalists of New Zealand (NMHNZ) and the natural health expert at HealthPost, Liz is passionate about health education and helping others to lead naturally healthy lives.

Do functional mushrooms have any scientific evidence for health?
Over the last five years, there have been more than 600 studies looking into the health benefits of functional mushrooms. These foods have been treasured by different cultures for more than 2000 years, and for good reason.

Who should be using functional mushrooms?
You don’t need to be a wellness warrior to incorporate mushrooms into your diet. They can be part of most people’s regular diet, supporting a healthy immune system, optimal wellbeing and a normal stress response.

What’s the best way to add mushrooms into our diet?
While mushrooms are slightly bitter tasting, taking them is pretty easy and doesn’t involve any foraging. In addition to adding fresh functional mushrooms to meals, mushroom powders from quality brands such as Four Sigmatic and SuperFeast can be easily added to hot drinks, smoothies, or baking.

Left to Right: SuperFeast Chaga, Four Sigmatic Reishi Mushroom Elixir Mix, SuperFeast Mason's Mushrooms and Misty Day Shroom Brew. Photos / Supplied

Makes 16

10 Medjool dates
4 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
3 Tbsp cacao powder
1 ½ cups ground almonds
1 Tbsp SuperFeast Chaga powder
¼ tsp vanilla paste
pinch of salt
½ cup slivered almonds

2 Tbsp coconut oil, semi softened
2 Tbsp cacao powder
4 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp SuperFeast Reishi powder
16 walnut halves

1. De-pip and soak the dates in warm water until softened.

2. Combine the coconut oil, cacao powder, ground almonds, SuperFeast Chaga powder, vanilla and salt in a food processor. Drain the dates and add to food processor, pulsing until well combined.

3. Transfer the afghan mix to a medium bowl and add in slivered almonds. Knead through with hands until well combined.

4. Roll the mixture into 16 balls and place onto a lined tray. Gently press with 2 fingers to fatten into a cookie shape.

5. To make the ganache, combine the softened coconut oil, maple syrup and cacao powder with SuperFeast Reishi powder in a small bowl stirring until smooth. Spoon 1 teaspoon of ganache on top of each afghan and press a walnut half on top.

6. Set in the refrigerator for 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe by Lena Fischer, nutritionist at HealthPost.

HealthPost blogger Je T'aime Hayr says functional mushrooms are part of her daily routine. Photo / Supplied

1. SuperFeast Chaga is the ultimate tonic for those who need to give their immune and nervous system some extra support. 

2. Four Sigmatic Reishi Mushroom Elixir is your new nightly ritual for healthy sleep, combining organic reishi, rose hips and tulsi. 

3. SuperFeast Mason’s Mushrooms is a multi-blend of wild-crafted functional mushrooms for everyday health. 

4. Misty Day Shroom Brew blends gotu kola,chaga and lion’s mane with peppermint and cacao for a caffeine-free way to kick start your day. 

Shop mushroomsFast delivery on over 5000 natural health and beauty products you can trust. Always read the label and use as directed. Supplementary to a balanced diet. Healthpost, Auckland.

For more information, visit

Share this:
New Zealand Herald

New Zealand Herald

Subscribe to E-Newsletter