When five Well+Good staffers met up after ExpoWest—the country's biggest showcase for new natural food products—to talk emerging trends, everyone blurted out the same thing: "Mushrooms! Ohmygod, they were everywhere!"
No, that doesn't mean the convention center looked like some sort of buttoned-up Burning Man. It's adaptogenic mushrooms, like reishi, cordyceps, and lion's mane, that are seriously trending. The concept isn't entirely new; wellness insiders have been reaping the benefits in tea and powdered form for years. But in 2017 'shrooms are officially going mainstream, making cameos in everything from bottled beverages to snack bars.
"The [spike in interest] points to a larger trend in wellness, which is shopping for foods and beverages with ingredients that help people adapt to stress."
"We've seen shoppers take a growing interest in medicinal mushrooms in the last few years, and varieties like reishi, chaga, and others are finding their way into more products—especially bottled drinks and supplements," says Elly Truesdell, Whole Foods Market’s global senior coordinator of local brands, product innovation, and development.
Why the sudden fascination with fungi? Truesdell says they're an easy way to sneak nutrients into one's diet, particularly for those with crazy-busy lifestyles. "The [spike in interest] points to a larger trend in wellness, which is shopping for foods and beverages with ingredients that help people adapt to stress," she says. Reishi and cordyceps, for example, are not only adaptogenic—they've also been linked to boosting immunity and even fighting cancer.
Rounded up here are five new and soon-to-launch products that should be on your radar this year, all containing adaptogenic mushrooms. Coffee and chocolate are included—no, this is not a hallucination.
Scroll down for 5 buzzy new foods and drinks containing adaptogenic mushrooms.
Rebbl Reishi Beverages
Adaptogenic mushrooms don't exactly taste like candy. But one delicious way to reap their benefits is via Rebbl's reishi chocolate "milk", in grocery stores now. A combo of dark cocoa, vanilla, coconut milk, and soothing reishi, it's definitely easier on the palate than a straight-up mushroom tea or tonic.
Rebbl also sells a reishi cold brew spiked with coconut oil, making it possible to get your coffee fix and daily dose of mushrooms at the same time. (Multitasking FTW.)
Purely Elizabeth Granola Bars
This summer, health-conscious granola company Purely Elizabeth will be releasing a new line of wellness bars, each "flavor" with a specific function: Immunity, Mind, Shine (for hair, skin, and nails), Energy, and Refresh. And they contain—you guessed it—mushrooms.
Even cooler? You may not have tried some of them before. The Refresh bar, for example, has antrodia, which is said to help the body recover. And lion's mane is the key ingredient in the Mind bar, since it's linked to boosting cognitive function (perfect for stashing in your snack drawer at work).
“After I discovered the extraordinary benefits of mushrooms that have been used for thousands of years to promote health, they seemed like the perfect ingredients to include in our products,” says Elizabeth Stein, founder and CEO of Purely Elizabeth and certified holistic health coach. An added bonus: They're safe for kids to snack on, too.
Amazing Grass Elixirs
If your goal is to sip on something that gives you a whole range of benefits all at once, get ready to add a new powder to your smoothie ingredients list. This summer, plant-based supplement line Amazing Grass is dropping three new drink mixes combining mushrooms with other functional ingredients such as hibiscus flower (Beauty), matcha (Brain), and turmeric (Belly).
"When we began developing our organic elixir line around adaptogenic herbs, we knew mushrooms were some of the most effective ingredients we could use," says Ryan Therriault, VP of marketing and innovation at Amazing Grass. He points out that the brand has a long history of using mushrooms, packing six of them in its Immunity Green Superfood blend.
As an added bonus, the elixir powders weren't just crafted with smoothie lovers in mind. Each one tastes great with plain water, too. (That's more than you can say for lots of superfood mixes.)
Gaia Herbs Mushrooms + Herbs Supplements
Could mushrooms be the next turmeric? Gaia Herbs is banking on it. In 2016, the brand went big with the anti-inflammatory spice, but 2017 is shaping up to be the year of the mushroom.
Later this month, Gaia will debut its new line of 'shroom supplements, with formulations that address the liver, immune system, brain, adrenals, and inflammation. "The therapeutic mushrooms category is very robust, yet the differentiation that Gaia Herbs brings is twofold: We're using the entire mushroom body, and we combine the mushrooms with herbs used beneficially for thousands of years," says Gaia Herbs founder Ric Scalzo. Sounds like a tag team that's as strong as avocado and chocolate.
Wild Alaska Chaga Chocolate
Even dessert is getting the mushroom treatment. In addition to Freaky Chocolate, the added sugar-free adaptogenic bar brand, Wild Alaska Chaga recently launched a dark chocolate featuring anti-inflammatory chaga mushroom. The bar, made with organic cocoa beans, has a slightly woodsy flavor.
If you like something sweet after dinner, a few squares (and maybe the brand's signature chaga tea) would make a worthy addition to your evening routine. It's a whole lot less work than unicorn hot cocoa—and arguably just as magical.
Ugly juice or spirit animal crackers, anyone? Yep, these buzzy new products will be hitting store shelves any minute now. And for more solid additions to your shopping cart, check out these on-the-rise food trends spotted by Whole Foods.
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