Functional fungi: Mushroom-based drinks deliver health benefits

Functional mushrooms are trending especially in the beverage category due to the increasing interest in natural health and wellness products.

Release date: 16 November 2022

functional mushroom drink
(Image credit: The Bully Mermaid)

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Consumers are increasingly turning to foods and beverages with specific health and wellness benefits such as immunity, energy and relaxation, and mushrooms, which have been shown to provide many of these health claims, are increasingly sprouting as a functional ingredient for these strains. Product: %s. In fact, according to Data Bridge Market Research’s “Functional Cork Market” report, the ingredients market is projected to grow with a CAGR of 6.1% from 2022 to 2029.

According to Jamba Dunn, founder and CEO of functional beverage brand Rowdy Mermaid, medicinal mushrooms have been on the radar of food and beverage professionals for many years due to promising health research around 2012, a decade to become a mainstream ingredient.

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“This timeline has been shortened in large part by the pandemic and the sudden interest in natural immune boosters,” he said. “In early 2020, we participated in a conversation about the status of functional ingredients, and food and mushrooms were only mentioned as a food with potential properties. However, by the first quarter of 2021, there were already dozens of mushroom-infused drinks and foods promising immune and nootropic benefits. and the category has grown exponentially since then.

Consumers seek food as medicine

The most common functional mushrooms are reishi, lion’s mane, and chaga—what Dunn calls the “big three”—for their status as widely cultivated, well-researched foods.

“Mushrooms have been used in traditional Chinese medicine and other cultures forever,” said Nirmal Nair, founder and CEO of Sempera Organics. Food Explorer. “But here we see a trend towards food as medicine, and people are discovering that mushrooms have a lot to offer.”

He also shared that Google Trends has shown that searches for immune health and medicinal mushrooms have increased significantly during the pandemic as people lock in their homes and become more concerned with their daily health.

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“The challenge is that functional mushrooms have so many benefits that it often feels a bit silly to list all the functions in one package,” Dunn said. mushrooms can help lower blood sugar, prepare the body to fight viruses, help with weight loss and more.

Dunn added that since mushrooms are often thought of as poisonous in popular culture, he is trying to dispel these fears regarding the content as a whole.

“The fungi used in the products are not collected in anyone’s backyard, they are grown in sterile laboratories and are well-studied organisms,” he said. “Making this information available to the public will also help the industry grow.”

Mushrooms shine in functional drinks

Some other beverage brands, such as Lifeway Foods, have also adopted corks. MSHRM Oat line and Four Sigmatics Consider Cold Brew Ground Coffee. Rowdy Mermaid’s line of kombuchas contains mushrooms, but the additive really stands out in the brand’s Sparkling Tonic line with Adaptogens.

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“Beverages that typically use mushrooms have this flavor overlaid with milk, coconut, coffee, and other bitter herbs and flavors,” Dunn said. “Our product is light and fruity, like a hard sparkling water, and has absolutely zero mushroom flavor or funk.”

Unlike most other mushroom-based drinks, Rowdy Mermaid prefers not to use dried mushrooms in their products, but to use purified beta glucan extract to better correlate the weight of the ingredient with the function being investigated.

“We develop products using scientific research as our guide and we want our consumers to feel the benefits of our beverages,” Dunn said.

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