Reishi mushrooms, also known as lingzhi mushrooms, are considered one of the top superfoods in nature. Ganoderma lucidum has been used for over 2,000 years in many Asian countries for promoting health and longevity. Interestingly, images of these mushrooms began appearing in art around 1,400 AD, and they are associated with Taoism. (1) In China, G. lucidum is called lingzhi, whereas in Japan the name for the Ganodermataceae family is reishi or mannentake. The Latin root lucidus means “shiny” or “brilliant.” If you get a chance to see one in person, you will notice that its name accurately describes the glossy appearance of the mushroom.
Where are they found?
The reishi mushroom can be found in warm and wooded regions. It grows on hardwood in locations like Asia, the South Pacific, southern Europe, and the southeastern United States. A slightly different species, Ganoderma tsugae or the hemlock reishi mushroom, can be found in the northeastern United States. For gardeners, there are “grow your own” reishi mushroom kits available that might interest you.
What makes it a superfood?
This superfood mushroom has a high concentration of unique bioactive molecules, such as terpenoids, steroids, phenols, nucleotides, glycoproteins, and polysaccharides, that pack a healthy punch. The category of molecules I want to call out in particular is the polysaccharides. These are powerful molecules that have been researched to show a broad range of healing and longevity-supporting bioactivities. These bioactivities include an anti-inflammatory impact, balancing blood sugar, antiulcer effects, anti-tumor growth, and supporting your immune system. (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
This mushroom’s proteins contain all the essential amino acids and are especially rich in lysine and leucine. Both are proteins that support critical systems in your body, including the energy production that enables your metabolism.
The low total fat content and high proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids is a win for your heart health. Additionally, polyunsaturated fatty acids have been shown to provide an anti-inflammatory benefit. (8, 9)
How to add them to your nutrition plan?
A variety of commercial G. lucidum products are available in various forms, such as powders, dietary supplements, and tea. A great choice is Triple Defense Boost, which contains reishi mushroom extract. Also, you can purchase the mushrooms whole. These won’t pack as many concentrated nutrients but are great for culinary adventuring.
Thanks for reading and exploring the exciting world of superfoods!
Sarah is the Shaklee Pure Performance Team dietitian/nutritionist. She is also a two-time competitor for the USA in the Summer Games, participating in the 10-meter Air Rifle event in 2012 and 2016. Her experience as an elite athlete and her status as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and Licensed Nutritionist (LN) make her perfectly suited to consult with Shaklee athletes on their nutritional needs. Sarah graduated from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas with a BS in Nutrition in 2013 and then earned an MBA in Entrepreneurship and Healthcare Management. She specializes in weight loss, improved sport performance, diabetes prevention, heart health, healthy aging, smoking cessation, and performance goals. Her hobbies include church ministries, mountaineering, physical fitness, and gardening. Keep up with her on her website or on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.