Next on the list of superfood mushrooms behind Lion’s Mane and Turkey Tail? Chaga. This mushroom variety, which grows on birch trees throughout Northern Europe, Northern Canada, Alaska, Siberia, Russia, and Korea, is distinguished in appearance by way of its bright orange interior (1). Despite its tough texture, Chaga mushrooms have for centuries been ground in powders and brewed in hot water for coffee or tea — revered primarily for their immune-boosting benefits. But as new research shows, there are many more reasons to add this nutrient-dense mushroom to your diet.
Here are five of the most notable:
1. To help lower cholesterol
Because of their high concentration of antioxidants, Chaga mushrooms are believed to reduce “bad” cholesterol, also known as low-density lipoprotein (LDL), while increasing “good” cholesterol, or high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Because of this, they may also help fight against cardiovascular disease — although further studies are required for more conclusive evidence (2).
2. To help prevent and (potentially) reverse cancer
The reason? Antioxidants, again. Because when the body can’t produce or doesn’t have enough antioxidants to prevent cell damage caused by free radicals, oxidative stress occurs — which is a contributing factor for many types of cancer.
In a 2010 study, Chaga was found to slow the growth of breast, cervical and lung cancer cells in a petri dish as well as in mice affected by tumors — evidence that the mushrooms “could be used as natural anticancer ingredients in the food and/or pharmaceutical industry,” cite researchers. (3) Unlike some other cancer treatments, which damage all cells (healthy and afflicted alike), the compounds in Chaga don’t appear to harm healthy cells, according to a study published in 2009 on colon cancer (4).
3. To fight inflammation and increase immunity
With various illnesses, from depression to chronic rheumatoid arthritis, believed to be caused in part by chronic inflammation, more and more light has been shed on the importance of anti-inflammatory foods like Chaga mushrooms (5). It all comes down to cytokines, a specialized protein that, in its beneficial form, regulates the immune system by triggering the stimulation of white blood cells to fight off harmful bacteria or viruses — and, in its harmful form, triggers inflammation (6). Chaga mushrooms do exactly what you’d want them to: stimulate the formation of beneficial cytokines and prevent the production of inflammatory cytokines (7).
4. To slow the aging process
The physical signs of aging (think wrinkles, graying hair, sunspots) are primarily caused by sun exposure, pollution, and other sources of oxidative stress which create too many free radicals for the body to successfully neutralize — resulting in accelerated aging. The best way to combat this is by upping the antioxidants, which Chaga mushrooms happen to be chock-full of. While no research has been done to prove Chaga’s anti-aging benefits, all signs point in that direction because of its proven success in combating various forms of oxidative stress (8).
5. To lower blood sugar
In a 2006 study conducted by researchers in South Korea, obese rats were fed a diet containing fermented Chaga mushrooms for eight weeks, after which their blood and urine were tested. The results showed lower blood sugar (9), with a later study citing a 31% decrease over the span of three weeks (10). These results are promising, as they suggest that Chaga may be advantageous for diabetics — although further studies are needed to provide conclusive evidence on the mushroom’s impact on humans.
Each serving of NeuRoast Classic Roast mushroom coffee, Instant Americano, and Instant Latte packs over 150 mg of Chaga mushroom extracts for a potent blast of antioxidants so you can start experiencing the benefits above!