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Mushroom-mania is sweeping the nation

The fungi finally have their day in the sun.

CLEVELAND — First it was kale, then acai berries and chia seeds, but there’s a new “it” food in town: The mighty mushroom! 

Consumer Reports took a closer look at mushrooms and found them popping up everywhere.  Supermarket shelves,  snacks, coffee, broth, and supplements, even in personal-care products.

Mushroom-mania is sweeping the country. Sales of fresh mushrooms reached almost $111 million in January of this year, up more than 8 percent from 2020.

And it’s no wonder. Edible mushrooms like shiitake and oyster can contain all kinds of nutrients.

"Mushrooms can be great sources of potassium, selenium, and antioxidants. Plus they have fiber, and some types are rich in vitamin D," says Consumer Reports Health Editor, Trisha Calvo.

All that goodness plus their deep savory flavor make them versatile culinary candidates too, great for salads, stir-fries, and meat substitutes.

But what about claims that mushrooms have medicinal properties? That the reishi mushroom helps with anxiety, for example, or that lion’s mane improves concentration? Can chaga mushrooms really help kill cancer cells?

"There has been some preliminary research to support a few of these claims, but what works in a lab or in mice doesn’t necessarily apply to humans. More studies are needed," Calvo said. 

If you are interested in mushroom supplements, Consumer Reports advises you check with your doctor before taking them, especially if you have a medical condition. Some can interfere with medications you may already be taking. And because supplements aren’t tightly regulated, you can’t always be sure that what you’re buying contains what the label says it does.

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