Cordyceps is a type of fungus that grows on the larvae of moths.
It was first utilized as a medicine in ancient China, where it has been used for centuries.
It’s often said that “medicines and foods have a common origin”.
Based upon this idea, cordyceps could be considered one of the most important members of the fungus family, as it contains both beneficial macronutrients and micronutrients.
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Cordyceps contains a wide range of important nutrients, including essential amino acids and vitamins like B1, B2, B12, and K. It also includes various different kinds of carbohydrates such as monosaccharides, oligosaccharides, and polysaccharides.
The macro nutrition profile of cordyceps breaks down as follows:
Proteins | 59.8%
Fats | 8.8%
Carbohydrate | 29.1%
It’s noted that the breakdown of the fat is 7:3 unsaturated to saturated.
Medicinal Constituents of Cordyceps:
From a medicinal perspective, cordyceps contains important polysaccharides, proteins, sterols, nucleosides, and other trace elements (Hyun 2008; Yang et al. 2009, 2010; Li et al. 2011).
Specifically, these compounds include cordycepic acid, adenosine, exo-polysaccharides, vitamins, enzymes, etc. (Table 1). Out of these, Cordycepin, i.e., 3′-deoxyadenosine (Fig. 1) isolated from ascomycetes fungus C. militaris, is the main active constituent which is most widely studied for its medicinal value having a broad spectrum of biological activity (Cunningham et al. 1950).
The fruiting body harbors many abundant amino acids such as lysine, glutamic acid, proline, and threonine as well. The fruiting body is also rich in unsaturated fatty acids (e.g., linoleic acid), which comprise about 70 % of the total fatty acids.
There are differences in adenosine (0.18 and 0.06 %) and Cordycepin (0.97 and 0.36 %) contents between the fruiting body and the corpus, respectively (Hyun 2008).
|Cordycepin||Cunningham et al. (1950)|
|Cordycepic acid||Chatterjee et al. (1957)|
|N-acetylgalactosamine||Kawaguchi et al. (1986)|
|Adenosine||Guo et al. (1998)|
|Ergosterol and ergosteryl esters||Yuan et al. (2007)|
|Bioxanthracenes||Isaka et al. (2001)|
|Hypoxanthine||Huang et al. (2003)|
|Acid deoxyribonuclease||Ye et al. (2004)|
|Polysaccharide and exopolysaccharide||Yu et al. (2007, 2009), Xiao et al. (2010), Yan et al. (2010|
|Chitinase||Lee and Min (2003)|
|Macrolides (C10H14O4)||Rukachaisirikul et al. (2004)|
|Cicadapeptins and myriocin||Krasnoff et al. (2005)|
|Superoxide dismutase||Wanga et al. (2005)|
|Protease||Hattori et al. (2005)|
|Naphthaquinone||Unagul et al. (2005)|
|Cordyheptapeptide||Rukachaisirikul et al. (2006)|
|Dipicolinic acid||Watanabe et al. (2006)|
|Fibrynolytical enzyme||Kim et al. (2006)|
|Lectin||Jung et al. (2007)|
|Cordymin||Wonga et al. (2011)|
Cordyceps is a fungus that is rich in many different nutrients, from proteins and fats to specialized carbohydrates.
It also contains specific molecules like Cordyceptin, which has been shown to be helpful for various ailments.
Consider adding cordyceps to your diet.