Black fungus belongs to the Auricularia family and its scientific name is Auricularia polytricha. It is one of the 10 to 15 different species of mushrooms worldwide and is mainly found in China. Black fungus is also called "cloud ear fungus" or "tree ear fungus" because they look like shriveled ear lobes.
What Is Black Fungus?
As its name suggests, black fungus is often dark brown or black in color. Black fungus mushrooms have a chewy or jelly-like consistency. They are commonly sold dried but return to their original gelatin-like texture when reconstituted with water.
Black fungus thrives in humid climates where you'll often find it growing on tree trunks and fallen logs, per the University of Tennessee. Auricularia mushrooms are cultivated in China, Hawaii, India and other Asian or Pacific Island countries with a tropical climate.
Black Fungus Nutrition
Cloud ear or black fungus mushrooms are low in calories and fats but, like many other types of mushrooms, they're relatively high in protein and fiber. A 1-cup serving of dried black fungus mushrooms contains:
1) 80 calories
2) 0.2 g fat3)
3) 0 mg cholesterol
4) 20.4 g carbohydrates
5) 19.6 g fiber
6) 2.6 g protein
Black fungus mushrooms also offer up vitamins and minerals, particularly B vitamins and iron. One cup of dried black fungus mushrooms contains:
1) 18% of the DV for riboflavin
2) 11% of the DV for vitamin B3
3) 3% of the DV for vitamin B5
4) 3% of the DV for folate
5) 2% of the DV for vitamin B6
6) 9% of the DV for iron
7) 6% of the DV for magnesium
8) 4% of the DV for potassium
9) 4% of the DV for phosphorus
10) 3% of the DV for calcium
11) 3% of the DV for zinc
Research has shown that black fungus mushrooms extract, in particular, could deliver some valuable benefits.
Promote a Healthier Gut
Prebiotics like polysaccharides help to feed the good bacteria in your gut, which can promote a healthier microbiome overall and potentially ease digestive issues, says the Mayo Clinic.
Rich in Antioxidants
All mushrooms, including black fungus mushrooms, are rich in compounds like polyphenols and flavonoids. These compounds are known to exert antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties, according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
The direct antioxidant benefits of black fungus mushrooms in humans aren't yet well understood, but one thing is known for sure: Boiling the mushrooms before eating can increase their antioxidant activity even more, according to a February 2019 study in the Journal of Food Science and Technology.
Protect Cognitive Health
Higher intakes of mushrooms, in general, seem to have a protective effect on the brain, thanks to their rich antioxidant content.
Older adults who enjoyed 1 ½ cups of cooked mushrooms per week were less likely to develop cognitive impairment compared to those who ate less than one weekly cup of the fungi, found a January 2019 study published in The Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.
Linked to Protecting Against Cancer
The antioxidants in mushrooms might also play a protective role against cancer, particularly breast cancer.
An April 2021 meta-analysis in Advances in Nutrition that looked at 17 studies and more than 19,500 subjects observed that those who ate 18 grams of mushrooms daily had a 45 percent lower chance of developing cancer compared to those who never ate mushrooms.
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