11 Adaptogen-Packed Snacks You Should Be Eating Right Now

We talked to a nutritionist and herbalist about how the natural healing plants can help reduce stress, and boost energy, mood, and immunity.

Thrillist/Grace Han
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Adaptogens are all the rage right now, appearing in TikToks, wellness blogs, and of course, Goop. According to Tastewise, interest in food and beverages containing adaptogens is up 24 percent since January 2020. Reishi, an adaptogenic mushroom used to help boost the immune system and relieve stress, is up 60 percent in consumer interest year-over-year.

But what exactly are adaptogens, and why would anyone want to ingest them?

Manhattan-based nutritionist consultant Dawn Lerman describes adaptogens as “non-toxic herbs, roots, and fungi that work to increase the body’s natural ability to resist stress and restore the body to a normal balanced physiological state, thus boosting our energy, mood, and immunity." She says that at a molecular level "they regulate and balance the pituitary and adrenal glands, [which are] necessary for the way our bodies respond to stress.” More specifically, they include more familiar plants like ginseng, turmeric, and tulsi (holy basil), as well as some lesser-known specimens like astragalus, ashwagandha, maca root, mucuna, and mushrooms like reishi, chaga, and cordyceps. Lerman notes that consuming these plants can help to reduce stress and anxiety, increase immunity and mental clarity, balance hormones, and even provide boosts of energy and stamina.

A few years ago, adaptogenic supplements in the form of pills and powders (Moon Juice, anyone?) started popping up in health food stores, but over the last year the category has exploded. Now, it’s easy to find food and beverage brands trumpeting their added adaptogens, with the superfoods being incorporated into everything from granola and chocolate, to ice cream to juice.

“Snacks and drinks with marketed health benefits can often be an easy way to incorporate new health ingredients into everyday snacks and beverages,” says Lerman, who loves mushroom coffees and hot chocolates for their jitter-less energy boost. “Many of my clients have reported improved sleep, anxiety reduction, and an overall feeling of vitality.”

“In times of COVID-19, it is extremely important that we aren’t only taking supplements to boost our immunity but also adaptogens to regulate and strengthen our bodies,” says Davis.

Davisha Davis, spiritual herbalist and creator of Mojo & Honey, an online herbal apothecary specializing in immunity and anxiety/stress-related remedies, says that adaptogens can help manage daily stressors including anxiety, depression, and sleep issues. “In times of COVID-19, it is extremely important that we aren’t only taking supplements to boost our immunity but also adaptogens to regulate and strengthen our bodies,” says Davis.

But will you actually see results? Lerman attributes a large part of her father’s weight loss and survival of stage-three lung cancer to ingesting certain types of mushrooms. She says that when used in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle, adaptogens can start to have a positive impact within a couple weeks. But she cautions that quality is more important than quantity. “A high-concentration, full-spectrum extract is required to make the biggest impact on your body, but small amounts in products can also garner notable results,” she said. 

To give you a sense of the tasty adaptogen-packed edibles on the market right now, we've pulled together some of our favorite new snacks and beverages that could potentially help you relieve stress, increase immunity, and boost energy. 

Grace Han

Sacred Serve Gelato

Price: $80 for an 8-pack
Want to have your cake, er...gelato, and eat it too? Enter Sacred Serve, a vegan gelato company using a base of organic young coconut meat and low-glycemic coconut sugar packed with adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms and zero gums and artificial sweeteners. Even better? It tastes good! Flavors include Matcha Mint Chip with peppermint essential oil and cacao, Chaga Chocolate with chaga mushrooms and maca root, and Saffron Chai Spice with cardamom, rosewater, and Afghan saffron. They also come in cute Chinese-takeout-style 10-ounce containers, ensuring you can’t go overboard.

Grace Han

Lil Bucks Clusterbucks

Price: $18
Okay, let me get this out of the way: these are wildly addictive! Crunchy, chewy, and flavorful, they’re kind of like granola clusters, except they’re actually made from sprouted buckwheat. I can hear, the “huhs?” but hear me out: Like oats, they’re gluten free, and they’re actually a fruit seed (not a grain) that’s high in protein, fiber, and antioxidants. And, crucially, buckwheat has a much higher crunch quotient than oats, so for those who like maximum crispy content for sprinkling on yogurt, ice cream, or smoothies—or just eating straight out of the bag—these buckwheat-coconut-flaxseed-pumpkin-seed clusters will become your go-to. Notably, the superfood power isn’t coming only from the buckwheat. These raw and paleo-friendly clusters have some serious added adaptogen power. Choose from Chocolate Reishi and Turmeric Lemon Myrtle, which includes immunity boosting turmeric sourced from Diaspora Co. and lemon myrtle, an Australian shrub whose leaves contain the most concentrated source of antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory citral. A third flavor is launching soon: Matcha Cookie Crunch, with lion’s mane mushroom, which helps with brain clarity and memory as well as immunity and digestive health.

Grace Han

Sweet Reason Evening Blend Beverage

Price: $45 for a 6-pack
The CBD beverage category has exploded in the last year, but there's a good reason to try this new bedtime drink over others. Aside from 30mg of CBD, these bottles contain a powerful blend of herbs and adaptogens like ashwagandha, ginseng, l-theanine, and sceletium. Ashwagandha is said to ease stress and help as a sleep aid, ginseng helps with stress and improves cognition, l-theanine is an amino acid that boosts concentration, cognitive performance, and can improve moods, and sceletium also improves mood and cognitive function, while also helping to reduce stress. It's available in Plum Blush, Peach Jasmine, and Citrus Spice flavors, and designed to help you unwind in the evening and feel refreshed in the morning.

Grace Han

Enlightened Fruit Infusions Popsicles

Price: $6 for a 4-pack
This new line of refreshing vegan popsicles from the Keto-friendly and low-calorie ice cream brand Enlightened brings fresh fruit, 70-80 percent less sugar than other popsicles, and a slew of adaptogens to your mouth. There are four flavors, with each offering a different type of adaptogenic benefit. Strawberry + Chill bars have lavender, chamomile, and lemon balm, all of which boast calming and relaxing properties. To keep your digestive system intact, try Pineapple + Renew, which adds digestive aids dandelion root, turmeric, and ginger to the tropical flavor. For anti-inflammatory benefits, Watermelon + Soothe will do the trick thanks to turmeric, black pepper, and rosemary, while Coconut + Immunity has added Vitamin C and antioxidant-packed aloe vera, elderberry, and hibiscus.

Grace Han

Gr8nola Peanut Butter Granola

Price: $10
Former U.S. Olympic Trials swimmer Erica Liu Williams founded her healthy granola brand in Silicon Valley when she got her big break supplying Google in 2014. Earlier this year, Gr8nola launched its newest flavor, peanut butter, which is packed  with ashwagandha to help reduce stress and blood sugar levels, fight inflammation, and boost brain function. Other ingredients like chia seeds, organic coconut oil, whole grain oats, honey, and of course peanut butter, ensure this granola is as tasty as it is healthy. Best of all, the new flavor launches in partnership with Girl Up, a United Nations Foundation initiative uniting girls to change the world, with 8 percent of sales being donated to the organization.

Grace Han

Genius Matcha

Price: $30
The Genius Brand is known for selling nooptropic and adaptogenic supplements of all kinds. One of their few edibles, Genius Matcha, comes in powder form and is ready to mix with water to create a frothy matcha tea, with or without milk. To create it, they teamed up with registered dietician Rachael DeVaux of RachaelsGoodEats and combined organic ceremonial-grade matcha green tea powder with lion’s mane and cordyceps mushroom powders for an antioxidant-filled brain and mood booster. And don’t fret, the mushrooms aren’t noticeable at all; this tastes just like any other matcha drink.

Grace Han

Addictive Wellness Chocolate

Prices vary
If the idea of eating chocolate as a wellness tool sounds appealing, then these mini bars from Addictive Wellness are for you. This Los Angeles-based company uses ethically sourced raw, wild cacao that’s stone-ground to create a line of seven chocolates, each with different adaptogen add-ins. The square bars (each less than two ounces) come in Immunity, Energy, Beauty, Love, Focus, Tranquility, and Recharge, and feature adaptogens like cistanche (commonly known as desert ginseng), mucuna bean, ashwagandha, and cordyceps, lion’s mane, chaga, reishi, and tremella mushrooms. Plus, thanks to co-founder Sage Dammers’ training under master herbalists and longevity experts in Costa Rica, Australia, Bali, China, and America, the chocolates also make use of several herbs and plants commonly used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, including eucommia, rehmannia, tuber fleeceflower, and astragalus. 

Grace Han

ZYN Infused Beverages

Price: $44 for a variety pack
Pakistani-American brothers Asim and Qasim Khan left the finance world to start ZYN, a beverage brand that harnesses the power of turmeric root’s curcumin. It's an ingredient commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine, which the brothers grew up around, and has been shown to promote immunity, gut health, muscle recovery, inflammation support, and more. Each bottle contains 200 mg of curcumin, one of the highest concentrations on the market, as well as piperine, an extract from black pepper that increases our bodies’ ability to absorb curcumin by 2000 percent. The turmeric and piperine are sourced from sustainable farms in India and blended in solar powered facilities, which helped ZYN gain its certified B Corporation status. The drinks are available in four flavors (Pomegranate Cranberry, Lemon Ginger, Mixed Berry, and Mango Lychee) and are sweetened with stevia leaf extract, but the piperine also gives them a subtle peppery finish.

Grace Han

Nature Box Peanut Butter Maca Cookies

Price: $10
Maca, an adaptogenic Vitamin C-filled root native to South America, has been shown to provide a range of benefits including added energy and muscle strength, mood enhancement, and er, sexual stamina and heightened libido (we’ll let you experiment with that one). It already has a bit of a nutty flavor, which means it fits right into these mini peanut butter cookies. And unlike a lot of other adaptogen-packed "health" foods, these treats do contain wheat, dairy, and real sugar, which means you’re getting an actual cookie here, people.

Grace Han

Droplet Sparkling Beverage

Price: $20 for a 3-pack
Holistic nutritionist Celeste Perez teamed up with ice cream food scientist Adrienne Borlongan to create this sparkling drink loaded with adaptogens in three flavors: Pretty Balanced (white peach and lemon verbena with added moringa and ashwaghanda), Pretty Happy (passion fruit, cacao, and vanilla with rhodiola root), and Pretty Bright (yuzu and ginger with reishi mushroom). They also happen to be legitimately delicious, and make for a great alternative to the glut of assuredly-not good-for-you sodas out there. 

Grace Han

Numi Shroom Power Drinking Chocolate

Price: $13
Last year, beloved tea brand Numi dipped its toes into the hot chocolate category with four organic blends, including this one with chaga mushrooms mixed with fair trade cacao, coconut sugar, cinnamon, vanilla bean, and pink Himalayan sea salt. Chagas are packed with antioxidants that boost your immune system and fight inflammation, and the mushrooms have been shown to prevent and fight cancer. The paleo friendly adaptogenic chocolate powder can be mixed with hot water or milk, and creates a creamy, decadent drink.

Devorah Lev-Tov is a Thrillist contributor.
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