4 Proven Health Benefits of Maitake Mushrooms | Organic Facts (2024)

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    by John Staughton (BASc, BFA)last updated -

    Maitake mushrooms may not be the first fungi you think to add to a dish. But this impressive mushroom has several powerful active ingredients and proven health benefits.

    What are Maitake Mushrooms?

    Maitake mushrooms (Grifola Frondosa) are found wild in China, Japan, and parts of North America. Colloquially, they are also called hen of the woods, sheep’s head, or dancing mushroom. The fungus has an underground tuber base and wide fronds of brown and gray wavy caps. They are known as an adaptogen, with a reputation for treating both physical and mental ailments and balancing the body. Maitake mushrooms are an important ingredient in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine, used for longevity and health. You can find maitake powdered extract in many health food stores, for a variety of treatments. [1]

    4 Proven Health Benefits of Maitake Mushrooms | Organic Facts (1)

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    Maitake mushrooms have an intense flavor and a meaty texture. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

    They are also a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine and can grow up to 50lbs on a single plant. While maitake can be grown at home, the peak season for foraging maitake is the fall season. They can be found growing at the bottom of oak, elm, and maple trees. They have a feathery, light texture, and an intense flavor much like morel mushrooms. They also naturally contain L-glutamate, a glutamic acid that produces the famous fifth umami flavor.

    Nutrition Facts

    Mushrooms, maitake, raw

    Serving Size :
    NutrientValue
    Water [g]90.37
    Energy 31
    Energy [kJ]130
    Protein [g]1.94
    Total lipid (fat) [g]0.19
    Ash [g]0.53
    Carbohydrate, by difference [g]6.97
    Fiber, total dietary [g]2.7
    Sugars, total including NLEA [g]2.07
    Glucose (dextrose) [g]1.74
    Lactose [g]0.33
    Calcium, Ca [mg]1
    Iron, Fe [mg]0.3
    Magnesium, Mg [mg]10
    Phosphorus, P [mg]74
    Potassium, K [mg]204
    Sodium, Na [mg]1
    Zinc, Zn [mg]0.75
    Copper, Cu [mg]0.25
    Manganese, Mn [mg]0.06
    Selenium, Se [µg]2.2
    Thiamin [mg]0.15
    Riboflavin [mg]0.24
    Niacin [mg]6.59
    Pantothenic acid [mg]0.27
    Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.06
    Folate, total [µg]21
    Folate, food [µg]21
    Folate, DFE [µg]21
    Choline, total [mg]51.1
    Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.01
    Vitamin D (D2 + D3), International Units [IU]1123
    Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]28.1
    Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) [µg]28.1
    Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.03
    16:0 [g]0.03
    Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.03
    18:1 [g]0.03
    Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.09
    18:2 [g]0.09
    Campesterol [mg]2
    Tryptophan [g]0.04
    Threonine [g]0.1
    Isoleucine [g]0.06
    Leucine [g]0.08
    Lysine [g]0.09
    Methionine [g]0.02
    Cystine [g]0.03
    Phenylalanine [g]0.06
    Tyrosine [g]0.07
    Valine [g]0.1
    Arginine [g]0.1
    Histidine [g]0.05
    Alanine [g]0.12
    Aspartic acid [g]0.21
    Glutamic acid [g]0.26
    Glycine [g]0.09
    Proline [g]0.06
    Serine [g]0.1
    Sources include : USDA [2]

    Maitake Mushroom Nutrition

    According to the USDA, one cup of raw maitake mushrooms contains 26 calories, with 4.8g carbs and 1.4g protein. These fungi are excellent sources of various nutrients that include: [3]

    • Niacin
    • Folate
    • Vitamin D
    • Potassium
    • Phosphorous

    Benefits of Maitake Mushrooms

    The health benefits of maitake mushrooms include their ability to treat infertility caused by PCOS, protect the immune system, and lower cholesterol levels.

    Immune System

    Because of their immunity-optimizing and anti-inflammatory properties, maitake extracts have been studied for potential benefits in regards to a wide range of conditions. The extract has also been explored as an aid intreatmentfor septic shock, asthma, and autoimmune joint inflammation. [4]

    Cholesterol

    Maitake extract has been shownto increase the production of fatty acids, which can increase energy and help keep arteries clean. In studies done on rats, maitake mushrooms also significantly lowered cholesterollevelsand have been shown to lower overall blood pressure.

    Diabetes

    Maitake may be a good addition to any diabetes regime. A paper that studied the effect of maitake mushroom extracts on mice found that it can effectively control glucose and insulin levels by enhancing peripheral insulin sensitivity. While further studies are required the determine its effectiveness on humans, the present research certainly makes it an option to be considered. [5]

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    Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

    Many women take maitake extract to treat infertility due to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) which also leads to insulin resistance. According to a research study by Dr. Chen JT et al., maitake extract helps improve insulin resistancelevelsand also stimulatesovulationin women with PCOS. Maitake may be an effective supplement when paired with traditional PCOS treatments. [6]

    How to Eat Maitake?

    Maitake mushrooms are available in several different forms. Fresh maitake mushrooms can be foraged in autumn months, or grown domestically. If you are buying it fresh, it is best to buy it whole for longer shelf life.You can add fresh maitake to Asian stir-fries and soups. Grilled maitake makes a delicious side dish to meat as they have a strong, earthy flavor. You can also be innovative and add it to omelets, pasta, and use it as a pizza topping.

    Dried whole maitake may be available at specialty stores, and can be used for cooking or as a tea. However, more commonly, most people choose to use either maitake powder or capsules, which are available at most health food stores.

    Word of Caution

    While some people have reported nausea or vomiting, overall there are very fewside effects linked to intake ofmaitake.

    • Check with your doctor before taking maitake if you are currently on any blood pressure or blood sugar medications.
    • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult their doctor before having maitake.
    • Stop taking maitake two weeks before any surgery, and discontinue use if you experience anything beyond mild side effects.
    • Check the concentrations of maitake supplements carefully.
    4 Proven Health Benefits of Maitake Mushrooms | Organic Facts (2024)
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