Maitake Mushroom Health Benefits
The maitake, a mushroom native to East Asia, has long served as a nutritious food source and a staple in Japanese and Chinese cuisine. Its name means “dancing mushroom” in Japanese, but it is also known as the hen-of-the-woods in English.
Apart from being a nutritious and tasty addition to many meals, the maitake also contains numerous health benefits. Knowing these, and incorporating maitake into your diet, could prove to be one of the greatest and yet most accessible choices for your overall well-being.
Maitake Mushroom Benefits
The maitake’s benefits for our health are far-reaching and very diverse. This is because the mushroom is rich in nutrients and many complex chemical compounds that interact with our bodies in many ways.
Nutritionally, the mushroom is an excellent source of vitamins, including large amounts of vitamin B and C. It also contains copper, potassium, magnesium, and many essential minerals.
By also providing a lot of fiber and healthy amino acids, the maitake can contribute significantly to your diet in almost every way!
Yet, like most other edible mushrooms, it is very low in calories, sodium, and fats and contains essentially no cholesterol. This makes it a fantastic deal from a nutritional perspective – easy to add to any existing meal plan without harming your health or weight loss goals while at the same time offering you a whole host of micro and macronutrients!
Mushrooms like the maitake are also rich in complex compounds hardly found in large amounts in most meats and plant-based foods, such as beta-glucans, niacin, and phosphorus.
Maitake Health Benefits
But the maitake’s positive effects on our bodies go far beyond its nutritional qualities.
For example, the polysaccharides found in abundance in maitake mushrooms are not just good for our metabolism – they have also been shown to boost the immune system, support cardiovascular health, and promote a healthy gut.
Furthermore, some of the maitake’s many compounds are not just immunomodulating – they do not just increase our immune response overall – but in fact, encourage the production of leukocytes.
These are the white blood cells that form the body’s front line in defending against infections and diseases. In research, the higher leukocyte count prompted by regular maitake use has been shown to be effective not just against common ailments but even against tumors and certain types of cancer.
In medicine, applications have been found in using the maitake as a treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome due to its unique ability to heighten the metabolism and restore energy levels. Its immune-boosting powers have made it also effective in treating hepatitis and even HIV.
But the maitake’s above immune-boosting powers do not just apply to treatment either – research has borne out that it is equally effective as a preventative measure in guarding and protecting the body against infection in many ways.
Regularly complementing your diet with maitake mushrooms can even lower blood cholesterol levels. This indicator is linked to various cardiovascular health markers and issues, including arterial health, risk of heart disease or stroke, and more.
Particularly for people who usually rely on prescription medicine for chronic conditions, medicinal mushrooms like the maitake can provide a unique relief that provides all the benefits of traditional medication without the usual side effects.
Maitake Mushroom Benefits for Skin
Maitake, like most other edible mushrooms, contains a lot of ergosterol. This chemical compound converts into vitamin D2 when exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D and D2, in particular, are crucial in determining healthy skin quality and preventing a long list of skin diseases.
Because maitakes encourage healthy cell growth throughout the body, they help the body recycle and restore older skin cells, leading to a more youthful appearance.
The plentiful antioxidants found in maitake mushrooms further contribute to clearer, younger, and healthier skin, both in appearance and at the microscopic level.
By providing some anti-inflammatory agents, the maitake mushroom can also help prevent and treat skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, and dermatitis, as well as helping nicks, cuts, and wounds heal more quickly.
Maitake Mushroom for Weight Loss
Because the maitake boosts your metabolism, lowers cholesterol, and engages the gastrointestinal and cardiovascular systems healthily, it is an excellent supplement for weight loss.
If you enjoy working out, the maitake can also help you there. Increasing energy levels and improving stamina can allow you to run faster for longer and surpass your usual limits.
Maitake also has the unique ability to slow glucose absorption in the body. This happens by inhibiting an enzyme called alpha-glucosidase at the molecular level, which has been shown to be directly correlated with a healthier weight, and a lower risk of diabetes.
Maitake Mushroom Side Effects
Taking maitake mushroom supplements regularly should harbor no negative side effects for most people. However, a particular population segment may experience some discomfort or unpleasant symptoms stemming from maitake use. Allergies are possible but quite rare.
For example, maitake can lower blood pressure and lower blood sugar levels, as previously mentioned. This should come as a net positive for most; however, those on certain treatment plans for diabetes, such as blood thinners, should consult with their doctor before trying this mushroom supplement.
Also, note that while you can certainly eat maitakes raw, and their taste is considered one of the most delicate in the mushroom kingdom, they can go bad over time. When this happens naturally, the maitake becomes hard, chewy, and dry, losing much of its taste. However, proper cooking ensures that maitakes can be enjoyed for much longer.
Also, as a general disclaimer, you should always consult with your physician before starting an adaptogenic supplement such as maitake mushrooms if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or suffer from any kind of autoimmune disorder.
There is no absolute standardized dosage for maitake mushrooms. In traditional Eastern cuisine, between half a cup (120 mg) and a whole cup (240 mg) of raw mushroom is considered a single serving.
In applications such as dietary supplements, precise numbers vary, though they usually fall somewhere into the above range.
When deciding how to add maitakes to your diet, there are a few considerations to make. You can incorporate these mushrooms easily into your existing meals, either raw or cooked.
You could also try to make a homemade mushroom tea by steeping maitake in boiling water and tea leaves, making an infusion. There are also maitake powders available for ease of use, in addition to ready-made mushroom tea and even coffee.
With all these, the dosage, and the precision with which you will be able to maintain and check that dosage, will vary. Capsules are probably your best bet if you want to stay very precise with the amount of maitake you consume. If your health conditions prevent you from going above a certain daily, weekly, or monthly limit, these would probably be the best option.
Powders can also be used to great effect in this way. However, they are a tiny bit less user-friendly, as you will need to measure the volume of powder very consistently each time, and small variations can sometimes add up to big differences in your bodily response.
Measuring raw mushrooms by weight is arguably the most traditional method and often the most cost-effective. However, it is also the least precise by far.