Have you heard about maitake mushrooms? Well, you’re about to learn everything there is to know about this healthy mushroom. From how to eat them to how to use them for their health benefits, maitake mushrooms may be just what you’ve been missing in your life. For better health and wellness, see how they can help you!
What is it?
Grifola frondosa is what they call maitake mushrooms by way of the scientific name. ‘Maitake’ is a Japanese word for ‘dancing mushroom.’ They started calling it this when people would find it in the wild and dance with happiness. It has an abundance of healing properties because it is an adaptogen.
Adaptogens are great to have in your daily intake when you want to help your body fight off mental or physical troubles. They regulate your body’s system and bring balance. You’ll be sure to find plenty of balance when you have maitake mushrooms which happen to taste great while providing medicinal benefits too.
While it has been used in China and Japan for centuries, it has only become more popular in the US recently, within the last 20 years. Maitake mushrooms are also called hen-of-the-woods mushrooms. Keep reading to find out how they can help with your health and longevity.
Where is it grown?
Maitake mushrooms grow at the base of trees. Oak trees are the most common ones they’ll grow upon, though you may see them with elm or maple trees too. You’ll see them growing in late summer on through early autumn. They grow natively in China, Europe, and North America. You can even cultivate them at home if you have a bit of a green thumb.
How does it taste?
If you have the pleasure of finding maitake mushrooms near you, you will love to cook with them. They exhibit a strong and earthy taste with peppery notes. Cooking them with savory and salty flavors brings out the best taste.
7 Health Benefits of Maitake Mushrooms
1. Assisting with the physical effects of stress
Just above, we mentioned how maitake mushrooms are adaptogens. As such, they can be helpful in reducing stress. While research is still being conducted on adaptogens and the ways they can help us, it can’t hurt to have another tasty way to relieve the symptoms that stress brings.
2. Supports better immunity
In Chinese and Japanese medicine, there is much evidence to show that maitake mushrooms help support immunity. In one study, mice that consumed maitake mushrooms as a supplement for 2 weeks had a major defense reaction stimulated. Maitake mushrooms have compounds that help increase white blood cell activity as well as production, so they could bolster your immunity.
3. May help with cancer treatment
As mentioned, these maitake mushrooms can increase your white blood cell activity. And that was what interested them in discovering how they could potentially use it to prevent cancer as well as treat it. Experiments show that fighter cells are stimulated and act in defense. It’s not an alternative to cancer or anything, but with more research, it could be beneficial down the road. If you currently have been diagnosed with cancer, you may want to ask your doctor whether or not you can or should try maitake mushrooms in conjunction with your treatments.
4. Excellent for brain health
It’s important to keep your brain sharp and healthy, and maitake mushrooms with all their antioxidants can help with brain and cognitive health. Since antioxidants can reduce oxidative stress, they can help with protecting your memory. Your brain uses up lots of oxygen. It relies so heavily on it to function well, putting it at far greater risk for oxidative stress. And in some cases, antioxidants may stop brain cell death and keep memory loss from happening. It can’t hurt to put some maitake mushrooms on your plate to boost your brain!
5. Help keep your heart healthy
Let’s talk a little more about those antioxidants in maitake mushrooms. They can help keep your heart healthy as well. Oxidative stress damages more than the brain. Reducing this exposure helps your whole body. With oxidative stress, chronic diseases and conditions tend to present. Maitake mushrooms feature copper in their nutritional profile, something that helps your heart. It has just enough to help your red blood cells produce, boost your immunity, and keep your heart rate and blood pressure healthy.
6. They’re quite nutritious
While eating mushrooms is good for you, you may want to try maitake mushrooms for better overall health and nutrition. They are rich in beta-glucans, antioxidants, copper, vitamins B and C, fiber, potassium, amino acids, and minerals. They’re low-calorie, fat-free, and cholesterol-free too, making them a wise choice to add to your meals.
7. They may help with weight loss
Studies of animals and humans have indicated that maitake mushrooms can help with weight loss. For the rats, those that ingested maitake powder lost weight after 18 weeks. Those in the control group gained weight. Meanwhile, for the humans, they took a tablet of 500 mg of maitake for 2 months with no change to their diets. All of them lost weight, on average 11 to 13 pounds.
Side Effects of Maitake Mushrooms
Maitake mushrooms are best when they are cooked. You may have a problem with them if they are older because they can be more troublesome to digest. Eating them raw is fine too, but it may affect your digestion.
For those with diabetes, you shouldn’t have maitake mushrooms in any form without first consulting your doctor. It could have an effect on blood sugar and may lower your blood pressure, especially if you have hypotension.
And if you’re going under the knife for any reason, don’t have any maitake mushroom 2 weeks before or after surgery. Pregnant, breastfeeding and those with autoimmune diseases should never use it without first speaking to their doctor.
Usage of Maitake Mushrooms
Fortunately, maitake mushrooms are easy to use. You can buy them whole and cook with them. They are excellent for stir-fries, in rice dishes, soups, and more. Fresh or dried, you will find many ways to make them in your kitchen.
And yes, you can freeze them. They keep quite well that way, so if you find a good amount, don’t be shy about stowing them there for use for months ahead.
Maitake mushrooms can also be purchased in powder form. You can then mix them into any beverage you like from your morning coffee or tea to your breakfast smoothie. They have an earthy taste, so if you’re not a mushroom maniac, you would probably be better off adding it with something that has plenty of flavors.
You can find maitake mushrooms in supplement form too. However, since supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA, you should make sure to look for a quality brand made in the USA that has transparent practices. See where the mushrooms are sourced and if any testing is conducted on toxicity before they are put into the supplements.
Mushroom Supplements with Maitake
You can find maitake supplements in many forms. There are liquid concentrates or capsules made with dry powders. Whichever option you look for, choose maitake D-fraction, an extract of the mushroom. Also, look for maitake mushroom supplements that are 100% extract without any fillers. You should never take any kind of supplement that doesn’t disclose proper ingredient information.
As for dosage, it depends on your weight, age, and overall health. Additionally, the strength of a certain brand may be different than others. You should consult your doctor to make sure maitake mushrooms are safe for you and find out what dosage they recommend.
Should you feel unusual or uncomfortable after ingesting maitake mushrooms in any form, you should stop using it immediately and talk to your doctor. Generally, it should take several weeks to feel a big difference from the maitake mushrooms. You may find that taking it with vitamin C helps though again, before you combine different supplements, ask your physician.
If you have more questions about maitake mushrooms, you’ll find the answers to them in this section.
Can you eat raw maitake mushrooms?
Yes, you can eat maitake mushrooms raw. It is safe, though it could upset your stomach. Young maitake mushrooms are very tender all the way through. You may find them more tolerable when you cook them. They have a lovely, almost spicy taste with a woodsy, earthy addition.
Can you get sick from maitake mushrooms?
For some, it may cause an upset stomach or nausea. Generally, if maitake mushrooms are cooked, they cause little trouble for most people.
Do maitake mushrooms help with weight loss?
Yes, maitake mushrooms can help with weight loss. In fact, we mentioned that above. They’re full of fiber so that could help you feel fuller for longer and keep you from snacking.
Can you freeze maitake mushrooms?
Absolutely! In fact, if you freeze maitake mushrooms, you’ll thank yourself later. It’s best to freeze them in a single layer first. Then you can put them into bags so they won’t stick together. If you buy a large number of maitake mushrooms, you can get the most out of them by using your freezer.
Are maitake mushrooms the same as hen of the woods?
Yes, maitake mushrooms and hen of the woods mushroom are the same. The only difference is location. The Japanese call it ‘maitake’ because to them, it resembles the dancing girls in kimonos, hence ‘dancing mushroom.’ But in North America, people see it more like a hen sitting atop a nest.
Now that you know more about maitake mushrooms and how they can help you, you can incorporate them into your cuisine or health routine. They’re pretty tasty for making all sorts of dishes. Try them in a stir fry, or make some fried rice with them. Even simply sauteing them with fresh herbs would make a lovely side dish for any meal.
You may find these mushrooms can help give your health the assistance it needs for matters of the heart, immunity, and brain function. Plus, if you’re trying to lose weight, maitake mushrooms have some pretty strong evidence supporting them in that arena. It can’t hurt to add them to your diet if you’re motivated to get your health and weight on track.
Of course, maitake mushrooms might not be for everyone. If you have certain health conditions, they could be problematic. That’s why before you stock up your freezer or buy a bunch of supplements, you should talk to your doctor about whether or not you can take them in your current health situation.
If you have no conflicting health issues, you may find that maitake mushrooms help give your health the big boost it needs in the right direction. Or you may simply find a new mushroom to enjoy with your favorite meals on any night of the week.