Maitake mushrooms have quite a reputation as a functional food and supplement. The name maitake is Japanese for dancing. After finding them, people joyously danced over the many health benefits of maitake mushrooms.
Though the research is ongoing, maitake mushrooms show better results in treating health conditions than other mushrooms. It’s worth trying out to see what all the happiness is about.
Read on to learn about the maitake mushroom benefits that will get you dancing!
Maitake Mushroom Nutritional Facts
The following stats are the nutrient numbers in 100 grams of maitake mushrooms:
- Calories: 31
- Protein: 1.9 g
- Sugars: 2.1 g
- Carbohydrates: 7 g
- Dietary fiber: 2.7 g
- Beta-glucans: 2.5 g
- Magnesium: 10 mg
- Potassium: 204 mg
- Phosphorus: 74 mg
- Copper: 0.3 mg
- Calcium: 1 mg
- Riboflavin (B2): 0.2 mg
- Niacin (B3): 6.6 mg
- Vitamin B6: 0.1 mg
- Vitamin D: 0.03 mg
Maitake Mushroom Benefits
Kills Cancer Cells
Researchers found that the D-fraction in maitake mushrooms fights cancerous cell growth and reproduction. These mushrooms’ beta-glucans destroy cancerous cells and increase the number of cells fighting against tumors.
Cancer patients usually take the D-fraction as a supplement because of its anticancer effects. This health benefit of these mushrooms was proven in a 2013 study, showing the supplement’s treatment and prevention of breast cancer.
It’s worth noting that in other studies, combining vitamin C with the D-fraction enhanced this maitake mushroom benefit.
Improves Immune Functions
Copper in maitake mushrooms supports immune function. Also, their beta-glucans boost proteins that improve immune responses and activate immunity cells like natural killer and T-cells. Besides cancer, the mushrooms fight against sickness, infection, and disease.
According to a 2014 in-vitro study, the mushrooms proved to stimulate immune response. Not only that, this benefit was enhanced when taken with shiitake mushrooms, which also have immunity-boosting benefits.
Boosts Heart Health
If your heart problems involve cholesterol and blood pressure, the health benefits of maitake mushrooms will keep them in line.
Once again, the beta-glucans display their multiple maitake mushroom benefits. They reduce the cholesterol absorption in your digestive tract and keep the arteries clear. Those and the mushrooms’ potassium help your heart pump blood easily and properly.
A 2013 study involving mice showed that a powdered extract of the mushrooms lowered the mice’s cholesterol levels. Also, the polysaccharides (or simple sugars) reduce bad cholesterol and produce good cholesterol with the help of Niacin.
Regarding blood pressure, the copper in these mushrooms, whether food, powder, or water extracts, helps lower it. An animal study showed that a maitake supplement reduced blood pressure by reducing age-related hypertension.
Out of all the maitake mushroom benefits, this one is a stress reliever.
The mushrooms have adaptogenic properties that protect you from physical and mental stressors. They even decrease the production of cortisol, a hormone that regulates your body’s stress responses.
Researchers found in their studies that these properties ease anxiety and depression symptoms and alter stress responses. In essence, they reduce the impact of stress so it’s not so hard on your immune system.
Balances Blood Glucose Levels
Besides reducing cholesterol absorption in the digestive tract, this maitake mushroom benefit includes reducing sugar absorption in the bloodstream. This helps stabilize blood glucose levels when eating these mushrooms as part of a balanced diet.
Researchers backed this in a 2015 study when feeding the mushrooms to rats. The mushrooms’ specific beta-glucan called SX-fraction is what lowers blood glucose levels. Better yet, it activates insulin receptors while reducing insulin resistance, lowering the risk of diabetes.
This mushroom benefit will serve hopeful mothers well. Some women go through polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)—an imbalance of reproductive hormones that forms small cysts in the ovaries. This condition contributes to infertility and lack of ovulation.
Luckily, the maitake mushrooms’ adaptogens do more than lessen your stress. They have a balancing effect on hormones, and they boost ovulation, enhancing fertility.
A small 2010 study in Japan demonstrated this health benefit of maitake mushrooms. Patients with PCOS were given a maitake mushroom extract; months later, 77% of the women were ovulating. The results were similar when combining the extract with another PCOS treatment.
Builds Healthy Bones
Maitake mushrooms are rich in vitamin D, especially when exposed to sunlight. They also have a sterol called ergosterol. It’s found on the cell membranes of fungi, playing a role in fungal growth and development.
Together, these nutrients help your body absorb calcium, strengthening your bones and preventing osteoporosis.
Another mineral in the mushrooms that plays a part in building healthy bones is phosphorus. It supports the formation of and maintains your bones and teeth.
In a 2007 in-vitro study, researchers wanted to prove that a maitake mushroom water extract would support bone formation. When testing it on two bone-synthesizing cell cultures, the results showed that the extract is effective in this area.
Fiber and riboflavin are definite maitake mushroom benefits for digestion.
The mushrooms’ beta-glucans and polysaccharides are forms of fiber that slicken the digestive tract to ease the digestive flow. And their riboflavin maintains the lining in the digestive tract, in which most of the immune system is located.
What’s important for proper digestion is beneficial bacteria breaking down our food. Studies show that the maitake mushrooms’ beta-glucans, as prebiotic fibers, improve the community of these good microorganisms in your gut.
Reduces Allergy Symptoms
Nobody likes dealing with runny noses, itchy eyes, and other allergy nightmares. This maitake mushroom benefit will make you forget about spending money on antihistamines and other over-the-counter allergy medication.
Ergosterol not only has the ability to help absorb calcium but also has anti-allergic effects. It inhibits your mast (or immune) cells’ inflammatory responses, like sneezing, itching, and congestion, when allergens enter your body.
In one study, researchers added a maitake mushroom extract to mast cells that were exposed to allergens. The result was the cells’ release of less histamine and lower levels of cytokines, meaning reduced allergy symptoms.
When to Avoid Maitake Mushrooms
Though these mushrooms help you curb your allergies, they can also be allergens. Some people with a sensitivity to maitake mushrooms who’ve been exposed to the spores reported having lung inflammation.
If you have a mold allergy or are sensitive to mold, maitake mushrooms may not be for you.
Allergies or none, you may have some conditions that won’t allow you to take in any maitake mushroom benefits. If you’re diabetic and have hypotension, the mushroom’s ability to lower blood pressure may harm instead of benefit you. So talk to your doctor first!
People with autoimmune diseases and bleeding disorders also need to speak to their doctor before ingesting these mushrooms. For pregnant and breastfeeding women, the data on the mushrooms’ safety is limited. To be on the safe side, they, too, should talk to their doctors.
Also, avoid ingesting maitake mushrooms if you’re having surgery in about two weeks. Though one of the maitake mushroom benefits is lowering blood sugar, controlling it after surgery becomes difficult.
Clashing with Meds
It goes without saying that mixing medications is dangerous. And there’s evidence that maitake mushroom extracts interfere with diabetes and blood pressure medications.
Regarding your health conditions, talk to your doctor before taking maitake mushroom supplements with other medications.
Eating Maitake Mushrooms
Before you enjoy the maitake mushroom benefits, rinse the mushrooms and dry them off with a paper towel. Then add them to entrées that usually include mushrooms, like stir-fries, pizzas, omelets, soups, and burgers. And with sides, they’re great in salads and kabobs or as side dishes themselves.
You may eat maitake mushrooms raw or cook them in a few ways. However, note that these mushrooms, if eaten raw, are digestible as long as they’re not too old. When you cook them, they become easily digestible if they are old.
Try sautéing them in butter and olive oil and eat them as a side dish. You could also fry them in butter or grill them, or perhaps roast, marinate, or pickle them. Maitake mushrooms are also great with seasonings like salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary, and thyme.
Eat them with an orange, orange juice, or a vitamin C supplement to enhance those maitake mushroom benefits!
You can also ingest the mushrooms as liquid concentrates or capsules. One example is the maitake D-fraction extract, which is, as mentioned above, for inhibiting cancer progression.
Another example supplement is the SX-fraction extract. Like the beta-glucan, this supplement is best for lowering blood glucose levels and blood pressure.
The dosage depends on age, weight, and health, as well as the strength of the particular supplement. You’ll want to consult with your doctor to decide on dosage and monitor any reactions you have to it.
Get Your Take on the Health Benefits of Maitake Mushrooms!
Though research is still being conducted on maitake mushroom benefits, the results are very promising. With the mushrooms’ many health benefits, it’s no wonder people happily danced over them. Have that same joy as you eat them; you’re nurturing your health!
Would you like to learn more about these super fungi? Visit our mushrooms page to discover other varieties and how to grow, prepare, and cook them.