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Wood Ear Mushroom Benefits to Health

Sometimes called cat ear mushrooms or black fungus, wood ear mushrooms have a mild, earthy flavor that works well in all kinds of recipes. Not only are they delicious, but eating a wood ear mushroom benefits your health in many ways.

These unique mushrooms are full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are good for your heart, skin, liver, and much more. Keep reading to learn all about the health benefits of wood ear mushrooms, plus get some recipe ideas to try.

wood ear mushroom benefits

All About Wood Ear Mushrooms


Wood ear mushrooms are native to China, but they’re grown all over the world. They thrive especially well in temperate and subtropical areas with high humidity. The health benefits of wood ear mushrooms are well known in Asia, where they’re popular for cooking and eating.


They’re called “wood ear” mushrooms because they grow on wood, and they’re shaped like, you guessed it, an ear! The color and texture make these mushrooms look kind of like the insides of cat ears, which is why they’re sometimes called cat ear mushrooms.


They range in color from light to dark brown and get darker as they age. Mature mushrooms can look almost black, which is where they get their other name, black fungus.

In the wild, wood ear mushrooms grow on both living and dead tree trunks and branches. Farmers cultivate these mushrooms on logs, straw, or even sawdust. These mushrooms are sold to consumers in grocery stores, markets, and online retailers.

Wood Ear Mushroom Nutrition Facts

Muer Mushroom on white ceramic plate on grey background. Edible dark fungus - auricularia polytricha, also known as cloud ear, black mushroom, jelly fungus, Jew's ear mushroom. Defocused. Soft Blurry.

Wood ear mushrooms contain carbohydrates, fiber, selenium, and riboflavin. In addition, these mushrooms contain tons of other vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants like iron, thiamine, manganese, zinc, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, and magnesium, to name a few.

Like other varieties of mushrooms, wood ears are especially high in B vitamins. They’re low in fat and calories and incredibly nutrient dense.

Wood Ear Mushroom Benefits

Close up of dry black sliced mushroom on wooden background. Edible dark fungus - auricularia polytricha. Nobody

If you’ve ever wondered, “Are wood ear mushrooms good for you?” The answer is a resounding “Yes!” With so many important vitamins and nutrients, these mushrooms is beneficial to your health in many different ways.

For Your Skin, Nails, and Hair

Wood ear mushrooms contain biotin which is well known for promoting healthy skin, nails, and hair.

Biotin helps your body metabolize amino acids, carbohydrates, and fat. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. That protein makes your hair and nails strong and resistant to breakage.

The rich antioxidant compounds in these mushrooms protect your skin from harmful free radicals. They also help to reduce inflammation, giving your skin a more youthful appearance.

For Your Brain

Because they’re so rich in antioxidants, wood ear mushrooms are excellent for supporting brain health. Antioxidants like those in wood ears have been shown to protect the brain from degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The compounds in these mushrooms may also help to increase cognitive function, reduce brain fog, and improve focus. They’re a good source of copper as well. Copper is important for brain development and function. An adequate intake of copper supports learning and memory.

Gut Health

A healthy gut is the foundation of a healthy body.

Prebiotics in wood ear mushrooms feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut, keeping them healthy and thriving. Those good bacteria do much more than just digest food. They’re responsible for fighting off inflammation, supporting your immune system, and even supporting brain health.

That’s not to say digestion isn’t important. It certainly is! Since almost all of the nutrients our bodies take in go through our digestive systems, proper digestion is crucial to overall health and wellness.

The high fiber content of these mushrooms supports healthy bowel function and helps keep your digestive system running smoothly.

Liver Health

With anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, eating a wood ear mushroom benefits your liver by fighting non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Antioxidants are constantly working to reduce oxidative stress on the body. With help from antioxidants, your liver doesn’t have to work as hard.

Immune Boosting

The health benefits of wood ear mushrooms don’t stop there. They’re high in vitamins and minerals that support immune health, keeping your body functioning at its best. Antioxidant compounds like terpenes activate the immune system.

These mushrooms also have antimicrobial properties that can inhibit bacterial growth and help keep you from getting sick.

Healthy Heart

Wood ears are an excellent source of copper. They contain over 50% of your daily value in just one serving. Copper is essential for helping your body absorb iron.

Iron is used for the production of hemoglobin, which your blood needs in order to carry oxygen. Low levels of iron can result in anemia which stresses your heart and cause it to work harder than necessary to circulate oxygenated blood through your body.

The fiber in wood ear mushrooms may help lower your cholesterol as well. Healthy cholesterol levels are important for maintaining heart health.

These mushrooms are full of complex B vitamins that are vital for the growth and formation of cells. That makes them important not only for blood cells but for all the cells in your body.

Weight Loss

When part of a balanced diet, the health benefits of wood ear mushrooms may even help you lose weight.

The high fiber content in these mushrooms keeps you feeling fuller for longer, meaning you eat less.

They’re low in fat and calories while being high in many beneficial nutrients. You can add wood ear mushrooms to all kinds of recipes to give your meals a nutritional boost without adding a lot of extra calories.

Medicinal Uses for Wood Ear Mushrooms

Wood ear mushroom benefits include medicinal uses as well. These mushrooms have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to treat all kinds of ailments, including fevers, sore throats, and colds.

They’re used preventatively to boost circulation, maintain a healthy immune system, and improve overall well-being.

Many people still use these mushrooms medicinally today. With all the wood ear mushroom health benefits for your body, it makes perfect sense to use them to support better health.

Where to Get Wood Ear Mushrooms

Forest mushrooms - edible mushroom Auricularia auricula-judae (Latin for 'Judas's Ear'), known as the Jew's ear, (black) wood ear, jelly ear, pepeao

The benefits of wood ear mushrooms are so numerous you’re probably wondering how to get more of them into your diet!

Both fresh and dried wood ear mushrooms are available in stores. However, it’s most common to find them dried. Dried mushrooms are just as nutritious as fresh and often have a richer flavor.

Fresh mushrooms are easiest to find in countries like China, Japan, and Thailand, where they’re popular for cooking.

Here in the United States, it’s certainly possible to find fresh wood ear mushrooms, but they’re less widely available and often more expensive than dried options.

Dried wood ear mushrooms are easy to find in grocery stores, health food stores, and Asian markets. They’re also widely available online from places like Amazon.

Foraging for Mushrooms

If you live in an area where wood ear mushrooms grow naturally, you can find them by foraging.

It’s important to note that if you do go foraging for mushrooms, make sure you have a good understanding of how to recognize the different types and varieties. Some mushrooms are poisonous and not safe to eat. You shouldn’t go picking any mushrooms you see!

How to Add More Wood Ear Mushrooms to Your Diet

With all the great health benefits of wood ear mushrooms, it’s a good idea to eat more of them!

These tasty mushrooms work well in all kinds of recipes, from stir fries to sandwiches and everything in between. When raw, they have a rich umami flavor that’s deep and earthy. Once cooked, wood ear mushrooms take on the flavor of whatever they’re prepared with.

Cooking with Wood Ear Mushrooms

You can use them anywhere you would use other varieties of mushrooms or choose a recipe specifically designed for wood ear mushrooms.

They’re common in Asian dishes like this Chinese Wood Ear Mushroom Salad or this Pork and Wood Ear Mushroom Stir Fry.

Try them as a salad topping or a nutrient-rich addition to soups, stews, and sauces. Since they take on the flavor of whatever they’re cooked with, wood ear mushrooms make an easy, nutrient-rich addition to all kinds of recipes.

Perfect for Meatless Diets

Wood ear mushrooms are higher in protein than other types of mushrooms, so they’re an ideal choice for vegan and vegetarian dishes.

These Mu Shu Lettuce Cups use wood ear mushrooms along with almond butter and tofu for a balanced, protein-rich, meatless meal.

Enjoy These Wood Ear Mushroom Benefits

With so many benefits for your health, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy eating some tasty wood ear mushrooms. Which wood ear mushroom benefits stood out to you most?

To learn more about different kinds of mushrooms and what they can do for your body, be sure to visit the mushrooms page. There you’ll discover many unique varieties and learn how to use them. You might even find a new favorite!