4 November, 2021

Maitake: The Dancing Mushroom

Maitake mushrooms are among the most popular and healthful fungi you can ever find. This mushroom has several names depending on the area. For example, in Japanese, “maitake” means dancing mushroom. In other places, you will find it called "Hen of the Wood", "Grifola frondosa" or "Sheep’s Head."

Typically, this mushroom thrives during fall, growing on the base of trees like elm, oak, and maple. You can mostly find them in China, Japan, and North America. Apart from China and Japan, this mushroom is popular across many nations in Asia as a medicinal plant.

Although the maitake mushroom is so prevalent in Asia and has existed for many years, it only became popular in the United States over the last two decades. People have started acknowledging the health benefits associated with the plant, it's longevity, and vitality.

Maitake has shown abilities to reduce LDL cholesterol levels by up to 34%, which can help prevent heart disease. What does this mean? It means that maitake is not only delicious but healthy too. This blog post will explore how you can incorporate them into your diet to boost immunity, weight loss, and protection from cancer-related side effects such as hair loss or nausea.

Since maitake mushrooms are very meaty and full of flavour, they can be added to almost any soup, stew, stir-fry, pasta dish, sandwich or burger just before cooking is finished for a burst of flavour. They pair well with many other foods such as garlic, rice, chervil, parsley, shallots, soy sauce, brussel sprouts, grapefruit, peppercorns, paprika, cumin, turmeric leeks, black beans, coriander, lime, peanut butter, pine nuts, cranberries and oranges.

It is recommended that you buy fresh maitake from your local grocer and use them within three days. Get your mushroom from a trusted mushroom vendor to prevent buying look-alikes of mushrooms or low-quality ones. Or rather, you can get maitake powder which is the best alternative to enjoy all the health benefits associated with the mushroom.

How do you know if they're good? Well, it is essential to have some background information on how to identify good mushrooms. Fresh maitake mushrooms have a slight fruity smell and will feel firm when pressed between your fingers. They should not have any brown spots or slimy surfaces. Don't be afraid of buying smaller ones because maitake become more tender as they age. If the stalk is still intact, it should be firm and white, avoid red stalks since that means they are starting to decompose.

Dried maitake should look like dried shiitake mushrooms, but the flavour will be less intense. This is sometimes confusing to check all that. But as we said, you can get maitake powder as an alternative and it should be from a renowned seller.

Maitake General Benefits

As aforementioned, Maitake mushrooms are not only delicious, but they have incredible health benefits. Maitake is one of the most potent medicinal mushrooms in existence, and it has been used for centuries to heal both physical ailments and emotional ones. Here are some general benefits associated with maitake;

Improve heart health

Maitake contains high amounts of potassium, niacin (vitamin B3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), calcium, zinc and iron vitamins A & C, which benefit heart health. For example, potassium is used to regulate blood pressure, heart rate and water balance in the body.

Additionally, niacin (vitamin B3) helps lower cholesterol levels, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) helps metabolise fats and proteins for energy use, making maitake suitable for diabetes or hypoglycaemia. Calcium is needed for strong bones and teeth, nerve transmission, muscle contraction and vasodilation (relaxing of blood vessels), zinc strengthens immunity by producing white blood cells that fight infection including heart related infections.

Maitake as a Natural Anti-Cancer Treatment

There are numerous ways maitake mushrooms can be used as a natural anti-cancer treatment. Still, it is hard to determine precisely how effective they are without conducting official studies both in the lab and on humans. This is because there have been so many recent breakthroughs in treating cancer with natural remedies that most governments ignore completely.

Even if you don't have cancer per se, adding these types of supplements to your daily regimen will undoubtedly strengthen your immune system and make it easier for you to fight off all kinds of infections and diseases, including those related to the gastrointestinal tract, such as irritable bowel syndrome IBS. So even though you may not have a full-blown case of cancer, you most certainly would want to stop its development before it starts.

Maitake as an Anti-Ageing Agent

Because maitake mushrooms contain potent anti-aging compounds such as the antioxidant beta-glucan, they help fight off free radicals, which can cause premature ageing and all kinds of health problems, including heart disease, inflammation and arthritis.

Maitake mushrooms provide all kinds of nutrients and healing properties naturally and healthily, which can even prevent ageing properties from developing in the first place. So be smart about what you eat, get out into nature, exercise regularly, get plenty of sun exposure without sunscreen on, sleep at least 8 hours per night, don't smoke or drink excessively, avoid toxic personal care products and have fun.

Maitake for Diabetes

Maitake is also an excellent food for people with diabetes. It is nutrient-rich and low in calories (about 90 calories per 3.5 ounce/100-gram serving) and fat. Therefore, it can play a crucial role in controlling diabetes.

Research shows that D-fraction may reduce blood sugar levels by stimulating insulin production and reducing glucose absorption from food. It is also suggested that this effect may be due to an increase of glucagon-like peptide -1 (GLP-1). The GLP-1 hormone stimulates insulin secretion from pancreatic beta cells and reduces the activity of glucagon-producing alpha cells, which in turn lowers blood glucose levels.

Maitake has a low glycemic index of 25, meaning it does not cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels after consumption. According to some studies, maitake lowers high cholesterol, reduces insulin secretion from pancreatic cells, enhances the body's ability to use glucose and may aid people with diabetes by stimulating insulin secretion from the pancreas.

Maitake for Weight Loss

Some studies suggest that maitake may help the body metabolise fat by stimulating leptin production, a hormone that helps regulate energy intake and expenditure. Maitake also contains protein-digesting enzymes called trypsin inhibitors which boost metabolism and aid in weight loss efforts.

The beta-glucans in maitake mushrooms stimulate white blood cells to produce heat while also preventing excess white blood cells. This makes the mushrooms an effective way to burn calories and helps to reduce obesity.

Maitake mushrooms are also known for their ability to increase basal metabolic rate, which means that your body will burn more calories while at rest. This activity is felt in the liver, where maitake increases glucokinase production. Glucokinase is an enzyme responsible for controlling blood sugar levels by regulating how much glucose needs to be stored in the liver when blood sugar levels are high after carbohydrate intake. Thus, maitake acts as a natural appetite suppressant.

Maitake for the Immune System

Some polysaccharides in maitake mushrooms provide the body with powerful antiviral and antibacterial benefits, which strengthen your immune system to fight off colds, influenza, Candida overgrowth, food poisoning and many other types of infections. It is also helpful for curing flu symptoms if you catch it early on before things get too serious. As always, though, you must build up your natural immunity, so you don't get sick in the first place.

Maitake D-fraction has an immunomodulatory effect on the immune system; it activates lymphocytes, stimulates the production of antibodies to pathogens, and triggers macrophage activity.

Maitake for Dogs

As mentioned earlier, the medicinal properties of maitake have existed for many years in Asia, and they are now available to help your dog with its health. Maitake contain active compounds that help fight cancer cells and stimulate the immune system, which can be very helpful when treating dogs with cancer or other illnesses. Add these fantastic mushrooms to your dog's food today and see the difference.

Medicinal properties from maitake have been used for over a thousand years in Asia, so it should come as no surprise that you can add this organic ingredient to your dog's daily meal.

There are active compounds in maitake mushrooms that fight cancer cells and stimulate the immune system, making it a powerful addition to an already strong group of ingredients in your dog's diet. These mushrooms are very easy to digest, so you don't have to worry about upsetting your puppy's stomach or digestive tract. Maitake may also reduce the chances of getting cancer, and they contain B vitamins and minerals like potassium, selenium and zinc, which can be equally effective for your pet.

Maitake Side Effects

There are no known side effects from taking maitake supplements or eating fresh mushrooms other than allergic reactions in susceptible individuals. The only thing you have to take care of is how much you take because some people can become addicted to it if they consume too many mushroom extracts over a long period. This could lead to malnutrition, so you must balance your supplement use with whole food sources.

In addition, those who have allergies should avoid this type of mushroom just as they would avoid any other kind of mushroom.

How to incorporate maitake into your diet?

Luckily for consumers, maitake has many different cooking applications that makes them easy to incorporate into diets. The most common way of eating maitake is by grilling or sautéing them with olive oil, salt and pepper. However, they can be preserved through pickling, drying, or freezing.

There are also many other ways people use maitake mushrooms besides taking supplements or cooking them into meals. For example, some people like to make tea with them, especially the powders that are easy to use. It is up to you to use these mushrooms best, but either way, they will improve your health and overall well-being.

Bottom Line

Have you ever tried maitake mushroom? If not, then you are missing a lot! These mushrooms are not only delicious, but they also have many health benefits. One of the most popular ways to eat them is by sautéing them with garlic and butter in a skillet or making tea from their powder.

As mentioned above, the maitake is an incredible substance that can help with cancer, diabetes, and obesity. If you are looking for a way to improve your health in the long term or need some relief from chronic pain, make sure to include this helpful fungus in your diet.

Be aware, though. Many mushroom supplements have been proven to be adulterated with the DNA from pigs, cows and even humans. That's why it is recommended you buy mushrooms from trusted sellers.

Further Reading

  1. Barreto, S.M., López, M.V. & Levin, L. Effect of culture parameters on the production of the edible mushroom Grifola frondosa (maitake) in tropical weathers.
  2. Hishida I, Nanba H, Kuroda H. Antitumor activity exhibited by orally administered extract from the fruit body of Grifola frondosa (maitake) Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo) 1988;36:1819–1827.
  3. Kodama, N., Kakuno, T. & Nanba, H. Stimulation of the natural immune system in normal mice by polysaccharide from maitake mushroom.
  4. Kodama N, Komuta K, Sakai N, Nanba H. Effects of D-Fraction, a polysaccharide from Grifola frondosa on tumor growth involve activation of NK cells. Biol Pharm Bull. 2002;25:1647–1650.
  5. Lull C., Wichers H. J., and Savelkoul H. F. J.. 2005. Antiinflammatory and immunomodulating properties of fungal metabolites. Mediators Inflamm. 2:63–80.
  6. Patel S, Goyal A. Recent developments in mushrooms as anti-cancer therapeutics: a review. 3. Biotech. 2012;2:1–15.
  7. Jui-Tung Chen, Kunihiko Tominaga, Yoshiaki Sato, Hideo Anzai, and Ryo Matsuoka.The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.Dec 2010.1295-1299.


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As lovers of mushrooms, we began as a small grower of oyster mushrooms in the Canberra and have now grown to producing a whole range of different mushroom products. 
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