Benefits of Maitake

Functional mushrooms have been consistently used in Eastern cultures for centuries and are now being more widely used than ever in the West by people looking for natural ways to improve their overall wellness. Maitake, a feathered, woody-flavored fungus found on the oak and other hardwood trees, is becoming more popular thanks to its bevy of benefits. 

It’s also a mushroom of many names. In addition to its scientific name Grifola frondosa, this mushroom is known by the nicknames “hen-of-the-woods,” dancing mushroom (thanks to the way it invigorates those who eat it), and king of the mushrooms — maitakes can grow to over 100 pounds.

Packed full of powerful antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, this mushroom is especially useful, especially among those seeking to improve their immune system function. Want to discover all the ways in which maitake mushrooms may work for you? Read our guide below!

Maitake’s Antioxidant Magic

Many of maitake’s health benefits come from its potent combination of antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins, minerals,  and beta-glucans. These compounds have been touted for their impressive array of abilities throughout the body. Antioxidants are revered for promoting heart health while also acting as an anti-aging aid and neuroprotectant. Foods containing antioxidants are in high demand and maitake is chock full of them.

Beta-glucans, a large molecule soluble fiber and type of polysaccharide, are well known for their array of positive health effects. A 2012 study indicated maitake-extracted beta-glucans (MBGs) could increase immune system performance. MBGs were shown to strengthen leukocytes (a type of white blood cell) and boost overall myeloid cell function in bone marrow transplants and certain cancer treatments.

Maitake’s Effects on Cholesterol and Type 2 Diabetes 

Hen-of-the-woods has also proven to be beneficial in maintaining heart health, an important distinction, especially in Western cultures. A Japanese study found maitake powder reduced cholesterol in mice while simultaneously increasing important energy-boosting fatty acids. It was theorized the extract was capable of strengthening the arteries. While the mushroom did not reduce triglycerides, the outcome was still intriguing.

Maitake has also shown promise as a potential treatment for type 2 diabetes. A 2001 case study revealed the mushroom helped maintain proper blood sugar levels and reduce insulin in a patient with the condition. In 2015, researchers discovered maitake was beneficial in regulating glucose levels in diabetic and hyperglycemic mice. While more research needs to be conducted, the results of both studies were indicators of the mushroom’s future role in diabetic treatments.

The Dancing Mushroom and You

Maitake mushrooms have been celebrated for centuries for their rejuvenating and immunity-boosting capabilities. They have also been touted for their positive benefits throughout the body and as a promising remedy for a variety of ailments. Packed with wellness-enhancing compounds like antioxidants and beta-glucans, maitake mushrooms offer quite the bang for your buck. Continued research into the Grifola frondosa fungus will certainly reveal even more exciting health uses.

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