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What are Maitake mushrooms?
Maitake mushrooms, also called hen-of-the-woods, are a popular delicacy in Japan, with their name even translating to “dancing mushroom” in English However, they shouldn’t be confused with other similar-sounding mushrooms like Chicken of the Woods and shiitakes. While they may taste great when harvested at a juvenile age, these mushrooms quickly become too tough for consumption once their size increases, making them better suited for their medicinal purposes.
The medicinal properties of maitakes have been known and studied for centuries by different cultures around the world, where fresh or dried samples were used for various treatments ranging from low immunity problems to cancer in cases where more conventional medical treatments seemed ineffective enough. Besides that, it has been recently discovered that this type of mushroom is packed with lots of natural fibers and proteins that can help improve our digestion while providing very few calories.
What are the benefits of Maitake mushrooms?
Maitake mushrooms have long been used in traditional Eastern medicine because of their health benefits. They are a rich source of bioactive polysaccharides, especially D-fraction, MD-fraction, and SX-fraction, which have powerful immunoprotective and antitumor properties. In addition to these benefits, maitake can provide several other health benefits thanks to its active compounds. For instance, beta-glucans found in maitake can help reduce cholesterol levels in the body and improve artery functionality for better cardiovascular health, thus lowering the chances of developing heart disease. The polysaccharides found in maitake also help regulate cholesterol levels by reducing bad LDL cholesterol without affecting triglyceride or good HDL cholesterol levels. This helps maintain healthy lipid profiles and reduces the risk of certain cardiovascular diseases. Furthermore, maitake mushrooms may also help improve digestive health due to their prebiotic activity, which supports beneficial gut bacteria. These range of beneficial effects make maitake an abundant source of nutrition and an excellent ingredient to incorporate into any diet.