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What Are Maitake Mushrooms?

Maitake mushrooms are a species of edible fungi that are native to China but are also produced in Japan and North America. They are often referred to as hen of the woods or Grifola frondosa. They have earned the moniker "king of the mushrooms" because they are frequently discovered in bunches near the base of maple, oak, or elm trees and can reach weights of over 100 pounds.

The maitake mushroom has a long tradition of use in both cooking and medicine. Its Japanese name, which translates to "dancing mushroom," is where the word "maitake" originates. People are supposed to have danced for pleasure when they first discovered the mushroom because of its strong healing properties.

This healthy meal has a distinctive, frilly appearance, a delicate texture, and an earthy flavor that blends nicely in a variety of cuisines, including burgers, stir-fries, and more. Similar to oyster and shiitake mushrooms, grifola frondosa is frequently regarded as a staple in Japanese cuisine but has recently grown in popularity all over the world.

Not only that, but these medicinal mushrooms have also been linked to a wide range of health advantages, from lowering cholesterol levels to controlling blood sugar. They are also regarded as adaptogens because of the potent qualities they possess that can assist the body naturally mend and balance itself to advance better health.


1. Balances Blood Sugar

Maintaining high blood sugar levels might have detrimental effects on your overall health. Diabetes can arise from elevated blood sugar, but it can also have unfavorable symptoms like headaches, increased thirst, blurred eyesight, and weight loss.

Long-term complications from diabetes symptoms can include nerve damage and renal issues.

Maitake mushrooms, when included in a balanced, healthy diet, may help control blood sugar levels to prevent these uncomfortable symptoms. Grifola frondosa was administered to diabetic rats in one animal study by the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at Nishikyushu University's College of Home Economics in Japan, and the results showed an improvement in glucose tolerance and blood glucose levels.

Similar results were reported by another animal study, which found that in diabetic mice, the fruit of the maitake mushroom had potent anti-diabetic characteristics.

2. May Kill Cancer Cells

Several encouraging studies have looked into the potential link between the maitake mushroom and cancer in recent years. Maitake grifola may have potent anti-cancer capabilities, making the fungus a valuable supplement to any diet, even though research is still restricted to in vitro and animal models.

Using a mouse model, it was demonstrated in the International Journal of Cancer that giving mice an extract made from the Grifola frondosa successfully inhibited tumor growth.

Similar to this, an in vitro investigation conducted in 2013 revealed that maitake mushroom extract may be helpful in reducing the proliferation of breast cancer cells.

Maitake MushroomMaitake Mushroom

3. Lowers Cholesterol Levels

When it comes to preserving a healthy heart, controlling your cholesterol levels is vitally necessary. The arteries may thicken and narrow as a result of cholesterol buildup, obstructing blood flow and making your heart work harder to circulate blood throughout your body.Maitake mushrooms may assist in naturally lowering cholesterol levels to maintain the health of your heart, according to some studies, though additional research is necessary. For instance, a study in an animal model indicated that supplementing mice with maitake mushrooms effectively lowered their cholesterol levels (Journal of Oleo Science).

4. Boosts Immune Function

Your immune system's health is essential to general wellbeing. It serves as your body's natural defensive mechanism and aids in fending off invaders to shield it from harm and infection.In addition to numerous health advantages, beta glucan, a polymer found in fungi, is present in maitake.A serving or two of Grifola frondosa per day could help strengthen your immune system and prevent illness. According to an in vitro study that was published in the Annals of Translational Medicine, shiitake and maitake mushrooms together were even more effective at triggering an immune response.A short-term oral application of naturally occurring immunomodulating glucans from Maitake and Shiitake mushrooms actually greatly boosted both the cellular and humoral branch of immunological reactions, according to the study's authors from the University of Louisville's Department of Pathology.

5. Promotes Fertility

PCOS, also known as polycystic ovarian syndrome, is a condition in which the ovaries produce too many male hormones, leading to tiny cysts on the ovaries and symptoms include acne, weight gain, and infertility.According to some research, maitake mushrooms may be effective in treating PCOS and other common problems including infertility. For instance, a 2010 study at the Department of Gynecology of the J.T. Chen Clinic in Tokyo discovered that maitake extract was almost as successful as some of the traditional drugs used to treat PCOS at inducing ovulation in 77 percent of subjects.

6. Reduces Blood Pressure

An astounding 34 percent of adults in the United States are thought to have high blood pressure, making it one of the most widespread medical conditions. It happens when the blood is forced through the arteries with too much force, which weakens the heart muscle and causes the condition.Consuming maitake regularly can lower blood pressure and help prevent the signs and symptoms of high blood pressure. According to an animal study cited in the International Journal of Medical Sciences, giving rats a Grifola frondosa extract helped reduce age-related hypertension.Similar results were obtained from a second animal study conducted by the Department of Food Chemistry at Tohoku University in Japan, which found that feeding rats maitake mushrooms for eight weeks reduced blood pressure, triglyceride levels, and cholesterol.

Nutrition Facts

Maitake mushrooms are low in calories but contain a small chunk of protein and fiber, plus B vitamins, such as niacin and riboflavin, and beneficial beta glucan, which has immune-boosting effects.

One cup (about 70 grams) of maitake mushrooms contains approximately:

  • 22 calories
  • 4.9 grams carbohydrates
  • 1.4 grams protein
  • 0.1 gram fat
  • 1.9 grams dietary fiber
  • 4.6 milligrams niacin (23 percent DV)
  • 0.2 milligram riboflavin (10 percent DV)
  • 0.2 milligram copper (9 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligram thiamine (7 percent DV)
  • 20.3 micrograms folate (5 percent DV)
  • 51.8 milligrams phosphorus (5 percent DV)
  • 143 milligrams potassium (4 percent DV)

Maitake grifola also has trace amounts of zinc, manganese, selenium, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6, in addition to the elements mentioned above.

Maitake vs. Other Mushrooms

Shiitake and reishi mushrooms are both highly prized for their tremendous health-promoting characteristics, much like maitake mushrooms. For instance, research on the reishi mushroom has shown that it can treat cancer and lower cardiovascular risk factors like high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol.Shiitake mushrooms, on the other hand, are regarded as having anti-obesity, immune-supportive, and anti-inflammatory properties.Shiitake and maitake mushrooms are more frequently utilized in cooking while reishi mushrooms are typically seen in supplement form.

Maitake MushroomMaitake Mushroom

How to Use

Grifola frondosa grows near the base of oak, maple, and elm trees and is in bloom from late August to early November. Always carefully wash them off before eating, and make sure to choose those that are young and firm.

If you're new to mushroom hunting and are wondering where to obtain maitake, you might need to look outside of your neighborhood supermarket. Your best options for finding these delicious mushrooms are specialty shops or online merchants. Several pharmacies and health food stores sell maitake D fraction extract as a supplement.

Naturally, it's important to carefully read the label to avoid getting confused with Grifola frondosa imitators like Laetiporus sulphureus, often known as chicken of the woods mushroom. Although the names and appearance of these two mushrooms are identical, there are several variances in taste and texture.

Strong and earthy are common adjectives used to characterize maitake flavor. These mushrooms can be used in a variety of cuisines, including pasta dishes, noodle bowls, and hamburgers.

For a quick yet delectable side dish, some people also like to roast them till crisp with a tiny bit of grass-fed butter and pepper. Maitake mushrooms can be stuffed, sautéed, or even steeped in tea, just like other mushroom species like cremini mushrooms.

There are many methods to begin taking advantage of these wonderful mushrooms' health advantages. They can be substituted in almost any recipe that asks for mushrooms or added to both main dishes and sides.

Risks and Side Effects

The majority of people can safely consume maitake mushrooms with little chance of negative side effects. Yet, some people who ate maitake mushrooms said they experienced adverse reactions.If you have any food allergy symptoms after consuming Grifola frondosa, such as hives, swelling, or redness, stop using it right once and see your doctor.It is best to talk with your doctor before consuming maitake mushrooms if you are taking medication to control your blood sugar, blood pressure, or cholesterol levels to prevent interactions or negative effects.Also, since the effects of maitake mushrooms, particularly maitake D fraction drops, have not yet been researched in these populations, it is advised to be safe and limit your intake if you are pregnant or nursing.


  • A form of edible fungus called Grifola frondosa is frequently cultivated in China, Japan, and North America.
  • Maitake mushrooms, which are well-known for their therapeutic benefits, have been found to support fertility, improve immunological health, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and balance blood sugar levels. They might possibly be anti-cancer in nature.
  • Although it has little calories, grifola frondosa is a good source of protein, fiber, niacin, and riboflavin. The taste of maitake is regarded as powerful and earthy.
  • Maitakes are available at your neighborhood food store. as well as supplement shops online. There are several maitake dish options available offering distinctive ways to employ this nutrient-dense fungus. They can be stuffed, sautĂ©ed, or roasted.