Maitake Mushrooms Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Maitake mushroom

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Maitake (Grifola frondrosa) is a mushroom variety originating from Japan. You may also hear this mushroom referred to as "hen of the woods" due to its feathery appearance or hui-shu-hua in Chinese. Maitake mushrooms are consumed as a whole food, a food flavoring in powdered form, and dietary supplement since it is popularly considered to be a functional food.

Like other mushroom varieties, maitake mushrooms are low in calories, carbohydrates, and fat but provide several vitamins and minerals, notably ones that are less common in other types of plant foods, such as vitamin D.

Maitake Mushroom Nutrition Facts

One cup of diced raw maitake mushrooms (70g) contains 22 calories, 0.1g of fat, 4.9g of carbohydrates, and 1.4g of protein. Maitake are an excellent source of vitamin D, phosphorus, and potassium. The following nutrition information for one cup of raw, diced maitake mushrooms (70g) is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 22
  • Fat: 0.1g
  • Sodium: 0.7mg
  • Carbohydrates: 4.9g
  • Fiber: 1.9g
  • Sugars: 1.5g
  • Protein: 1.4g
  • Vitamin D: 20mg
  • Phosphorus: 52mg
  • Potassium: 143mg

Carbs

One 70 gram serving of maitake mushrooms contains 4.9 grams of carbohydrates. The same serving size of maitake mushrooms provides 1.9g of fiber and 1.4g of sugar.

For the serving size, this makes maitake mushrooms a high-fiber food. The fiber types provided by maitake mushrooms include β-glucans (beta-glucans), chitin, and heteropolysaccharides.

Fats

Maitake mushrooms contain little fat, with only 0.1 gram of fat per serving, none of which is saturated or trans fat.

Protein

Maitake mushrooms contain only 1.4 grams of protein in a 1-cup (70g) serving. Maitake mushrooms are not a complete protein source, meaning they lack some of the essential amino acids.

Vitamins and Minerals

As with other mushroom varieties, maitakes contain several vitamins and minerals. A 70-gram serving provides 20mg of vitamin D, 52mg of phosphorus, 0.5mg of zinc, 7mg of magnesium, and 143mg of potassium. They also contain several B vitamins, including 14.7mcg of folate. Maitakes are also an excellent source of plant-based choline (35mg).

Calories

A one-cup (70g) serving of maitake mushrooms contains 22 calories with 74% of those calories coming from carbohydrates, 21% from protein, and 5% from fat.

Summary

Maitake mushrooms are a nutrient-dense food low in calories, carbohydrates, and fat. Maitake mushrooms are a plant-based source of vitamin D, B vitamins, choline, and zinc, which are typically found more often in animal sources. They also provide other minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.

Health Benefits

Maitake mushrooms are a high-fiber, low-calorie food that makes an excellent addition to a nutritious diet.

May Improve Immune Function

Maitake mushrooms contain polysaccharides, including beta-glucan, which is a soluble fiber. Polysaccharides are long molecules of carbohydrates that impact the immune system. Soluble fiber provides digestive benefits which may facilitate healthy immune function.

Maitake mushrooms contain proteins and glycoproteins that may have a potential role in keeping the immune system functioning properly; they also have antioxidant abilities.

May Have Anti-Cancer Properties

Maitake mushrooms show potential for anti-cancer activity. Researchers have found that maitake extracts may slow tumor growth by activating immune cells that inhibit cancer cell growth—namely natural killer cells and T-cells. Beta-glucan contains something called D-fraction, which is also thought to have anti-tumor properties.

More research is necessary including the need for controlled clinical trials.

Improves Blood Sugar Levels

Research on animals suggests maitake mushrooms may reduce elevated blood glucose levels. An animal research study also found that the extract of maitake mushrooms demonstrated improvements in insulin resistance. When the body can no longer adequately respond to the blood sugar-regulating hormone insulin, insulin resistance is the result. Insulin resistance increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Provides Anti-Inflammatory Effects

The beta-glucans present in maitake mushrooms specifically has been studied for their anti-inflammatory effects. Mushrooms, in general, are considered an anti-inflammatory functional food. Inflammation is a complex response in the human body that works to counteract injury or harmful stimuli including pathogens, cell damage, and irritation.

Reduces All-Cause Mortality

Research on mushroom consumption, in general, shows that people who regularly consume mushrooms have a lower risk of all-cause mortality. Mushrooms, including maitakes, are high in several bioactive compounds such as antioxidants and glutathione which contribute to health. The study also found that consuming one serving of mushrooms (defined as 70g) per day as a replacement for 1-serving of processed or red meats (defined as 3.5 oz) was associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality.

Allergies

Allergies to mushrooms, including maitake mushrooms, are infrequent. If you have an allergy or sensitivity to mold, you may wish to avoid mushrooms.

Adverse Effects

Maitake mushrooms are generally a safe food to consume but if you take them in a supplement form, there is little research on the long-term effects. Some evidence suggests maitake mushroom extracts can interfere with some types of medication like blood sugar regulators or blood thinners (such as warfarin). Always speak with a health care professional if you plan to add a supplement, including maitake mushroom extract, to your routine.

When It's Best

Maitake mushrooms are available all year round, thanks to modern cultivation practices. However, they may be best in the fall, depending on where and how they are grown.

Storage and Food Safety

Store maitake mushrooms in the refrigerator for five days, ideally in a paper bag. They will likely be covered in some dirt, so wipe them thoroughly with a gentle abrasive cloth before eating. Mushrooms do not freeze well as this alters the water content and will make them soft when thawed.

How to Prepare

Maitake mushrooms can be prepared by roasting, sautéing, marinating, pickling, or eating raw. They can be added to soups, stews, salads, casseroles, kabobs, omelets, or any foods you would enjoy having an earthy, savory flavor enhancement. Due to their meaty texture, they can be used in veggie burgers or other plant-based meat alternatives.

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