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maitake mushrooms

Maitake (Grifola frondosa)

Primary benefits: Supports immunity, fights cancer, and regulates blood sugar.

In Japanese, “maitake” means “dancing mushroom.” Some say this is because people danced with joy when they found it. In North America, maitake is also known as hen of the woods.

Like lion’s mane, maitake is both medicinal and culinary. While it’s not uncommon to find maitake growing in the wild, it is one of the most frequently farmed fungi, much like button, shiitake, and oyster mushrooms.

Maitake’s medicinal heft comes from the volume and diversity of its beta-glucans. These include a subset with promising antitumor effects, as well as another subset shown to enhance insulin resistance.

Most research has been done in test tubes or on animals, so the medicinal ­effects of maitake are still not as well understood as those of other medicinal mushrooms. But preliminary findings point to maitake as a powerful immune and insulin regulator.image of maitake mushroom

Bresett uses maitake for immune support as well as complementary support for metabolic health.

How to use maitake:

As a supplement, experts generally recom­mend 1 to 6 grams of dried powder daily, or two to three dropperfuls of tincture once or twice a day. (Keep these five things in mind when you’re shopping.)

Fresh maitake plays well in soups and stir-fries. Mason Bresett, ND, whose research focuses on functional mushrooms, likes it in pasta dishes as well as on its own, sautéed with butter and finished with a dash of vinegar.

(Try maitake in the Lemon-Garlic Farro With Roasted Vegetables recipe that appears at “3 Immune-Supportive Recipes.”).

More on Mushrooms

Fungi have been used as medicine for thousands of years. Discover five more varieties and their many health benefits at “The Health Benefits of Medicinal Mushrooms,” from which this article was excerpted.

Catherine Guthrie

Catherine Guthrie is an Experience Life contributing editor.

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