Shiitake and Maitake mushrooms are highly nutritious and offer a wide range of health benefits.
Both have roots in Asia, with the ‘take’ part of their names meaning ‘mushroom’ in Japanese. ‘Shii’ in ‘Shiitake’ refers to the name of the tree on which the mushrooms naturally grow and ‘Maitake’ translates from Japanese as ‘dancing mushroom.’ It was given such a name because people would dance for joy upon finding the mushroom in the wild. Not only was Maitake a revered food and medicine, but worth its weight in silver!
While Shiitake and Maitake are very different mushrooms, there are many similarities in their benefits and uses. Here we’ll delve into their nutritional content and highlight some of the key health benefits of each medicinal mushroom.
Shiitake mushrooms have a classic mushroom shape, with a long stem and umbrella-like cap. They come in all sizes and usually grow as individual mushrooms on decaying trees. Shiitake mushrooms range from tan to dark brown in colour.
Maitake mushrooms grow wild at the base of oak trees in China, Japan and parts of North America. Unlike Shiitake, Maitake grows in a cluster or mass and looks a little like a bouquet of beige coloured mushrooms.
Both Shiitake and Maitake mushrooms contain a wide range of essential amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Compared to other medicinal mushrooms, they also have a higher polysaccharide and beta glucan content.
Shiitake mushrooms are slightly higher in calories and contain 15% more protein than Maitake. They also have a higher vitamin-B content, along with more calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc.
Maitake mushrooms are rich in Vitamin D, containing up to 70% more than Shiitake mushrooms. They also contain roughly 8% more dietary fibre and twice as much niacin.
The health benefits of Shiitake have been utilised in traditional Asian healing systems for centuries, as well as in Eastern Russia. In Ancient Chinese medicine, Shiitake is used to boost health and longevity, while also improving blood circulation.
Shiitake is also thought to have the potential to balance the immune system. Researchers at the Journal of the American College of Nutrition studied 52 health men and women, ages 21-41, who were given a daily Shiitake supplement. After 4 weeks, they noted increased immune system function, improved gut immunity and decreased inflammation.
Shiitake mushrooms have also been found to increase the number of B-cells (a key part of our immune systems) in a study by the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms.
In addition to boosting the immune system, Shiitake mushrooms also have other potential health benefits, which include:
Maitake has adaptogenic qualities, which means it helps the body to adapt to stress and protect it against related negative effects, like fatigue and insomnia. Adaptogens can also have a positive effect on energy levels.
A fantastic source of amino acids, B vitamins and minerals, Maitake offers a wealth of nutrition. But it’s ultimate power lies in its potent source of beta glucans. Found in both Maitake and Shiitake, as well as other medicinal mushrooms like Lion’s Mane, Reishi and Chaga, Beta-Glucans are a powerful type of carbohydrate that work to support the immune system and provide antioxidant qualities.
The effective structure of beta glucans in Maitake activates Macrophages (a type of white blood cells) in the body, which have the job of engulfing foreign particles like pathogens and tumour cells. Hence why medicinal mushrooms are often highlighted as a potential cancer treatment. Macrophages also activate components of the immune system like killer cells and cytotoxic T cells, known to kill cancer cells, cells that are infected (usually with viruses) and cells that have been damaged in various ways.
Other potential health benefits of Maitake mushrooms include:
Shiitake and Maitake mushrooms both have a plethora of wonderful health benefits alone but what happens when you combine them? Potentially...magic!
Researchers at the Annals of Translational Medicine confirmed that Shiitake and Maitake mushrooms are both immune-system boosters. However, when combined, their immune system balancing powers are even greater. Together, they stimulate the most active defence reactions.
So, it’s definitely worth taking both Shiitake and Maitake mushroom powders if you really want to give your immune system a boost!
Here at Mountainlife we offer a complete range of pure and genuine medicinal mushroom powders. They are vegan-friendly, GMO free and only contain 100% natural mushrooms - no fillers, binders or nasties of any sort!
Our powders are of revered Chinese Medicinal Quality. We remove the mushrooms from the fruiting body to harness all of the beneficial polysaccharides, beta glucans and phytonutrients, held within the cell walls.
In addition to our Shiitake Mushroom Powder and Maitake Mushroom Powder, we also have a Mushroom Complex 8 Powder. This contains 8 of the most potent medicinal mushrooms: chaga, lion’s mane, reishi, tremella, cordyceps militaris, oyster, shiitake and maitake; providing an easy way to maximise your intake of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
All of our mushroom powders can be added to hot water to create a traditional tea or enjoyed as part of a superfood smoothie. We recommend taking ½ tsp (2g) daily to really feel the benefits.
Our Shiitake and Maitake Mushroom powders are perfect for those wanting to boost their immune system. Additionally, Shiitake mushroom powder has fantastic skin benefits and Maitake is great for promoting a healthier gut. Whichever you choose, you’re sure to be impressed.
Alternatively, pick up a pouch of each to maximise the immune boosting potential or try one of the other fantastic medicinal mushroom powders from the Mountainlife range!
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