By Geary Andrew
Maitake mushrooms have been used as both food and medicine in Asian cultures for many centuries, and are described as having a rich, earthy taste. The name maitake means “dancing mushroom” in Japanese. They are most common in the Northeastern areas of the United States and Canada. They also exist in hardwood forests in parts of Japan, China, and Europe. In North America, fresh and dried maitake mushrooms are available at some grocery stores and markets, and the extract maitake D-fraction is sold as a dietary supplement.
Maitake nutritional values
-377 Calories per 100 grams dry weight
-3-4% Fats (1 percent polyunsaturated fat; 2 percent total unsaturated fat; 0.3 percent saturated fat)
-60% Carbohydrates (41 percent are complex carbohydrates)
-B Vitamins (mg/100 g)
-Riboflavin (2.6 mg)
-Pantheonic acid (4.4 mg)
-High concentration of potassium: 2,300 mg/100g
Unique health benefits of the maitake mushroom
Many studies are suggesting that maitake mushrooms may protect you against various cancers, with one key compound gaining most of the attention. Known as D-Fraction, this polysaccharide has the ability to enhance certain immune system cells, such as macrophages, helper T cells, and cytotoxic T cells, which all work together to attack tumor cells.
Maitake may help manage blood sugar levels and prevent diabetes. According to study a polysaccharide molecule in maitake, called MT-alpha-glucan, decreased fasting blood sugar and insulin levels and increased levels of glycogen, a short-term storage form of glucose, in the liver. Maitake also increased the ability of insulin to bind to liver cells and improved pancreatic function. Researchers concluded that maitake may be useful for prevention and management of diabetes by decreasing insulin resistance.
Study of the New York Academy of Science found that maitake D-fraction boosted the immune systems of mice injected with liver cancer calls, and the 1997 study mentioned above found that maitake D-fraction enhanced immune function in mice implanted with breast cancer. Further, a study published in the Summer 2004 issue of the Journal of Medicinal Food found that maitake D-fraction activated immune cells and might help fight infection.
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