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Discover the Ancient Powers of Shiitake and Maitake Mushrooms

4 min read time Sep 17, 2020


Mushrooms are widely-researched and have long been a staple for

The most important civilizations in history

Not just because of their great taste and easy cooking options, but mushrooms have also been enjoyed for their medicinal properties.

  • Chinese and Japanese cultures have long been using mushrooms to improve their quality of life
  • Ancient Greeks believed that mushrooms provided strength for their warriors. (Valverde)

Today, mushrooms are a popular natural health food because they are low in calories, low in carbohydrates, low fat, and low in sodium. (Valverde)

There are more than 2,000 edible species of mushrooms with medicinal qualities. Many of these are widely consumed and heavily researched for their health-promoting traits. (Friedman)

With a long history as a food source, mushrooms are important foods in traditional medicine.  
-- International Journal of Microbiology (Valverde)

Filled with a variety of the important macronutrients: protein, fat, carbohydrate and even fiber (Mushroom Polysaccharides), mushrooms are also jam-packed with minerals and micronutrients, such as:

  • selenium
  • potassium
  • riboflavin
  • niacin, and
  • vitamin D.  (Valverde)

Additionally, nutrients produced by the mushrooms are associated with bioactive compounds, including polysaccharides. (Friedman) Polysaccharides are carbohydrates providing an important energy source.

In fact, researchers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture have found that polysaccharides in mushrooms have unique traits which may support a healthy metabolism, blood sugar levels and immune system response. They also have health-promoting potentials including anti-oxidative and the ability to support a healthy inflammation response. (Friedman)

  • Researchers at the Antioxidants of Edible Mushrooms journal found that edible mushrooms enhance antioxidant defenses reducing oxidative stress. (Kozarski).  
  • Dietary mushrooms may have also even been shown to support healthy blood pressure increases. (Kabir)

Which Mushroom is Best?

That’s easy.

There are two mushrooms, in particular, that stand out in history as nutrient-dense, medicinal superstars:

  1. Shiitake
  2. Maitake

Benefits of the Shiitake and Maitake Mushrooms

Shiitake is a medicinal mushroom with a long traditional use in Asia. (Gaullier) 

Dating back 6000 years, Shiitake gained prominence during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644).  Like many mushrooms, shiitake also provides a valuable dose of sun-soaked Vitamin D and is a natural source of protein, while supplying niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, potassium and iron, and healthy amounts of vitamins A, B and C.

Shiitake for your immune system?

Many people swear by shiitake's ability to balance the immune-system. But what does the research say?

A team of researchers at the Journal of the American College of Nutrition studied 52 healthy men and women (ages 21-41) who supplemented daily with shiitake. After four weeks the researchers found the group realized increased immune system function, better gut immunity and decreased inflammation. (Dai)

In another study done by researchers at the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, they found that shiitake is not only safe to eat but it may even be an important natural food source to support one’s immune system defences:

Shiitake mushrooms increased the number of B-cells in a group of older adults 

   -- International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms (Gaullier)

This is great news as B-cells are literally the building blocks of our immune system!

The other nourishing powerhouse is the Maitake mushroom.

Maitake has been enjoyed for at least 3,000 years.  Traditionally, maitake has been used as a tonic and an adaptogen for wellness and vitality.  And Maitake is so powerful that Japan has nicknamed it:

“King of Mushroom”

A natural source of minerals potassium, calcium and magnesium, Maitake is packed with B vitamins and amino acids -- offering a wealth of nutrition.

But the real shining star found within the Maitake mushroom may be its source of glucans.

Beta-glucans are a powerful compound found in both Maitake and Shiitake. In fact, these are among the most studied of all glucans.  Beta-glucans are a unique type of carbohydrate (Friedman) which support the immune system.

It is mushroom-derived glucans that American, English and Japanese researchers found to be one of the active compounds for modulating the immune system. (Vetvicka)

Shiitake and Maitake make the Ultimate Combo

But when you combine these two mushrooms, it gets even better.

Researchers at the Annals of Translational Medicine found that when eaten alone, Shiitake or Maitake can be immune-system boosters.  (Vetvicka) But when combined…

These two powerhouses make mushroom-magic!

The researchers report…

  1. We found significant immune system balancing powers.
  2. In all cases, the most active defense reactions was caused by the Maitake-Shiitake combination
  3. Maitake eaten alone was the second strongest, followed by Shiitake. (Vetvicka)

[Recipe] Enjoy homemade Mushroom Sauce on your Favorite Foods

So, what’s the best way to get a healthy dose of shiitake and maitake mushroom into your diet?

That’s even easier.

Using our two best-selling, organic, natural mushroom powders (Shiitake and Maitake), our kitchen made the world’s easiest, best-tasting Shiitake and Maitake Mushroom sauce for you to make and enjoy at home.

After a few whisks, a couple stirs and about 20-minutes on low heat, you’ll have the most delicious mushroom sauce  -- packed with all the powerful nutrition these two mushrooms have to offer.

For Bulk inquiries and custom formulations click here: https://www.znaturalfoods.com/pages/bulk


“B-Lymphocytes - National Library of Medicine - PubMed Health.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0022043/.

Dai, X, et al. “Consuming Lentinula Edodes (Shiitake) Mushrooms Daily Improves Human Immunity: A Randomized Dietary Intervention in Healthy Young Adults.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition., U.S. National Library of Medicine, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25866155.

Friedman, Mendel. “Mushroom Polysaccharides: Chemistry and Antiobesity, Antidiabetes, Anticancer, and Antibiotic Properties in Cells, Rodents, and Humans.” Foods, MDPI, Dec. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5302426/.

Gaullier, J M, et al. “Supplementation with a Soluble ß-Glucan Exported from Shiitake Medicinal Mushroom, Lentinus Edodes (Berk.) Singer Mycelium: a Crossover, Placebo-Controlled Study in Healthy Elderly.” International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms., U.S. National Library of Medicine, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22164761/.

Kabir, Y, et al. “Effect of Shiitake (Lentinus Edodes) and Maitake (Grifola Frondosa) Mushrooms on Blood Pressure and Plasma Lipids of Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats.”Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 1987, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3443885.

Kozarski, M, et al. “Antioxidants of Edible Mushrooms.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland)., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 27 Oct. 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26516828.

Valverde, María Elena, et al. “Edible Mushrooms: Improving Human Health and Promoting Quality Life.” International Journal of Microbiology, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4320875/.

Vetvicka, Vaclav, and Jana Vetvickova. “Immune-Enhancing Effects of Maitake (Grifola Frondosa) and Shiitake (Lentinula Edodes) Extracts.” Annals of Translational Medicine, AME Publishing Company, Feb. 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4202470/.

Wesa, Kathleen M., et al. “Maitake Mushroom Extract in Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS): a Phase II Study.” Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy, Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4317517/.

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