Maitake Vs. Shiitake Mushrooms: Comparing the Health Benefits

As mushroom species, shiitake and maitake have many things in common. Both have the distinction of being valued as culinary mushrooms. In addition, they have been used in traditional medicine in Asia for hundreds of years. These fungi provide nutrients as well as bioactive compounds that support a variety of health and wellness goals. For this reason they are considered functional mushrooms Super Foods.

One of their most unique features is the ability to support our body’s ability to neutralize unhealthy aspects of our lifestyle, including stress and poor diet. You may have heard about their benefits and are wondering which ones functional mushrooms has the most to offer you. By comparing the health benefits, it is possible to determine which best supports your goals. Maitake vs. shiitake — let’s see how they stack up.

Introduction to Maitake and Shiitake mushrooms

Although there are more than ten thousand species of mushrooms worldwide, only a small number are considered functional mushrooms. With centuries of medicinal use, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence for their benefits. Interestingly, maitake and shiitake are two species that also have plenty of modern scientific research to support their benefits.


Maitake, known scientifically as Grifola took care, have a fan-like undulating structure. They have a rich, woody flavor. Maitake mushrooms they are delicious when sauteed in butter or oil, adding a distinct aroma and rich flavor to a variety of dishes.

The optimal growing conditions for maitake are found in the temperate boreal forests of Asia and Europe. They are also found growing at the base of oak trees in the eastern US and Canada, where they are known as hen of the woods or sheep’s head mushrooms. While maitake were once abundant in the wild, foraging and land development began to limit their availability. Fortunately, maitake mushrooms are now successfully grown commercially in indoor growing facilities.


Shiitake, or Lentinus edodes, has the characteristic mushroom shape with a curved stem and an open umbrella-shaped cap with gills underneath. As an edible mushroom, shiitake has a meaty texture and a rich, woody flavor when cooked. Caps add an umami element to stir-fries, pasta, stews and soups. Although the stalks are too tough to eat, they add flavor when dipped in stocks and soups.

The shiitake mushroom grows naturally in the hot, humid climate of Southeast Asia. While it has been cultivated in China and Japan for hundreds of years, it is now grown in the US as well. In controlled culture environments, optimal conditions for shiitake can be maintained. Additionally, indoor cultivation under the supervision of expert mycologists allows for mushroom cultivation free of environmental toxins and pollutants.

Maitake vs. Shiitake: A Comparison of Benefits

As edible mushrooms, these nutritional fungi they offer a low-calorie source of protein and B vitamins that support the nervous system and help provide energy by breaking down proteins, lipids and carbohydrates. Mushrooms have been found to contain a bioavailable form of vitamin B12, as well as copper, a mineral that supports red blood cells, healthy bones and nerves.

Micronutrients are important for health and well-being. Shiitake and maitake provide a source of selenium and ergothioneine, two antioxidants that support the body in protecting itself from the effects of oxidative stress. The researchers compared the diets of ate mushrooms with those who did not and found higher intakes of many nutrients and better diet quality in those who included mushrooms.

Although maitake and shiitake mushrooms have many things in common, each supports the body through their unique bioactive substances. Maitake is special high in antioxidants, including ergothioneine, and contains proteins, glycoproteins and powerful polysaccharides. Shiitake contains eritadenine, immuno-supportive lentinan, polysaccharides and polysaccharide peptides. The prebiotic fiber found in both maitake and shiitake supports the growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system.

Health and Wellness Benefits of Maitake and Shiitake Mushrooms

An animal study showed that the stronger immune support came from the combined use of maitake and shiitake. Only Maitake gave the next strongest response, followed only by Shitake.

Finding quality mushroom products

When comparing maitake to shiitake, it is important to keep in mind that getting the most benefits from both of these types of mushrooms requires regular consumption and the amount of the dose is important. One teaspoon of powder of one species contains 2,000 mg—a recommended daily dose. One of the easiest and most convenient ways to have daily access is with one organic mushroom powder. This type of product can be mixed into a drink or soup, or can be incorporated into a recipe to take advantage of the umami flavor profiles of these exceptional, culinary mushrooms.

Just as functional mushrooms accumulate nutrients as they grow, they can also absorb toxins from their growing environment. For this reason, it is important to know where and under what conditions your mushrooms were grown. AdaptogenShrooms grows both species on their in-house farm in Carlsbad, California with the entire production process taking place within the stricter standards. Each contains the full-spectrum life cycle, including mycelial biomass and fruiting body or Primordia (baby fruit). This provides you with the full range of nutrients and bioactive compounds that each species has to offer.

Fortunately, the nutrition and benefits of these superfood mushroom species are readily available in organic mushroom powder. Supplementing your diet with the regular inclusion of maitake or shiitake is easy with quality products in a user-friendly format. For optimal health benefits, especially strong immune support, you may want to add both of these superfood mushrooms to your daily diet.

  • This can be easily achieved by including AdaptogenShrooms’s Master Blend Organic Mushroom Powder in your daily health routine. Just one level scoop every day in one smoothies or soup provides you with the power of 10 types of mushrooms and three herbal adaptogens. (Note: When dosage is considered, the Master Blend contains only 200 mg of each of the 10 species.)
  • To enjoy the unique flavors of shiitake and maitake in a functional drink, try Om’s Mighty Mushroom Broth. This delicious and nutritious broth combines both species with four additional mushrooms in convenient single-serving pouches.
  • For a specially curated blend that supports beauty and weight management, Om’s Beauty Blend Organic Mushroom Powder combines shiitake and maitake with three additional types of mushrooms. Just one teaspoon of this whole food mushroom powder adds antioxidant power to your latte or matcha every day.

These convenient and delicious ways to reap the benefits of both species make the maitake vs. shiitake question moot. You can’t go wrong with either of these superfood mushrooms, but eating both regularly gives your body the most support for overall health and well-being.

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