In the northeastern woods of Japan and the United States grows a ruffly-looking, exotic fungus with exciting possibilities, both culinary and nutritional. Called maitake or hen of the woods mushrooms, their woodsy aroma, meaty texture, and rich flavor have long given them special status in Japanese cuisine. Now, research is showing that maitake have potential that goes far beyond the kitchen.
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Recent studies have shown that Reishi mushrooms and other exotic mushrooms like Maitake and Cordyceps, are not only delicious, but also offer health benefits and help people lose weight. The mushrooms can be added to your favorite recipes and even be a substitute for beef. Other mushrooms can be consumed in tea form or taken as a daily capsule. These mushrooms offer such benefits as increased metabolism, a lower fat and calorie alternative in meals, reduced blood sugar levels, and even increased stamina and endurance to help you get the most from your workout.
In this study, the researchers aimed to see if reishi was effective in preventing obesity. They gave mice different amounts of reishi or placebo and either a normal diet or a high-fat diet for eight weeks. All mice on the high-fat diet gained a lot of weight and body fat, but those given reishi did not gain as much weight or body fat. The reishi supplement did not have an effect on mice fed a normal diet. The supplement appeared to work by improving the number of “good” bacteria in the gut and through reducing inflammation. Some studies have suggested that chronic inflammation and an increased number of “bad” bacteria in the gut are linked to obesity in humans.