Enoki or enokitake is a long, slender, white mushroom. It is also known as lily mushroom, golden needle mushroom, futu mushroom, enokidake, yuki-motase, snow puff mushroom, velvet shank, velvet stem, velvet foot, nametake and winter mushroom. In the scientific community, it’s known as Flammulina velutipes.
This mushroom is traditionally added to soups. It can also be used in other dishes such as salads. Aside from its wonderful flavor, enokis are more popular for their medicinal value.
What does enokitake look like?
Enokitake is a long mushroom with a slender stalk and a tiny cap on one end. This is a popular ingredient in East Asian cooking, specifically in Korea, Vietnam, Japan and China.
The taste is mildly sweet, with a crisp texture. It can be eaten raw, topped over steaming soups or in salads. It can also be lightly cooked.
The enokitake grows in clusters, looking like small bouquets. The appearance of the enoki mushroom varies, depending on what types of environment it grew.
For example, enokis that grew exposed to sunlight have dark brown colors. The ones grown without any sun exposure become the white enokis that many people are more familiar with.
The thinness of the stalks varies, depending on the amount of oxygen the enokis were exposed to during the growing period. The stalks become wider and shorter if the mushrooms were exposed to more oxygen. The long and slender stalks develop if the oxygen exposure is kept to a minimum.
The white, slender enokis have better quality compared to the brown ones. The white enoki mushroom is firmer and crisp while the brown ones tend to be slimy.
White enokis are typically the cultured varieties. It is easier to keep the exposure to sun and oxygen to a minimum during cultivation compared to when the enokis thrive in the wild.
Health Benefits of Enokitake Mushroom
Enokis have an abundance of active compounds, minerals and vitamins that work together to promote several health benefits. One notable combination of active compounds in enoki is the large amounts of dietary fiber, linoleic acid and chitosan. The mushroom is also full of different antioxidants. All these promote several health benefits such as the following:
The long list of nutrients found in this slender mushroom fruiting body mycelium all boost the body’s immune function. Compounds such as the amino acids and minerals like selenium, zinc and iron are vital nutrients that keep the immune cells energized and ready for action. These immune-boosting compounds help the body to repair any damage from exposure to infections and toxins, as well as to the normal wear and tear process. This ability helps to restore health and keep the body more able to fight against stress and infections.
This benefit is one of the leading reasons for enoki’s place among the most effective medicinal mushrooms in the world. Traditional Japanese and Chinese medicinal practices have been using enoki to promote health. By boosting the immune system, enoki is an effective tonic to take for liver diseases. It is also effective in healing different stomach ailments.
Belly fat buster
Enoki mushrooms are rich in CLA or conjugated linoleic acid. CLA helps in weight loss. CLA can also be found in meats but enoki is a healthier source. The mushroom has low calories and fat, unlike other meat CLA sources.
CLA helps in busting stubborn belly fat. It activates the body’s various enzymes that work together to speed up burning of visceral fat.
Aside from CLA, enoki also has chitosan. This active compound also helps in burning gut fat.
Blood sugar regulator
The high dietary fiber content of enoki mushrooms aids in normalizing blood sugar levels, especially after meals. This effect has a wide range of other health benefits. Keeping blood sugar within normal limits can help in improving energy levels. It helps to control fat accumulation and cholesterol levels in the body. This also helps in effective weight management and weight loss.
Another study found that the enoki mushroom inhibits melanosis.
There are more benefits to eating enoki besides these. Research is also ongoing to further learn about the different active compounds and determine what else enoki can do to improve health. But for now, just enjoy the delicious flavor and experience the many alternative herbal health benefits enokitake can offer.
Where can enokitake be found?
Enoki mushroom can thrive in forests, agricultural areas or in the wild. This mushroom typically grows on the stumps of Chinese hackberry trees. It can also be found growing naturally on persimmon and mulberry trees.
Active compounds in enokitake
Enokitake is abundant in bioactive substances such as the following:
- Vitamin B
- Enoki chitosan
- Linoleic acid
- Dietary fiber
- Vitamin D
- Amino acids such as ergothioneine, valine and lysine