Enokitake (えのき茸, 팽이버섯)

Flammulina velutipes (Known as Enokitake, えのき茸, 팽이버섯)The Enokitake or ‘Enoki’ which is Japanese for the Hackberry is a long and thin mushroom.

The Scientific name for the Enokitake is Flammulina Populicola and it also goes by the names The Velvet Foot, Enokidake, Nametake, Yuki-motase, Winter Mushroom and Snow Puff Mushroom.

It grows naturally on stumps of Enoki or the Chinese Hackberry tree.

Other species of trees that the Enoki prefers are the Mulberry and the Persimmon trees.

Enokitake grows both in the wild and in agricultural farms or forests. Mushrooms grown under the different environments look different from one other.

When grown in sunlight, the Enokitake mushroom becomes dark brown in colour, while those deprived of sunlight are whitish. This mushroom sometimes grows very long, having small caps.

Other times they will grow shorter but with wider caps, varying with the amount of oxygen availed to the mushroom.

The more the oxygen they are exposed to, the shorter and wider they are. 

 

 

Enoki as a Cuisine

The long, thin Enokitake is common in Asian cuisines. Generally, Enoki has a mild delicious flavour and a nice crunchy feel. They are popularly known as sodium free mushrooms rich in Vitamin B3 not to mention 100% cholesterol free.

A standard serving (a cup) of Enoki contains 28 calories. Below is a summary of its nutrients:

Calories

Protein

Carbohydrates

Dietary Fibre

Potassium

28

2g

5g

2g

236mg

 

The Enoki mushroom also contains trace amounts of iron.

 

Medicinal Properties of Enoki

The Enoki mushroom has antioxidant properties. A research done established the existent of ergothioneine, an antioxidant in the mushroom. In the research, Proflamin, a compound in the Enoki mushroom helped mice suffering from cancer to lengthen their lives by 85%. The Enoki suppressed further cancer growth and spread when tested on Swiss albino mice that were suffering from Sarcoma 180. In Japan, epidemiological studies have shown that the Enokitake mushrooms have tumour fighting compounds.

Enokitake has antioxidants that rid the body of free radicals hence boosting the immune system. One such antioxidant in the mushroom is ergothioneine. Research performed on animals indicates there is potential to develop an anti-cancer vaccine using this antioxidant. The Enoki mushroom impacted greatly in tests relating to treatment of lymphoma and prostate cancer. Researchers further say that the flammulin and polysaccharides in the mushroom act as anti-cancer agents.

According to researcher Wang et al, in his book Purification, characterization and immuno-modulating properties of polysaccharides isolated from Flammulinavelutipes mycelium he observed that cancer prevalence is low in areas of Japan where the Enokitake mushroom is grown. They particularly cited Nagano in Japan where Enokitake is farmed, as having significantly low numbers of cancer patients.

According to another research done by the National University of Singapore, which was published for the first time in 2005, the stipe of the Golden Needle mushroom has protein in large quantities. These proteins, known as ‘Five’, assist in regulating the immune system. The research found that the Golden Needle mushroom also has flammutoxina, a protein that is cardiotoxic and cytolytic. The tests further showed that the protein could be taken orally without any risk of toxicity. 

The Enokitake mushroom also has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. The active ingredients in the Enokitake mushroom include lectin and beta-D-glucan. Lectin is an immune-modulatory protein which enhances production of antioxidants. According to researchers Wichers et al., Immunomodulatory capacity of fungal proteins on the cytokine production of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells.,IntImmunopharmacol these ingredients help to balance the immune system and to keep the liver healthy.

The Enoki is able to fight against diseases of degenerative sicknesses such as dementia and Alzheimers. It also has anti-inflammatory substances that help lower the risk of ailments. The detoxifying nature of these substances also protects you from the risk of heart diseases.

The Enokitake mushroom is valued very highly in Japan, not just for its culinary properties, but more so for its contribution to health. The Japanese produce the tender species known as Enokitake. It is very conspicuous in Japanese cuisines especially in gourmet restaurants. The Japanese also like the Enokitake mushroom in salads. According to studies done (Ying et al, 1987;Yoshioka et al, 1973), Flammulina Velutipes can prevent or even cure gastroenteric ulcers and liver disease, when taken consistently. It can also be used in treating staphylococcus aureus.

The same research showed that the Enokitake mushroom has many amino acids. These amino acids were also essential in curtailing the development of sarcoma 180 and Ehrlich ascities tumour in the mice. Lysine on the other hand contributed to the body growth, both in weight and in height.

Warning: The potency of the cardiotoxic protein, flammutoxin and its bad effects are disabled when exposed to 100 degrees of heat for 20 consecutive minutes. Since it is still not clear the levels that can adversely affect a human being when taken consistently therefore it is better to take Enokitake when cooked. For those who like it raw however, you may need to reduce your frequency of consumption.


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