Shiitake Mushrooms: Why They’re Good for You

Posted by Kerrilee Burkhardt on
Shiitake Mushrooms: Why They’re Good for You

One of the most popular mushrooms around the world are shiitake mushrooms. Many people prize them for the rich taste and many health benefits as the compounds found in shiitakes are believed to help boost immunity, help fight cancer, and can support heart health, some of the many reasons can be found on our superfoods list.

A Brief Intro to Shiitake Mushrooms

Native to East Asia, Shiitakes are edible mushrooms that are typically tan to dark brown in color. Their caps typically grow between 5 and 10 centimeters and grow on decaying hardwood trees mainly in Japan. The U.S., Canada, China, and Singapore also produce shiitake mushrooms. They can be purchased dried, fresh, or can be found in some dietary supplements.  

Shiitake’s Nutrition Profile

These mushrooms are a low-calorie food that contain a high amount of fibre, some B vitamins, and different minerals. For example, they contain protein, niacin, copper, vitamin D, vitamins B5 and B6, manganese, folate, and zinc. Additionally, shiitake mushrooms contain a few of the same amino acids as meat, as well as polysaccharides and lipids (linked to boosting immunity).

Many of the nutritional properties, typically found in shiitakes, differ depending on where they have been grown, stored and how they are used.

How They’re Typically Used

Shiitake mushrooms have two principle uses: as food and as supplements. They can be cooked whether dried or fresh (dried is more popular) and are typically used in soups, stir-fries, stews. Of course their rich flavour could complement any dish, if you were so inspired. The dried version has a savory and delicious taste. If you want a more intensified flavour, try fresh Shiitakes in your next dish.

In Chinese medicine, shiitake mushrooms are used to boost longevity and health, for improving circulation and are also part of medical traditions in Japan, Eastern Russia, and Korea. Shiitakes are typically found as a supplement on their own or are found in a variety of other superfood supplements as well. 

Additional Health Benefits

Shiitake mushrooms are believed to have many heart healthy benefits when used as a whole food. They are also believed to strengthen immune systems due to the amount of polysaccharides found in them, which also helps fight cancer. In fact, the polysaccharide lentinan has been known to fight tumours and has been shown to inhibit tumour growth, and the growth and spreading of leukemia cells.

When someone goes through major cancer treatment such as chemotherapy in China or Japan, they are given an injectable form of lentinan while they are being medically treated. This has been shown to improve quality of life due to better immune function.

The list of shiitake’s health benefits could literally go on. Not everyone likes the taste of mushrooms, period! Or, might prefer not to use them in cooking for one reason or another. If this is the case, try getting the benefits of this coveted superfood through the use of an organic superfood powder or supplement.


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