06 Sep Shiitake Mushroom
These mushrooms are one of the most popular culinary mushrooms in the world and are often used in asian cuisine. They were first cultivated in the 12th century, and because of increasing demand, today shiitake mushrooms are commercially grown all over the world.
Rich in Nutrients
This mushroom is frequently sought after for its earthy flavor and its rich supply of nutrients. Shitake contains significant amounts of copper, potassium, vitamin D, zinc, and all eight essential amino acids. Along with shiitake’s unique meaty texture, make it an excellent substitute for meat in vegan and vegetarian dishes.
Shiitake also contains a number of compounds that provide its medicinal benefits. These include the polysaccharide and water-soluble lignins, beta glucans, oligosaccharides, and triterpenes.
Shiitake mushrooms have been used for hundreds of years to prevent and treat a number of health conditions. Modern science has confirmed many of these uses. The following are four of the health benefits these medicinal mushrooms provide.
- Enhances Immune Function
Shiitake mushrooms contain antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties that support a healthy immune response. The lentinan in shitake protects against a variety of bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections, while the centinamycins possess antibacterial benefits and eritadenine contains antiviral properties. The lignins from the mushroom’s fruiting bodies have antiviral and immunomodulating effects.
A one-month trial with 52 healthy volunteers found that eating dried shiitake mushrooms daily improved gut immunity. In particular, blood samples found that the mushrooms increased the production of two important types of T-cells and natural killer cells. They also discovered an increase in TNF-alpha, involved in modulating inflammation, and IL-4, IL-10, and IL-1a, interleukins that regulate the immune system. A 2019 study found that a standardized extract of shiitake could help regulate natural killer cells and other T cells.
- Promotes Heart Health
Shiitake mushrooms may help improve cardiovascular health by addressing common risk factors for heart disease. Animal studies have found that shiitake mushrooms lower LDL levels thanks to three compounds found in the fungi, which include:
Beta-glucan, interacts with cholesterol in the gut to lower cholesterol levels, while eritadenine inhibits the metabolism of cholesterol in the liver, and sterols compete with dietary cholesterol so less is absorbed by the small intestine.
The biologically active compounds in shiitake may also prevent atherosclerosis. Studies have found that the compounds in shiitakes inhibit the accumulation of cholesterol, calcium, fibrin, and cellular debris in artery walls.
- Supports Healthy Bones and Teeth
Shitake mushrooms contain vitamin D, which may help strengthen bones by aiding in the absorption of calcium. One study found that shiitake increased bone mineralization and in combination with two other functional mushrooms (maitake and turkey tail) inhibited osteoclast activity.
Mushrooms that are exposed to sunlight or a UV lamp produce a plant-based source of vitamin D known as vitamin D2, which is not utilized as well as animal-based, vitamin D3.
Shiitake mushrooms may also help to protect teeth and gums from harmful bacteria that can lead to cavities and gum disease. British researchers have found that antibacterial compounds in shiitake reduce harmful bacteria that cause gingivitis. Another study found that these same compounds inhibit plaque-building bacteria that can lead to cavities. Together, these studies suggest that shiitakes may be a beneficial addition to your oral health routine.
- Promotes a Healthy Weight
The eritadenine and beta-glucan in shiitake mushrooms may support a healthy weight. A 2011 animal study found that rats fed a diet high in shiitake mushrooms had 35% less weight gain than rats eating a diet low in the mushroom. Recent research suggests that shiitake and other medicinal mushrooms help protect against risk factors such as high cholesterol and metabolic syndrome.
In summary, shiitake mushrooms are a delicious way to enhance your health, though if eating mushrooms isn’t your thing, you can still enjoy their numerous health benefits by taking a shiitake supplement in the form of a powder, capsule, liquid or tasty chew.