Shiitake, whose scientific name is Lentinula edodes, is an edible mushroom native to East Asia, being the second most consumed edible mushroom in the world. Its name have Japanese origins, the tree similar to oak is called Shii and take means mushroom in Japanese.
It has been cultivated for over 1,000 years, but there are earlier references to its consumption.. They are recognized by their brown hat with gray specks and aroma, being the reason why so much appreciated in culinary uses. At present, the Shiitake is one of the main sources of protein in the diet of people in several Asian countries, especially in Japan, Korea and China.
It is an aerobic fungus, decomposer of wood and found naturally in the Asian forests, where it develops on dead trees.
Health benefits of Shiitake mushrooms and Scientific evidences
The most important health benefits of Shitake are: Heart disease, anemia; tiredness; osteoporosis; cholesterol; protects the liver; strong antioxidant; support immune system (inflammations and bacteria); hypertension; thrombosis; cancer.
Shiitake is credited with stimulating properties of the body's immune defenses, especially against bacterial and viral agents.
Also associated with hepatoprotective properties (liver protection), cholesterol lowering and anti-caries and atherosclerosis.
This group of fungi would be able to help the body act against cancer, inflammation and bacteria. This healthy mushroom would also help control the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and contribute to the health of the intestinal flora.
1. Reducing Cholesterol and help to lose weight:
With a low level of calories of fresh mushroom, shitake is an excellent food to be part of a diet to lose weight. The mushroom also provides a good amount of fiber, a large percentage of water and few carbohydrates. This means that shitake helps to lose weight because it provides satiety with few calories and can be considered a low glycemic index food, which does not raise blood glucose sharply, contributing for a healthy metabolization of fats.
And for those who are trying to reduce their consumption of animal protein, or being vegetarian or vegan, shitake is one of the best options for making your meatless menu, since it has a good amount of protein and vitamins complex B, good to strengthen nervous system.
The shitake contains eritadenine, a substance can lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. Also, a scientific study in Japan found that shitake increased the amount of cholesterol in the stool, which in turn reduced cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. This result was verified in other scientific studies carried out with the fresh mushroom and with the shitake extract in human.
Shiitake have three compounds that may help lower cholesterol:
Eritadenine: A compound that inhibits an enzyme involved in producing cholesterol
Another study to prove the good results of Shiitake in lowering Cholesterol, being an excellent option food for those who would like to prevent and fight obesity and related metabolic disorders:
A 2011 study published in the Journal of Obesity examined the effects of shiitake mushrooms on plasma lipid profiles, fat dispositions, energy efficiency and body fat index. Rats were fed a high-fat diet for a six-week period. Researchers found significant effects of dietary intervention on body weight gain. Rats on a high dose of shiitake mushroom diet (which involved adding mushroom powder to a high-fat diet) had 35 percent lower body weight gains than rats on low and medium shiitake mushroom diets. Rats on the high dose shiitake mushroom diet also had significantly lower total fat masses and had a trend of lower fat accumulation.
Another compound that outstands in the properties of the shitake mushroom is lentinana, that strengthens the immune system and prevents and fights cancer.
Lentinana, a type of beta-glucan very common in medicinal mushrooms, stimulates the immune system and helps to activate certain defense cells and proteins responsible for attacking tumors.
Several scientific studies have proven the antitumor action of lentinana, which would be able to reduce and slow the growth of some types of tumors, especially those of gastric origin. In renowned Japanese universities also proved that capacity of lentinana to cause regression and prevent the metastasis of some forms of cancer.
A 2006 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine investigated the potential roles of an ethyl acetate fraction from shiitake mushrooms. The study involved two human breast carcinoma cell lines, one human nonmalignant breast epithelial cell line and two myeloma cell lines. The results suggest that shiitake mushrooms were able to inhibit growth in tumor cells with their mycochemical value. Shiitake mushroom successfully inducted apoptosis, the process of programmed cell death. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16566671
3. Fight Free Radicals
When in excess free radicals can cause a number of complications, ranging from premature aging to cancer. Substances capable of combating this excess of free radicals are called antioxidants and can be found in abundance in foods of plant origin, among them shitake.
There is a substance in Shiitake with a strong antioxidant capacity named L-ergothioneine, a potent compound capable of preventing free radical damage to the body's healthy cells. It has already been proven that the accumulation of free radicals can cause these cells to mutate and end up causing the cancer to appear.
Researchers have found that Shitake contains a greater amount of L-ergotionein than all other mushrooms for human consumption.
4. Strengthens the Immune System
According to researchers, this can be considered as one of the greatest benefits of shitake mushroom for health. Because shitake contains lentinana, a substance that acts on the body's defense mechanism against disease. Recently has been discovered that Shitake can be even more effective than some western medicine drugs in treating infections caused by viruses or bacterias.
A 2015 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition evaluated 52 healthy males and females, aged 21–41 years, to determine if shiitake mushrooms could improve human immune function. The study involved a 1-month parallel group trial that involved participants consuming either five or 10 grams of mushrooms daily.
The results suggest that consuming mushrooms improved cell effector function and improved gut immunity. There was also a reduction of inflammation due to mushroom consumption. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25866155
Additionally, your immune system gets weaker with age. However, a mouse study found that a supplement derived from shiitakes helped reverse some of the age-related decline in immune function. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26135107
5. Control Blood Pressure
One more benefit of shitake mushroom is to lower blood pressure levels, preventing and even fighting hypertension. This property of shitake is due to the presence of niacin, vitamin B3, which can cause dilatation of blood vessels, decreasing automatically blood pressure.
A study conducted at Tohoku University in Japan found that shiitake mushrooms prevented blood pressure increase in hypertensive rats. Shiitake feeding resulted in a decrease in VLDL (good cholesterol) and HDL (bad cholesterol), whereas maitake mushroom feeding caused a decrease in VLDL cholesterol only. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3443885
6. Protects the Cardiovascular System
The benefits of shitake mushroom to the heart come indirectly about by three ways: By controlling the LDL, which when elevated can increase the risk of coronary heart disease; reduces the risk of arteriosclerosis (obstruction of the arteries that can cause myocardial infarction); Controls the high blood pressure levels, which are associated with several cardiovascular diseases.
A study in lab rats fed a high-fat diet found that those given shiitake mushrooms developed less fat in their livers, less plaque on their artery walls and had lower cholesterol levels than those who didn't get any mushroom supplement. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3829752/
7. Prevent thrombosis
Shitake still contains lanthionine, a natural compound that inhibits platelet aggregation, preventing the formation of clots that block blood circulation.
8. Antimicrobial properties
A 2011 study at the Eastman Dental Institute in London tested shiitake’s antimicrobial effects on gingivitis, a preventable disease that involves inflammation of the gums due to the buildup of a microbial biofilm at the gingival margin.
9. Strengthen the nervous system, improving cognitive functions
Shiitake mushrooms are a great source of B vitamins, which help to nourish the adrenal function improving the levels of energy of the body. Vitamins of complex B will improve cognitive performance, which is something that millions of people around the world need constantly every day. If people have a deficiency of vitamins complex B may feel tired easily, affecting the blood quality and have poor memory and intellectual performance.
Getting enough vitamin D is extremely important, because its linked with the prevention of many diseases, such us: bone health; heart disease; diabetes; autoimmune diseases; cancer. It’s also crucial for the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorus.
Vitamin D can have positive influence in: immune system; brain function; asthma; rheumatoid arthritis.
Along with shiitake, also wild caught salmon fish and raw dairy eggs are an excellent source of vitamin D. It would be possible to make a good recipe rich in vitamin D with these 3 foods.
Shiitake mushroom is rich in fiber, protein, beta-glucan polysaccharides, minerals and Vitamin D. Rich source of Vitamin D: Shiitake mushroom contains natural Vitamin D. This Vitamin contributes to the absorption of calcium from the diet. Calcium it’s very important in the correct functioning of the heart, muscles and nerves, in addition to its well-known function for bones.
Contains β-D-glucans: β-D-Glucans are branched polysaccharides from the cellulose family that can be found as a part of cell walls of Shiitake.
Although various types of mushrooms differ in terms of their exact calorie and nutrient count, in general they’re very low in carbohydrates, calories, fat, sodium and sugar. Shiitake provides good quantity of antioxidants, vitamins complex B, copper and selenium.
In addition, shiitakes contain: many of the same amino acids as meat; polysaccharides, terpenoids, sterols and lipids linked to tonify the immune system, cholesterol-lowering and anti-cancer effects.
Learn the side effects of Shiitake mushrooms
For those who suffer from allergy or who have undergone organ transplantation (Immunosuppressants). It is not advisable to tonify the immune system to avoid rejection of the organ.
Recommended maximum daily dosage of shiitake powder as supplement - 2 teaspoons (6 g) (1 dessert spoon = ± 3 grams) Recently is noted that there is new trends about superfoods in which medicinal mushrooms are included. But not everyone agrees that mushrooms are healthy at all costs. Some yoga traditions, for example, consider that fungi are food of low vital energy, being some species parasites, that could accumulate toxins harmful to our organism.
Fungi are heterotrophic by absorption, that is, they obtain food from other living beings with which they associate, becoming decomposers, parasites or mutualistic. This characteristic is remembered by some professionals who see fungi as real sponges, or filters, and whose consumption should be strictly organic. If the environment has any kind of pollution is likely that the mushroom will absorb it.
Anyway, the general advice and shared by all health professionals is not to overdo the consumption of mushrooms.
How to eat Shiitake mushrooms?
The most common use for shiitake mushrooms is food, as a typical ingredient of Chinese, Japanese and macrobiotic cuisines. They are used in the preparation of soups, stroganoff, risottos, sauces, salads and can also be used as filling in pasta or as seasonings.
Shiitake mushrooms are traditionally added to miso soup. Healthy salted mushrooms with onions and garlic. Serve as a side dish or as a topping for chicken, beef, lamb or venison.
To give your vegetable stock an extra depth, add dried shiitake mushrooms.
As an example of a quick dish: Asian pasta dish, healthy saute shiitake mushrooms with snap peas and tofu. Season to taste and serve over buckwheat soba noodles (or your favorite type of pasta).
Shiitake can be used whole, in pieces or only with the upper part. It can be purchased fresh, yielding more, or dehydrated which has a stronger flavor.
Suggested uses of Shiitake in form of dry powder which is used as superfood: Add one or two dessert spoons of Shiitake powder to sauces, mixed with shakes, water, teas, juices, soups, smoothies. Add it after finishing stews, tortillas and risottos and other recipes. Add it once the dish is tempered.
Where can I find supplements of Shiitake?
Here we share with you some good quality products where you can buy your mushroom extracts that can be used for health:
For Europe, if you are looking for Shiitake as a superfood to add to your breakfasts and meals, we advise you to buy the best quality from a Spanish company called Drasanvi:
Avinash J, Vinay S, Jha K, et al. The Unexplored Anticaries Potential of Shiitake Mushroom. Pharmacogn Rev. 2016 Jul-Dec;10(20):100-104. doi: 10.4103/0973-7847.
Bisen PS, Baghel RK, Sanodiya BS et al. Lentinus edodes: a macrofungus with pharmacological activities. Curr Med Chem. 2010;17(22):2419-30. Review. 2010.
Bruhn JN, Mihail JD, and Pickens JB. Forest farming of shiitake mushrooms: an integrated evaluation of management practices. Bioresour Technol. 2009 Dec;100(24):6472-80. Epub 2009 Jul 28. 2009.
Chan GCF, Chan WK, and Sze DMY. The effects of -glucan on human immune and cancer cells. Journal of Hematology & Oncology 2009, 2:25 (10 June 2009). 2009.
Chandra L, Alexander H, Traoré D et al. White button and shiitake mushrooms reduce the incidence and severity of collagen-induced arthritis in dilute brown non-agouti mice. J Nutr. 2011 Jan;141(1):131-6. Epub 2010 Nov 24. 2011.
Chandra LC, Traore D, French C, et al. White button, portabella, and shiitake mushroom supplementation up-regulates interleukin-23 secretion in acute dextran sodium sulfate colitis C57BL/6 mice and murine macrophage J.744.1 cell line. Nutrition Research, Volume 33, Issue 5, May 2013, pages 388-396.
Dai X, Stanilka JM, Rowe CA, et al. Consuming Lentinula edodes (Shiitake) Mushrooms Daily Improves Human Immunity: A Randomized Dietary Intervention in Healthy Young Adults. J Am Coll Nutr. 2015;34(6):478-87.
Grundemann C, Garcia-Kaufer M, Sauer B, et al. Comparative chemical and biological investigations of β-glucan-containing products from shiitake mushrooms. Journal of Functional Foods, Volume 18, Part A, October 2015, pages 692-702.
Hearst R, Nelson D, McCollum G et al. An examination of antibacterial and antifungal properties of constituents of Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) and oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus) mushrooms. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2009 Feb;15(1):5-7. Epub 2008 Dec 2. 2009.
Huang X and Nie S. The structure of mushroom polysaccharides and their beneficial role in health. Food Funct. 2015 Oct;6(10):3205-17.
Kojima H, Akaki J, Nakajima S et al. Structural analysis of glycogen-like polysaccharides having macrophage-activating activity in extracts of Lentinula edodes mycelia. J Nat Med. 2010 Jan;64(1):16-23. Epub 2009 Aug 27. 2010.
Liu Y, Lei XY, Chen LF, et al. A novel cysteine desulfurase influencing organosulfur compounds in Lentinula edodes. Sci Rep. 2015 Jun 9;5:10047. doi: 10.1038/srep10047.
Llorente-Mirandes T, Barbero M, Rubio R, et al. Occurrence of inorganic arsenic in edible Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) products. Food Chemistry, Volume 158, 1 September 2014, pages 207-215.
Money NP. Are mushrooms medicinal? Fungal Biology, Volume 120, Issue 4, April 2016, pages 449-453.
Ramberg JE, Nelson ED, and Sinnott RA. Immunomodulatory dietary polysaccharides: a systematic review of the literature. Nutrition Journal 2010, 9:54 (18 November 2010): 1-22. 2010.
Rao JR, Smyth TJ, Millar BC et al. Antimicrobial properties of shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes). Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2009 Jun;33(6):591-2. Epub 2008 Dec 31. 2009.
Ren M, Ye L,. Hao X, et al. Polysaccharides from Tricholoma matsutake and Lentinus edodes enhance 5-fluorouracil-mediated H22 cell growth inhibition. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Volume 34, Issue 3, June 2014, pages 309-316.
Rop O, Mlcek J, and Jurikova T. Beta-glucans in higher fungi and their health effects. Nutr Rev. 2009 Nov;67(11):624-31. Review. 2009.
Sasidharan S, Aravindran S, Latha LY et al. In vitro antioxidant activity and hepatoprotective effects of Lentinula edodes against paracetamol-induced hepatotoxicity. Molecules. 2010 Jun 23;15(6):4478-89. 2010.
Stephany MP, Chung S, Handler MZ, et al. Shiitake Mushroom Dermatitis: A Review. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2016 Oct;17(5):485-489.
Tian Y, Zhao Y, Huang J, et al. Effects of different drying methods on the product quality and volatile compounds of whole shiitake mushrooms. Food Chemistry, Volume 197, Part A, 15 April 2016, pages 714-722.
Takakura Y, Sofuku K, Tsunashima M, et al. Lentiavidins: Novel avidin-like proteins with low isoelectric points from shiitake mushroom (Lentinula edodes). J Biosci Bioeng. 2016 Apr;121(4):420-3.
Tokimoto K, Tabuchi A, Sakuno E, et al. Comparative analyses of anatomical, physical, and chemical properties of dried shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) cultivated on logs and sawdust media. Reports of the Tottori Mycological Institute, 2016, No.46, pages 12-22.
Wang L, Wang C, Gao X, et al. Purification, characterization and anti-aging capacity of mycelia zinc polysaccharide by Lentinus edodes SD-08. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2015 Apr 9;15:111. doi: 10.1186/s12906-015-0630-7.
Doctor in Traditional Chinese Medicine by Southwest Medical University, China. Licensed Acupuncturist (N.0500096) and Phytotherapist (N.0400028) by the Portuguese Health Ministry. Post-Graduated in Health Sciences at Oporto University, Portugal
One other important note is that scientists have also discovered that due to Maca’s nutritional value, the food has the ability to regulate, support, and balance the hormonal systems of both men and women for optimal function. One of the very great things about Maca root is that it is not "gender specific” and works equally well for both men and women.
What is sesame seeds? Besides having a pleasant and striking flavor, is a great source of nutrients. They are oval and flattened seeds, extremely small, but with high powers for human health. Its flavor is smooth, very similar to that of walnut and is also slightly crunchy.