Who knew shiitake mushrooms can be so beneficial?
Largely produced in Japan, China and South Korea, shiitake mushrooms account for 10% of the world production of cultivated mushrooms. They are recognizable by their large, dark-brown, umbrella-like caps and slender, cream-coloured stems. In traditional Chinese and Japanese medicines, these mushrooms help to reduce mucous and supporting blood flow.
Known for their meaty and umami flavour, shiitake mushrooms are used to top meat dishes or enhance soup and sauces. Besides making great food, they also contain antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties that support our different bodily functions.
Modern western science has only recently started to catch up with studies to document the benefits of these brown fungus.
The 8 Health Benefits Of Shiitake Mushroom
Shiitake mushroom has a comprehensive nutritional profile. One serving of 145 grams has about 81 calories. They are also high in copper, fibre and contain similar amino acids to red meat – making them an excellent meat substitute.
In fact, four mushrooms will give you 39% of your daily recommended amount of copper, 33% of your recommended vitamin B5, and 10% of your suggested selenium!
Here’s what science tells us about the benefits of shiitakes right now:
1. Support immune system
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 four-week parallel-group trial that involved participants consuming either five or 10 grams of mushrooms daily.
The results suggest that consuming shittakes improved cell proliferation, cell activation and gut immunity. There was also a reduction of inflammation due to mushroom consumption.
2. Fight cancerous cells
Are shiitake mushrooms a miracle cure for cancer? Absolutely not.
But do they have specific properties that can defend against cancer and reduce the size of tumours? Possibly.
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 tumour cells with their mycochemical value. They successfully inducted apoptosis, the process of programmed cell death.
3. Lower cholesterol
According to a review paper from the University of Caxias do Sul, properties – polysaccharides, lipids, sterols, and terpenoids – in shiitake mushroom can help lower cholesterol.
Shiitake mushrooms also contain β-glucans that are used in the treatment of cancer, hypertension, and high cholesterol levels.
4. Support cardiovascular health
A study conducted at Tohoku University on spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) shows that the consumption of shiitake mushroom prevented the increase of blood pressure and cholesterol.
Apparently, eating shiitakes resulted in a decrease in VLDL- and HDL-cholesterol in the rats. This conclusion suggests that dietary mushrooms prevent blood pressure to increase in hypertension.
5. Boost energy and cognitive performance
Shiitake mushrooms are high in B vitamins that are needed for cell metabolism. And vitamin B3 – known as niacin – plays a vital role in supporting your body’s energy production and well-being.
Vitamin B3 turns nutrients you get from food into usable energy. It also helps to balance hormones naturally and break through the brain fog so you can maintain focus all day long. A deficiency of vitamin B3 can affect your cognitive performance and adrenal function, as well as make you feel fatigued.
6. Improve acne condition
The intake of Shiitake mushroom functions as a natural acne treatment. Taking selenium along with Vitamin E and A reduce the acne and its scars. The presence of zinc in shiitakes also enhances the immune function and reduces the DHT buildup to ameliorate the skin healing.
In an open trial, 29 patients were given 0.2mg of selenium (as Na2Se O3) and 10mg of tocopheryl succinate for their acne twice daily for 6-12 weeks. The patients noticed positive results after the treatment, especially in patients with pustular acne and low GSH-Px activity.
7. Provide Vitamin D
Shiitake mushrooms grown naturally under the sun contain a decent source of vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for maintaining bone health and reducing the chances of autoimmune diseases, diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer. It is also required for the metabolism and absorption of phosphorus and calcium.
A deficiency of vitamin D affects your immune system, brain function and body weight. It can also increase the development of rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
8. Contain antimicrobial properties
Eating shiitakes can prevent gum disease? Possibly, according to science. But that does not mean you should stop brushing your teeth altogether!
Based on a 2011 study at the UCL Eastman Dental Institute in London, the antimicrobial effects found on shiitake mushrooms can prevent gingivitis. The effectiveness was compared to that of chlorhexidine, found in gingivitis mouthwash.
The results show that unlike chlorhexidine, which has a limited effect on organisms associated with health, shiitake mushroom extract only lowered the numbers of pathogenic organisms.
Who should avoid shiitake mushrooms?
Due to their powerful effect on the immune system, anyone with autoimmune disorders might want to avoid shiitake mushrooms. The consumption could exasperate symptoms of conditions like lupus or multiple sclerosis. You should also avoid consuming them if you have a blood disorder condition, such as eosinophilia.
While uncommon, some people can experience allergic reactions from these mushrooms too. Symptoms such as fever, congestion, headache, coughing, nausea, sneezing and general malaise might be experienced.
Should you have any doubt or experience the aforementioned symptoms after consumption, consult with your physician immediately.
From Asian soups and stir-fries to smoothies and teas, there are plenty of ways to add shiitake mushrooms to your diet and enjoy their health benefits. They are also a good substitute for red meat. When it comes to your nutrition, you simply just can’t go wrong with these lil’ brown fungus!
Now you can even snack on shiitake mushrooms! Try Shroom Bites from Mushroom Kingdom. Available for group buy now on the EstateJio app.
The EstateJio Team
Health Benefits Times (Shiitake mushroom – Lentinus edodes)
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