Shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) are one of the most popular edible mushrooms native to East Asia, which is cultivated and consumed in many East Asian countries. In Asia, these mushrooms have been used for thousands of years to improve general health. Shiitake is a Japanese name, ‘shii’ is the name of a Japanese tree (Castanopsis cuspidate) where the mushrooms grows and ‘take’ means mushrooms .
Shiitake mushrooms are fungi that naturally grow on decayed wood of deciduous trees like oak, shii, chestnut, maple, mulberry, beech, sweetgum, poplarand ironwood. They are dark brown in colour with caps that grow between 5 to 10 cm.
Shiitake mushrooms are also called black forest mushroom, sawtooth oak mushroom, black mushroom, golden oak mushroom and oakwood mushroom. These mushrooms are versatile, have a savoury and meaty flavour and can be used both in fresh or dried form.
Shiitake mushrooms offer vitamins, minerals and other bioactive compounds that provide an array of health benefits .
Nutritional Value Of Shiitake Mushrooms
100 g of shiitake mushrooms contain 89.74 g water, 34 kcal energy and it also contains:
- 2.24 g protein
- 0.49 g fat
- 6.79 g carbohydrate
- 2.5 g fibre
- 2.38 g sugar
- 2 mg calcium
- 0.41 mg iron
- 20 mg magnesium
- 112 mg phosphorus
- 304 mg potassium
- 9 mg sodium
- 1.03 mg zinc
- 0.142 mg copper
- 0.23 mg manganese
- 5.7 mcg selenium
- 0.015 mg thiamine
- 0.217 mg riboflavin
- 3.877 mg niacin
- 1.5 mg pantothenic acid
- 0.293 mg vitamin B6
- 13 mcg folate
- 18 IU vitamin D
Health Benefits Of Shiitake Mushrooms
1. Help in weight loss
Shiitake mushrooms are low in calories and a good source of fibre. A study published in the Journal of Obesity studied the effects of shiitake mushrooms on plasma lipid profiles, fat deposition, energy efficiency and body fat index. During the study, rats were fed high doses of shiitake mushroom powder with their high-fat diet for six weeks, which resulted in the reduction of body weight gain compared to rats that were given low and medium doses of shiitake powder.
The researchers concluded that shiitake mushrooms can prevent body weight gain, fat deposition and plasma triacylglycerol when added to a high-fat diet. However, further studies are needed to show the effects of shiitake mushrooms on obesity in humans .
2. Boost immunity
Noted studies have shown the effectiveness of shiitake mushrooms on strengthening immunity. A 2015 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition showed that eating shiitake mushrooms daily can help improve immune function . This could be due to the presence of polysaccharides in shiitake mushrooms .
3. Promote heart health
4. May fight against infections
Shiitake mushrooms contain several compounds that exhibit antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal effects, which may fight against bacteria, viral or fungal infections .
A study showed the antimicrobial effects of shiitake mushroom extract on gingivitis, a gum disease caused by a bacterial infection. The study results found that these mushrooms can reduce bad bacteria in the mouth while preserving the healthy bacteria, thereby improving oral health .
5. May strengthen bones
As shiitake mushrooms are a good source of vitamin D and calcium consuming them may help build strong bones. A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that vitamin D2 and calcium obtained from shiitake mushrooms may improve bone mineral density .
6. May manage cancer
Research studies have shown that shiitake mushrooms have the ability to destroy cancer cells. This is due to the presence of polysaccharide lentinan in the mushrooms. Polysaccharide lentinan have immunomodulating and anti-tumour properties that help fight tumours by activating the immune system  .
Side Effects Of Shiitake Mushrooms
Shiitake mushroom are safe to consume, however in rare cases it may cause side effects like skin rash or stomach upset.
A study reported that handling or consuming raw shiitake mushrooms can lead to a skin rash called shiitake mushroom dermatitis, which is likely caused by polysaccharide lentinan .
Another study also found that using powdered shiitake mushroom extract for a prolonged period may cause stomach upset .
How To Store And Cook Shiitake Mushrooms
Store mushrooms in a breathable paper bag and keep it in the freezer. Before cooking fresh shiitake mushrooms, clean them well with water to remove the dirt and when cooking them remove the stems as they remain hard even after cooking. And if using dried shiitake mushrooms, soak them in hot water to soften them.
Image ref: Healthline
Ways To Eat Shiitake Mushrooms
- Sauté shiitake mushrooms with veggies.
- Add them in stir-fry dishes.
- Use the mushroom stems to make soups and broths.
- Roast the mushrooms for a crispy snack.
- Add them to pasta dishes.
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