Shiitake mushrooms are one of the healthiest foods on the planet. With a decent nutritional profile and some impressive health benefits, this edible mushroom is an excellent choice for any diet. Added to that, shiitake mushrooms taste delicious too. With a meaty and flavorful taste, they work well in a wide range of dishes.
In addition, shiitake contains many of the same amino acids as meat. They also boast polysaccharides, terpenoids, sterols, and lipids, some of which have immune-boosting, cholesterol lowering and anticancer effects.
You can cook with both fresh and dried shiitake. Dried shiitake have an Umami flavor that’s even more intense than when fresh. Umami flavor can be described as savory or meaty. It’s often considered the fifth taste, alongside sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Both dried and fresh shiitake mushrooms are used in stir-fries, soups, stews, and other dishes.
1. Boost the Immune System
2. Boost to gut health
3. Good source of Vitamin D
4. Easy source of many beneficial nutrients
5. Reduction of inflammation
6. Great source of protein
7. Low in fats and carbs
8. A very close replacement to meat in flavor and nutrition
Mushrooms are one of the few plant sources of vitamin D. They contain a substance -- ergosterol -- that turns into vitamin D as it’s exposed to ultraviolet light. Your body can't absorb calcium without vitamin D. It also regulates genes that influence cell growth and enzymes in the immune system. Vitamin D helps protect your heart by lowering blood pressure, according to research published in the April 2012 issue of the "Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics." The amount of vitamin D varies depending on the length of exposure to ultraviolet light. Oyster mushrooms may have as much as 103 international units in 100 grams, which is a little less than 1 cup. But the USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory reports 25 international units in 1 cup, which is 4 percent of the recommended daily intake.
Oyster mushrooms and other types of fungi are the only sources of ergothioneine, which functions as an antioxidant and lowers systemic inflammation. Oyster mushrooms are one of the best mushroom sources, according to the University of Pennsylvania. Research published in the November 2010 issue of the "Journal of Medicinal Food" concluded that ergothioneine may prevent the buildup of plaque in the arteries that leads to cardiovascular disease.
Proteins that contain iron are responsible for moving oxygen through blood and into tissues. Iron-dependent enzymes initiate biochemical processes that produce energy and help the liver remove toxins from the bloodstream. In the immune system, iron is essential for the growth of T lymphocytes, which are special cells that destroy viruses and tumor cells. Men should consume 8 milligrams of iron daily, while women need 18 milligrams. One cup of oyster mushrooms provides 12 percent of the daily intake for men and 6 percent for women.
Almost 200 enzymes depend on niacin to perform their jobs activating biochemical reactions. In this role, niacin helps metabolize carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Processes that repair damaged DNA, the carrier of genetic information, also depend on niacin. It contributes to heart health by lowering bad cholesterol and raising good cholesterol, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Men need slightly more niacin than women, so they get 25 percent of their recommended daily intake, while women gain 29 percent.
Firstly, no specific food is a “cure” for cancer, so try not to read too much into these studies. That said, shiitake mushrooms contain various compounds that research demonstrates as having anti-cancer effects. Among these compounds is lentinan, a type of beta-glucan polysaccharide that displays antitumor activity. Notably, research on this compound has shown that high-dose extracts can “significantly decrease” the proliferation (spread) of specific types of cancer cells.
These anti-tumor compounds have also displayed beneficial effects in animal studies.
Shiitake mushrooms provide a substantial amount of the essential mineral copper. Per 100 grams, dried mushrooms contain 258% of the RDA for this essential mineral. For 100 grams of fresh, cooked mushrooms, the provision is 45% of the RDA. This separates shiitake from oyster mushrooms in that they have almost 4 times the amount of copper than that of oyster mushrooms. Copper plays a role in various biological functions, and it is known to be essential for developing and maintaining a healthy immune system. Furthermore, copper deficiency has strong links to cardiovascular disease in animal studies. However, more research is necessary to determine if this is also true for humans.
To increase the vitamin D2 and D4 levels in your mushrooms, simply slice the caps in half, and leave gill side up in sunlight for 12 to 24 . This has a drastic effect in raising the levels of Vitamin D2 and D4 in mushrooms. Oyster mushrooms have the potential to contain twice the amount of Vitamin D2 and D4 as Shiitake after the already mentioned technique.
Information about Vitamin D and it's relation to mushrooms can be found in the following link.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to confidently estimate how much vitamin D is in each mushroom, as this can significantly vary depending on the level of sun exposure (if any).However, vitamin D concentrations can sometimes be extremely high. For instance, dried shiitake mushrooms grown with full sun exposure may offer amounts as high as 46,000 IU per 100 grams.
A variety of research shows that shiitake mushrooms and oyster mushrooms contain compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers believe these anti-inflammatory effects are due to compounds such as ergothioneine and polysaccharides. However, having anti-inflammatory properties and being proven at reducing inflammation in humans are two distinctly separate things. While some studies (in vivo and in vitro) show evidence that mushrooms modestly decrease inflammation in human subjects, further evidence is needed.
Mushrooms contain vitamin D2, as well as lesser amounts of vitamin D3 and D4. Vitamin D2 and D3 are the two most important forms for your health. Vitamin D2 is produced by plants, and Vitamin D3 is the one made by your skin when you get enough sunlight. Fortified foods can contain either form. Studies show that Vitamin D3 is far more important for our health than Vitamin D2. Plants produce Vitamin D2 when they are exposed to UV light (in much the same way as our bodies naturally produce Vitamin D). The most common example is wild mushrooms or mushrooms produced under UV light. Dairy-free milk (including soya, coconut, and almond milk) are often boosted with D2. It is very important for vegetarians and vegans to get enough sunlight as well as vitamin D2 as you are not getting vitamin D3 from animal products.
We can often hear exaggerated claims about almost every food having some impact on weight loss. However, with shiitake mushrooms, there does seem to be something real behind the claims. For example, in rat studies, shiitake mushrooms increases fat elimination into feces and helps to prevent fat deposition. Weight loss appears to happen in humans too. In a 1-year randomized clinical trial, participants were split into two groups; one group consumed a standard diet featuring red meat, and the second group replaced red meat with shiitake mushrooms. After the 1-year trial period, participants following the mushroom diet weighed 7 lbs less than baseline. Additionally, they had an improved body composition, lipid profile, and levels of inflammatory markers compared to the red meat group.
Note: this does not mean we should cut red meat out of the diet; it is a nutrient-dense and healthy food. However, it does show that shiitake mushrooms have some exciting benefits.
So far, we have seen that shiitake mushrooms can have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects. To add one more to the list; these mushrooms have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties too. In one study, an extract of shiitake mushrooms exhibited strong antimicrobial activity against 85% of bacteria tested against. Other studies demonstrate that shiitake’s antimicrobial activities are effective against a wide range of mold, yeasts, and fungi. It is difficult to ascertain what, if any, demonstrable positive effect this could have on humans. However, it is just another useful point about this mushroom and adds to the collective benefits. It may also contribute to shelf-life and better preservation of the nutrients and chemical compounds in the dried mushrooms.
Mushrooms taste amazing. They are incredibly flavorful, and they have a meaty and spongy flavor and texture. Also, they do an excellent job of soaking up flavors, and they will take on some of the taste of what they are being cooked alongside. As a result of this, mushrooms are an part in vegetarian and vegan meat replacements. Interestingly, they even supply a rare non-animal source of vitamin B12 (though only in trace amounts).