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8 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms have been a staple food in many Asian households for many centuries. These mushrooms hold the record as the second most popular and the third most cultivated mushroom in existence today.

Shiitake is native to East Asia. It is widely used as a medicinal plant in traditional medicine due to the many health benefits documented in ancient medical books. It has a meaty texture and woody flavor. It is an excellent additive to salads, soup, and meat dishes.

It's not surprising that you can find shiitake mushrooms in grocery stores. Its meaty and savory flavor are features that make it attractive to many grocery shoppers. Besides, it is loaded with lots of vitamins, including B12. It is also widely acclaimed to fight cancer as well as other cardiovascular infections, among many other beneficial features.

One might start wondering why this mushroom is so powerful. The reason is not farfetched; shiitake mushrooms have a combination of antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. They are also potent in fighting inflammations and controlling blood sugar. You can gain all these and more from simply adding shiitake mushrooms to your diet.

The Benefits of Shiitake Mushrooms

Research has shown that shiitake mushrooms contain several phytochemicals that can protect the DNA from oxidative damage. Lentinan is one of its vital components found in shiitake mushrooms; it protects chromosome damage caused by anticancer treatment. This mushroom is also unique because it contains all of the eight essential amino acids and many other types of amino acids. It is not surprising that this mushroom has proved beneficial to human health in many ways. Here are eight benefits of consuming shiitake mushrooms in your diet.

  • Prevents Obesity

Some of the chemical components in shiitake mushrooms, such as eritadenine and b-glucan, have fat-reducing properties. Research has proved that b-glucan reduces food intake, increases satiety, and can reduce the level of fat in the plasma.

According to research published in the journal of Obesity, shiitake mushroom was effective in curtailing the weight gain in rats fed with high-fat diets. The results of the study made researchers conclude that adding shiitake mushrooms to high-fat diets is efficient in preventing weight gain. Some other ongoing research is focusing on the efficiency of shiitake mushroom for the prevention and treatment of obesity and other metabolic disorders in man.

  • Supports the Immune System

The high nutrient content of shiitake mushroom, which includes vital vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, makes shiitake a potent immune booster.

A study carried out by the American College of Nutrition made participants consume five to ten grams of mushrooms daily. The test also has a control group that does not consume shiitake mushroom at all. At the end of the experiment, it was found that the group that consumed shiitake mushroom has improved gut immunity and cell-effector functions. The research also shows that shiitake mushroom consumption leads to a reduction in gut inflammation.

  • Kills Cancer Cells

Some research has indicated the potency of shiitake mushroom in fighting cancer cells. Also, lentinan, one of the chemical compositions in mushroom, is thought to restore chromosomes damaged caused by cancer treatments.

In 2006, a group of researchers made a study on the potency of ethyl acetate extracted from shiitake mushroom. The result published in the Alternative and Complementary Medicine shows that shiitake mushroom is capable of inhibiting growth in tumor cells through microchemical actions. Shiitake mushroom was able to induce apoptosis, which is the process of programming cell death. This result indicates that shiitake mushrooms could be a potent natural treatment for cancer.

  • Enhances Cardiovascular Health

Shiitake mushrooms have a family of compounds called sterols that can control the way the liver produces cholesterol. Apart from sterols, some other phytonutrients prevent the blood cells from sticking to the walls of the blood vessels, thereby preventing plaque accumulation. All these features help in maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system. 

A group of researchers at Tohoku University in Japan discovered that shiitake mushrooms prevent the blood pressure in hypertensive rats from increasing, The study shows that feeding on shiitake mushrooms caused a decrease in VLDL and HDL cholesterol. Only the VLDL cholesterol decreased in the rats that fed on maitake mushroom only.

  • Antimicrobial Properties

A study carries out in 2011 at the UCL Eastman Dental Institute in London tested the efficacy of shiitake mushrooms in combating gingivitis. They also compared the results with the top gingivitis mouthwash with the active ingredient chlorhexidine. Gingivitis is characterized by the buildup of biofilm in the gingival margin.

The results show that the patients subjected to shiitake mushrooms treatment experienced a reduction in bacteria and other infectious oral microbes. Surprisingly, shiitake does not affect non-infectious organisms in the mouth. On the other hand, chlorhexidine has a mild effect on all organisms in the oral cavity.

  • Increases Energy and Brain Functions

Shiitake mushroom has a high level of B vitamins, that is why it does an excellent job of supporting adrenal functions. It also plays a crucial role in converting nutrients from food into energy. They also help improve hormonal balance, increases focus, and cognitive functions. Adding Shiitake mushrooms can help solve the B vitamins deficiency that many Americans are presently suffering. Such deficiency leads to energy slums, cloudy thinking, and unhealthy blood cells, among many other symptoms.

  • Excellent Source of Vitamin D

We all know that the sun is the best source of vitamin D, but you can still get a decent amount of this vital vitamin from shiitake mushrooms. Vitamin D is crucial for healthy bone and teeth formation and minimizes the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases as well as autoimmune diseases. This vitamin is also required for the normal absorption and metabolism of phosphorus and calcium.

Other benefits of vitamin D include support for the proper functioning of the immune system and maintenance of healthy brain functions. It also reduces the severity of asthma attacks and lowers the risks of multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis in women.

  • Improves Skin Health.

A combination of selenium, vitamin A and Vitamin E helps alleviate acne and its deteriorating effect on the skin. Do you know that two hundred grams of shiitake mushrooms yeilds about 11.4 milligrams of selenium? This figure amount to 16% of the value you need daily value. That is why shiitake mushrooms is an effective natural remedy for acne. The zink content in shiitake mushrooms also helps strengthen the immune system and improve skin healing by reducing the accumulation of DHT. 

Comparing Shiitake Mushrooms With other types of Mushrooms

Many species of mushrooms are known for providing high nutritional and healing values. Let’s take a brief look at how shiitake mushrooms fares among other mushrooms.

Shiitake: It can combat cancer cells, prevents infectious diseases, boosts the immune system, improves brain and cognitive functions, and it’s an excellent source of B family of vitamins.

Maitake: It improves the overall health status of AIDS patients and can regulate blood sugar in people who have diabetes. It likely strengthens the immune systems and reduces hypertension.

Reishi: It is useful in treating inflammation, fatigue, liver diseases, tumors, and cancer. It is useful for alleviating skin disorder; it calms the digestive system, leaky gut syndrome, and alleviates stomach ulcers.

Cordyceps: It has been proved to have anti-aging capabilities, improves the immune system, elevates stamina and athletic performance, combats diabetes, improves liver health, and it’s a natural aphrodisiac.

In summary, Shiitake can provide the following nutrients in varying amounts, fats, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, sugar, proteins, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6 and B12, and vitamin D. The mineral components include manganese, phosphorus, selenium, copper, zinc, potassium, manganese, and iron.

Ideas For Preparing Shiitake Mushroom Meals

There are many ways of using shiitake mushrooms in recipes. You can decide to buy raw, cooked, or dried shiitake. This mushroom has become very popular due to its many health benefits. They are available in grocery stores all over the nation.

Choose the shiitake that is plum and firm; it indicates that the mushroom is still fresh. You can maintain its freshness for several weeks when you store closed containers, sealed bags, or refrigerators. The dried ones should be sored in a sealed bag and kept in the fridge.

While preparing shiitake, cut off the stem, they are too woody to eat. Rather than discard the stems, you can add them to a veggies stock to soak in the nutrients. Rinse the shiitake mushrooms and soak in hot water for about 12 minutes to remove any residue. After that, they are ready to be added to your meals.

  • Add shiitake to an omelet and garnish with other vegetables and avocado for additional health benefits.
  • Cook brown rice with shiitake mushrooms, grated lemon, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil.
  • Add shiitake to your soups for additional nutrients.
  • Add shiitake mushrooms to your Green Bean Casserole Recipe.
  • Create a delicious soup with shiitake mushrooms, peeled shrimps, chicken stock, ginger, coconut milk, and lime juice.
  • Use ghee, marsala wine, and shiitake to create a highly flavored sauce.

Possible Side Effects of Shiitake Mushrooms

Mushrooms generally contain a trace amount of purines which are broken down in the body to form uric acid. A diet high in purine content can raise the levels of uric acid in the body, which might lead to gout. People who are experiencing gout symptoms should limit the intake of diets containing purines.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25866155

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