So much goodness in just one mushroom! Here’s our simplified list of Shiitake health benefits.
Shiitake happens to be one of our favorite mushrooms — and we’re not alone in our love. We want to invite you to join the fan club for these tender little ‘shrooms, by sharing with you some Shiitake health benefits and other fun facts.
Head into the produce aisle of any supermarket, in the US or just about anywhere else, and look for the mushroom bins. What will you find? Besides the ubiquitous “white” and “brown” button mushrooms, you’ll likely find the mighty Shiitake mushroom (Lentinula edodes), with a brown cap and white or cream stem, serrated gills and white spores.
These tasty mushrooms find a home on our plates more often than any other mushroom except those buttons! Beyond their rich, meaty flavor — that’s thanks to their high umami content — Shiitake mushrooms also have a long history of use in herbalism.
Whether you choose to eat them fresh or dried, these mushrooms are worth getting to know. Here’s a look at Shiitake health benefits. We narrowed it down to three here, but we could go on all day!
Shiitake health benefit 1: They may love your liver.*
Shiitake has long been used to show the liver a little love.* This mushroom supports the liver — and the digestive system — thanks to a compound called eritadenine.* In your body, the liver is responsible for producing and eliminating (breaking down) cholesterol, which is used to make hormones, vitamin D and some digestive enzymes.
The substance eritadenine is believed to help maintain healthy levels of cholesterol within the liver.*
Shiitake health benefit 2: They support your immune system.*
Move over, chicken soup. Shiitake broth is what’s for dinner! In both food and extract form, Shiitake has quite the rep for supporting the immune system.*
All mushrooms contain a type of complex carbohydrates called beta-glucans, which have been extensively researched. They support the immune system as well as healthy cell turnover.*
Shiitake uniquely contains a beta-glucan called lentinan. This compound has been used around the world to maintain cellular health and a healthy immune system.*
Tip: For a simple way to enjoy Shiitake health benefits, try simmering a few broken Shiitake caps (better for extracting the good stuff) in water with garlic and ginger. After a few hours, strain and whisk in miso paste for a tasty soup.
Health benefit 3: Shiitake mushrooms are packed with nutrition.
Shiitake mushrooms contain fiber, carbohydrates and protein, as well as essential vitamins and minerals. Mushrooms, in general, are relatively low in calories, so they’re also a great way to “bulk” up any meal.
It’s worth noting that Shiitake (and other mushrooms) are sources of some B vitamins as well as vitamin D — a rarity outside of animal foods.