When most people hear the word fungi, it doesn’t exactly make their mouths water. The shiitake mushroom however, is one which, when cooked properly should do just that. Not only will it make your taste buds tingle, but the rest of your body will thank you for all of the beneficial nutrients it provides.

The pungent flavor of these Asian mushrooms can scare people, but the plethora of nutrients should not. The Japanese were known for preserving the shiitake mushroom hundreds of years ago by keeping them in a mixture of rice bran and sea salt. These vegetables lasted for weeks with this preservation method; the Japanese had a respect for their vegetables and used the medicinal properties of the shiitake to increase the longevity of their people (the Japanese are known for living a very long time!)

This “super veggie” is loaded with a wide variety of nutrients from B vitamins such as thiamine, niacin, riboflavin and B6 to Vitamin D, amino acids & dietary fiber.  Shiitake mushrooms would be a beneficial additive to any diet! According to the USDAs National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, 7-8 shiitake mushrooms (the amount you could easily add to a salad, soup or your morning eggs) contain:

  • 2 grams protein
  • 3 grams of fiber
  • 35 IU of vitamin D
  • 2 mg zinc (~20%)
  • and are a source of B-vitamins

The compound eritadenine, which is found in the shiitake mushroom, has been shown to have cholesterol-lowering effects by blocking cholesterol in the bloodstream. A 2001 study demonstrated that people who ate one raw shiitake mushroom a day lowered their serum cholesterol levels by 12 % and may lower blood pressure. Also, recent studies on the shiitake demonstrate cancer-fighting properties.

When the shiitake is grown, the simple sugar, AHCC is produced, which is believed to contain the cancer-preventative and treatment properties.

These mushrooms can be found at most grocery stores in the fresh produce areas. They usually cost between $4 and $8 per pound, which you may say is expensive for mushrooms but the extra couple dollars is well-worth your health. They can be added into any recipe where you would normally use mushrooms such as a filled omelet or pasta. So give shiitake mushrooms a try sometime…you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

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