If you are ever on an episode of Family Feud and have to name popular mushroom varieties, we guarantee that Shiitake will earn your team some pretty high points. It is the second most-consumed mushroom in the US, right after white button mushrooms/portobello/cremini – which is technically the same mushroom type at different stages of growth.
Shiitake mushrooms have a remarkable umami flavor and a texture that ranges from tender when raw to meaty when cooked, especially when using the dried version. This is partly what makes them a prized possession in the culinary world.
On the health and nutritional front, Shiitake mushrooms have long been highly sought-after for their medicinal benefits. They offer tremendous support to the body’s immune system thanks, in large part, to the various nutrients and minerals they contain.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about Shiitake mushroom nutrition facts and health benefits that you probably didn’t know about – well, until now.
What Are Shiitake Mushrooms?
The Shiitake mushroom, or Lentinula edodes as it is scientifically called, is an edible fungus that is native to China, Japan, the Korean peninsula, and other regions across East Asia. It typically grows on dead or decaying hardwoods.
Shiitakes are usually tan to dark brown and have rounded caps that grow to between 2 and 4 inches in diameter.
Although Japan produces 83% of the world’s Shiitakes, mushroom farms in the US, Canada, Taiwan, and Singapore are now using synthetic substrates to cultivate these highly coveted mushrooms. You can eat them like vegetables in fresh or dried form, or consume them as dietary supplements.
Shiitake Mushroom Nutrition Information
In traditional Chinese medicine, Shiitakes are used to treat cold and flu cases, and several other ailments like atherosclerosis and high cholesterol.
It is also considered a great appetite suppressant among individuals battling with eating disorders, and an excellent adaptogenic to help people cope with and adapt to various physical, psychological, or environmental stressors.
Here’s an overview of the nutritional profile of 100 grams of raw Shiitakes.
- Water: 89.74g
- Calories: 34
- Dietary fiber: 2.5g
- Fat: 0.49g
- Protein: 2.24g which is equivalent to 4% DV
- Carbohydrates: 6.79g
- Sugars: 2.38g
- Calcium: 2mg
- Copper: 0.142mg which is equivalent to 16% DV
- Iron: 0.41mg
- Magnesium: 20mg
- Manganese: 0.23mg
- Phosphorus: 112mg which is equivalent to 16% DV
- Potassium: 304mg which is equivalent to 6% DV
- Selenium: 5.7µg which is equivalent to 10% DV
- Sodium: 9mg
- Zinc: 1.03mg
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamin):0.015mg which is equivalent to 1% DV
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): 0.217mg which is equivalent to 17% DV
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin): 3.877mg which is equivalent to 24% DV
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid): 1.5mg which is equivalent to 30% DV
- Vitamin B6: 0.293mg
- Vitamin B9 (Folate): 13µg
- Vitamin D2: 0.4µg
- Omega-3 fatty acids: 3mg
- Omega-6 fatty acids: 31g
Shiitakes contain many of the same essential amino acids as those found in meat. You won’t typically find them in other plant-based protein sources. They are also chock-full of lipids, sterols, terpenoids, and polysaccharides, all of which have powerful cancer-fighting, cholesterol-lowering, and immune-enhancing properties.
The fact that they are also low in calories and carbs makes them the perfect addition to any meal or diet.
One thing to keep in mind is that the levels of bioactive compounds in shiitake mushrooms vary depending on the cultivation methods used to grow them, the storage and the preparation techniques. Dried shiitakes, for instance, have a higher nutritional composition than fresh ones.
Health Benefits of Shiitake Mushrooms
You can consume shiitakes in two main forms – as whole foods or taken as supplements. You can cook fresh whole shiitakes or use the dried variety although the latter is more popular.
Dried shiitakes have a more intense umami flavor and aroma than their fresh counterparts. Alternatively, you can consume them as a mushroom-based supplement, although some of the ones on the market may not have yet been tested for potency.
So, we recommend consuming them in whole or dried form to reap the maximum nutritional benefits that come from them. With that in mind, here are the top 5 health benefits of making Shiitakes a staple in your diet.
1. Promotes Good Cardiovascular Health
Shiitake mushrooms are rich in Beta-glucan – a type of soluble fiber. This compound plays a critical role in reducing the levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol present in the blood.
They are also rich in Potassium, which is excellent in reducing and managing blood pressure among hypertensive individuals. The fact that they are also naturally low in sodium, and completely free of saturated fats, makes them the perfect ingredient for heart-healthy foods.
2. Has Cancer-Fighting Properties
The high number of polysaccharides present in Shiitakes is what gives them their cancer-fighting properties. Lentinan, for instance, activates the body’s immune system to obliterate cancerous tumors before they become problematic.
Studies have also shown shiitake to be quite effective in inhibiting the growth and spread of promyelocytic leukemia cells.
3. Boosts Immunity
In a 2015 randomized trial to investigate the effects of Shiitake mushrooms on the immune system when consumed daily, the results were nothing short of astonishing.
The individuals who consumed two dried Shiitakes daily not only showed drastic improvement in their immune markers, but their inflammation levels also dropped significantly.
Making these mushrooms a part of your daily diet may well help to improve your immune system function.
4. Reduces the Risk of Nutritional Deficiencies Among Vegans and Vegetarians
A plant-based diet is a great way to enhance your longevity and reduce the risk of diseases associated with eating meat like heart disease, hypertension, osteoporosis, and Type-2 diabetes.
Unfortunately, vegan or vegetarian diets can also result in nutritional deficiencies of beneficial compounds that you typically get from animal products. The most common ones include zinc and essential amino acids.
Consuming shiitakes regularly significantly reduces the risk of suffering from these deficiencies since they contain both these nutrients.
5. Promotes Good Dental Health
Shiitake mushrooms have been shown to be helpful in reducing the buildup of “bad” bacteria in the mouth that often come about when plaque accumulates in the teeth and gum.
These bacteria are responsible for causing bad breath and causing damage to gum tissue, which could lead to oral diseases like periodontitis or gingivitis. Consuming these mushrooms regularly promotes good dental health in general.
Have Them Any Way You Like
To reap the full array of Shiitake mushroom nutrition benefits, consider incorporating them into stir-fry dishes or sautéing them and using them as a topping to your favorite entrées. You could also grill them if you like.
Alternatively, you could dry them and grind them into a fine powder and use it as a condiment. Their umami flavor is the perfect complement to savory dishes. There’s no end to the number of ways you can have them. The choice is yours.
Can you eat raw mushrooms? Check out our blog to find out. The answer may surprise you!
And read our article about reishi mushrooms to learn more about a medicinal mushroom that has been used since ancient times.
Lastly, take a look at our article Medicinal Mushrooms You Can Cook With to learn about some other common mushroom types that are used medicinally.
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