Shiitake mushrooms originated from Asia and have a prominent place in Asian medical traditions as it is considered a symbol of longevity.  This is because of their therapeutic value and the various health benefits that one can have from shiitake mushrooms.  Aside from being a staple in many Asian dishes, shiitake mushrooms also figure in a number of Mediterranean diet recipes.

Recent scientific research supporting the numerous health benefits that shiitake mushrooms have had been making them more popular.  This has been boosting the demand for shiitake mushrooms that’s why they are also increasingly cultivated in many countries and are increasingly becoming available in the broader market nowadays.  They are even available the whole year round in many cities around the world.

Shiitakes, like other mushrooms, are actually fungi and not vegetables as many people would think.  They have brown and slightly convex caps around two to four inches in diameter and have the scientific name Lentinus edodes.  The shiitake mushroom variety is meaty and has a rich and smoky flavor, making them a welcome addition in many recipes.

If you are wondering about the health benefits that shiitake mushroom can give you, here are some of them:

It Is Good For Your Heart.  High cholesterol levels are bad not only for the heart but also for a person’s overall cardiovascular and body health.  Shiitake mushrooms, on the other hand, have an active component that lowers cholesterol level.  This compound is eritadenine, a compound that was proven effective in lowering any type of dietary fats in lab animals.  Even with the introduction of dietary protein rich in methionine, which causes an increase in the formation of cholesterol buildup, eritadenine can still lower cholesterol levels in the blood in a dose-dependent manner.  This means that the more eritadenine you consume, the more your cholesterol levels will drop.

It Can Help Fight Cancer.  Shiitake mushrooms have an active compound called lentinan that is responsible for their many legendary health benefits.  It is a polysaccharide that is said to be a branched beta-glucan.  It is said to help fight cancer.  In a study, lentinan was given for human gastric cancer and it developed reticular fibers in tumor sites.  Reticular cells are immune cells that has the capability of ingesting particulate matter, phagocytose bacteria, and worn out or cancerous cells.  Reticular cells are spread throughout the body and in various tissues.

The introduction of lentinan for human gastric cancer is said to help the proliferation of reticular cells in the tumor sites in the gastric area.  Moreover, many T lymphocytes, a type of immune defender, were also drawn to the cancer site.  They, in turn, help in fragmenting and destroying the cancer cell nests.

It Invigorates Your Immune System.  The positive effect of shiitake mushrooms to your immune system is mostly due to lentinan.  Lentinan, aside from having the capability to help fight cancer, can also power up your immune system and strengthen its ability to fight disease and infection.  Lentinan is also said to more effective than prescription drugs in tackling influenza and other viruses.  Some studies also suggest that it can help improve the immune status of people infected with human immunodeficiency virus or HIV.

It Is A Good Source Of An Antioxidant.  In 2005, an American research team presented at the American Chemical Society meeting that shiitake mushrooms are rich sources of L-ergothioneine, a powerful antioxidant.  The research team revealed that higher concentrations of L-ergothioneine can be found in shiitake mushrooms than what can be found in wheat germ and chicken liver, the two dietary sources previously believed to contain the most L-ergothioneine.  Another good thing about this is that the antioxidant L-ergothioneine is not destroyed during the cooking process.

…try these mushies, you’ll like them,

Ray Baker