The Amazing Fungus Called Shiitake
The shiitake mushroom has primordial origins and most revered for its health-boosting properties, hence, its use in antiquated medicine. The mushrooms have no roots, no leaves, no blossoms, or seeds, so they fall into a special category: fungus. They are sought after for their rich texture and smoky flavor, in fact more flavorful than the most readily available and cultivated edible mushrooms in the world, the white button mushrooms. When shiitakes are dried and reconstituted by soaking, their flavors intensify the more.
Japan used to be the leader in world production of shiitake mushrooms though China holds that post now – 80% of supplies. However, there are hundreds of US growers that use the superior “forest farming” method to produce shiitake mushrooms on hardwood logs. Elsewhere, the mushrooms are mass-cultivated, using pesticides and fungicides. So better look at labels saying that the product is certified organic.
The vitamins and minerals in shiitakes are unique than other foods. Copper in the mushrooms are 65% of the daily value per serving, one of the few metallic elements essential to human health. Few people eat copper-rich foods, leading to a copper deficiency that can be a factor in coronary heart disease development.
Shiitakes also provide 52% pantothenic acid and 51% selenium of the daily value. Riboflavin, niacin, zinc, and manganese play supportive roles, along with ergothioneine, an antioxidant that inhibits oxidative stress. They also have strong compounds that discourage inflammation, tumors, “bad” bacteria, harmful viruses, and other fungus. Vitamins B2, B5 and B6 are also present, providing energy by breaking down fats, carbs, and proteins.
There is a study showing the cancer-preventing properties of the mushrooms due to a potent antifungal protein found in them – lentinan. This protein slowed down the development of smaller tumors after oral treatment with lentinan. Another study found that the spores of shiitake mushrooms can have protective abilities on the liver, suppress inflammation, and even have cancer-preventive properties for patients with chronic hepatitis. (Original Article)
Shiitake In Your Diet in Bellevue
When you dine at Flo, your Japanese restaurant in Bellevue, request for your grilled and organic shiitake mushrooms; ours is lightly seasoned. It’s one of our most requested items on the menu. Eat delicious and eat healthy. Remember, it’s good for the heart.