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The Benefits of Shiitake Mushroom

The small brown shiitake mushroom is indigenous to Asia, but has made its way into America’s kitchens and medicine cabinets. The earthy, smoky flavor of the fungi adds depth to stir fries, soups, pastas and vegetarian dishes, and is not only tasty but beneficial to your health. Ask your doctor before using large quantities of shiitake mushrooms or supplements to be sure they are safe for your medical condition.
Boosts Immune Function,

The nutrients in shiitake mushrooms can boost your immune function, decreasing risk of infection and even improving symptoms of some illnesses, including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The World’s Healthiest Foods, an information resource associated with the George Mateljan Foundation, reports that shiitake mushrooms are high in several essential nutrients, including protein, iron and antioxidant vitamin C. These nutrients, as well as a compound called lentinan, can keep your immune system strong and resistant to infection in some cases. The active ingredients in shiitake mushrooms may also lower cholesterol levels, when eaten as part of a healthy, varied diet.
Protects Against Cancer

Lentinan, a compound in shiitake mushrooms, plays a role in protecting your body against cancer, as well as treating cancerous tumors, according to the American Cancer Society. Used primarily in traditional Asian medicine, shiitake mushrooms, either eaten as the vegetable or taken in the form of supplements, may slow or even reverse the progression of tumor growth, and can keep your body from replicating viruses that cause other serious illness, such as hepatitis.
Improves Appearance of Skin

Applying shiitake mushroom extract to your skin may improve its appearance, according to Beauty products aimed at lightening your skin may contain mushroom extract because of its concentration of kojic acid, a natural alternative to hydroquinone, a chemical that bleaches your skin to fade scars and age spots. The antioxidant effects of shiitake are not limited to protecting your internal organs–skin creams and lotions that list mushroom extract as an ingredient may be able to minimize inflammation of the skin.

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The Versatile Shiitake Mushroom

The Versatile Shiitake Mushroom

The Shiitake Mushroom is quite versatile in that it is raised and it is consumed amongst individuals in Asian countries. It is also dried and then exported to other countries all over the world. However, it is not just used for medicinal purposes, but it is also used in Japanese, Chinese, Thai, and Korean cuisines. It is native to China, but has also been grown in Japan since prehistoric times. The first written record of the cultivation of Shiitake was approximately 1,000 years ago.

Shiitake in the Kitchen

In the kitchen, Shiitake can be fresh or it can be dried. They are frequently found in vegetarian dishes in China and found in soup in Japan. However, Shiitake is frequently found pre-packaged, which means they have to be rehydrated before they are consumed. Some individuals do prefer them dried over being fresh because the superior flavor is drawn out and the proteins are turned into amino acids. Furthermore, egosterol is turned into Vitamin D, making this mushroom something that is delicious and nutritional. Nevertheless, it isn’t just the nutrition factor that draws people to it. It is the fact that this mushroom has 10 times the taste of regular white button mushrooms.

Another aspect to the drying of Shiitake Mushrooms is that the drying process allows for them to be stored indefinitely. Just know that they do not sauté well, but work fantastically in soups, gravies, stews, and baked dishes. This is more or less a delicacy to many because of the fantastic taste, which is why many crave to have these mushrooms in their kitchen. Because they keep for long periods of time and can be rejuvenated simply by putting them in water, they are a very versatile food with a lot of healthy qualities. It’s especially helpful that Shiitake has a high Vitamin D content when dried.

Medicinal Uses

The medicinal effects of Shiitake Mushrooms have been researched and it has been found that they do have an anti-tumor effect in laboratory mice. Part of this is due to the presence of a polysaccharide called lentinan, which is a D-glucan. These are complex sugars that have an impact on the overall performance of the immune system.

Extracts from Shiitake mushrooms have also been researched for their immune system benefits. These benefits range from treatments to severe allergies to anti-viral effects. There is also evidence that Shiitake mushrooms have an incredible impact on arthritis. For thrombosis, Shiitake is commonly used because of a key flavor compound within it called Lenthionine that allows platelet aggregation.

In addition to the anti-tymor effect, lentinan stimulates the immune system in order to strengthen its defenses against cancer, fungal infections, and viruses. There have been clinical trials that state lentinans can increase the chance of survival of people with stomach cancer, colon cancer, and breast cancer.

As for how many Shiitake mushrooms you should intake to take advantage of the cancer fighting effects, you should consume around 5g and 15g per day. Just make sure they are not consumed in large doses because large doses have been known to cause upset stomach. Women who are pregnant or who are breast feeding should not consume shiitake mushrooms.

Shiitake in Cosmetics

Shiitake is even being incorporated into skin creams in order to tighten and brighten the skin. This is because they contain what is called Kojic acid. What that acid does is prevent the formation of melanin I the skin. This makes for a brighter complexion. The astringent quality of the acid also helps the skin tighten, which makes it look more youthful. These skin creams have proven to be quite popular amongst those looking to try something more natural.

So if you’re interested in incorporating the benefits of Shiitake Mushrooms into your life, it is very easy. You may be able to find them at your local food mart or you can order some dried Shiitake Mushrooms online. Be sure to look for skin creams containing Shiitake so that you can enjoy the benefits of Kojic acid. Most importantly, enjoy the benefits that Shiitake provides the immune system so that you can be proactive in halting cancer and other diseases that compromise your immune system. At least while you do it you can enjoy the taste and the joy these mushrooms bring. Just make sure you consult with your doctor if you are taking other supplements or if you have any diagnosed health conditions. If you feel that you may have a condition, still consult with your doctor to ensure that you receive the proper treatment and can find out if taking Shiitake Mushrooms is for you. These mushrooms have been used for centuries in cuisines and for medicinal purposes before they could even be researched. It was just because these people knew. They had experienced the effects and knew what these mushrooms are capable of.

The Power Within the Mushroom
By Omid Jaffari