Spotlight on Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake Mushrooms (lentinula edodes) are the second most cultivated mushrooms, the button mushroom being the first. Are there any benefits to eating mushrooms or should the fungus be left where it grows?

I like the Shiitake because it is a meaty mushroom that doesn’t get all wet and slimy when you cook it. While we call them vegetables, they don’t synthesize their own food like plants do. They are a fungi and live on their food source.


Where Are Shiitake Grown

Mostly, they are grown in sawdust and grain because it is the cheapest way to grown them. Mushrooms can also be grown on logs which makes them more potent, but it is more expensive. In the wild, they grow on hardwood trees.


Nutritional Information

Shiitake contain 7 of 8 essential amino acids. (amino acids the body can’t make) It does not have detectable levels of Tryptophan.

They are also rich in enzymes, about 30 enzymes, to aide in digestion. These include amylase which breaks down starches in to sugar  and cellulase, to break down plant fiber.

Shiitake contain the essential B vitamins and vitamin D.  Exposing mushrooms to the sun creates more vitamin D in the mushroom.

  • low calorie
  • low glycemic index
  • low fat
  • good source of fiber
  • contains protein
  • low sugar
  • low carb
  • great source of pantothenic acid, copper, selenium and B6
  • very good source of niacin, riboflavin, phosphorus, zinc
  • a food source of vitamin D
  • good source of B vitamins, choline, manganese




Health Benefits

Shiitake have long been considered medicinal mushrooms and can be used as extracts or capsules.

One study showed by examining blood that when mushrooms are cooked there is more activity against pathogens.

Cooking gives the most immune activity and allows the most nutrients to be used by your body.

Cholesterol — Shiitake mushrooms contain eritadenine which helps lower cholesterol by keeping  it from being absorbed into the blood. They also have compounds that interfere with the liver’s production of cholesterol.

Blood pressure — Shiitake have a unique nutrient that may help better regulate blood pressure by preventing blood vessel constriction.

Immunity —  They contain immunomodulators which keeps your immune system stable. Studies have shown that the daily consumption of only 10 grams per day improves immunity and lowers inflammation.

They contain lentinan which stimulate white blood cells.

Cancer — Shiitake mycochemicals were shown to inhibit tumor growth in certain cancers.

Those are a few studies. More studies need to be done, but it does show promise. Some have only been animal studies.





Always cook mushrooms, not only to kill any bacteria, but to breakdown the chitin which is a fiber found in the cell walls of mushrooms. Your body has a hard time digesting this.

Some people get upset stomachs from eating mushrooms raw.

Eating raw shiitake can cause a rash called shiitake dermatitis.

Since it boost the immune system, you may want to avoid them if you have an autoimmune disorder.



Shiitake can be use fresh or dried. Dried forms are commonly found in the Asian supermarkets I’ve been to.

Shiitake should be cooked. Avoid eating them raw. Don’t eat the stems of these mushrooms as they are quite tough.

Alway give your mushrooms a shower, not a bath. You can also just wipe them with a damp paper towel.

They can be dried or frozen.

Use them:IMG_4313

  • omelets and casseroles
  • thinly sliced in soups.
  • sautee them with spinach and other vegetables.
  • stir fry
  • serve as a side dish with beef or other meat
  • use the stems to create a vegetable stock



Some Sources:

Consuming Lentinula edodes (Shiitake) Mushrooms Daily Improves Human Immunity: A Randomized Dietary Intervention in Healthy Young Adults.

Dietary Shiitake Mushroom (Lentinus edodes) Prevents Fat Deposition and Lowers Triglyceride in Rats Fed a High-Fat Diet

Inhibition of growth and induction of apoptosis in human cancer cell lines by an ethyl acetate fraction from shiitake mushrooms.

Mushrooms for Nutrition and Wellness

Mushrooms, shiitake

Isokauppila, Tero. Healing Mushrooms: A Practical and Culinary Guide to Using Mushrooms for Whole Body Health

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