Shiitake mushrooms are the second most cultivated mushroom in the world because of their exceptional qualities. They have been used for medicinal purposes by the Chinese for more than 6,000 years. It was not until recently that the Western world has taken interest on making the Shiitake a part of their meals. In fact, the popularity of Shiitake mushrooms has skyrocketed to the extent they can be purchased in average grocery stores.
The shiitake mushroom is characterized by a medium-sized brown cap that resembles an umbrella. Its underside stem is white, while the edges of its cap roll inwards. Shiitake is usually found on fallen broad leaf trees but can also be grown commercially. The Japanese cultivate these mushrooms by cutting shii trees and placing logs beside trees upon which shiitake mushrooms have already sprouted. Shiitake can only be found in the mountainous regions of Japan, China, Indonesia, and Taiwan. It’s virtually impossible to find a wild shiitake mushroom in the forests of North America.
Shiitake mushroom is a favorite among vegetarians because of its meaty and chewy texture. It’s often sautéed or used as a soup ingredient because it complements almost every dish. Cooking shiitake, whether dried or fresh, is simple, and you don’t have to be a first-class chef to make a dish out of it. However, what’s enticing about eating shiitake mushrooms is not their taste, but the plethora of health benefits one can receive.
Recent studies have shown that shiitake mushroom contains the beta-glucan lentinan, which is used to treat cancers of the bowel, liver, lung, and stomach. Lentinan works in such a way that it hastens the production of beneficial cancer-killing cells. Studies in Japan have also found out that the mushroom is loaded with powerful antioxidants like Vitamins A (for good eyesight), C (for tissue growth and repair), D (for better absorption of calcium and good metabolism), and E (for skin care).
shiitake mushroom is also said to reduce cholesterol, making it an ideal part of every dieter’s meal. Losing weight is much easier with shiitake as a 100g serving of the mushroom only contains only 34 calories, which you can easily burned in a four-minute jog. Since the key to a good weight loss plan is to burn more calories than what you eat, it’s definitely a must-have on a meal.
Healthy living used to be a far away dream for many. Luckily, shiitake mushroom can help jumpstart your healthy lifestyle resolutions for 2012. Discover the other health benefits of mushrooms and start eating your way to a healthier you.