How much do you know about Shiitake mushroom benefits?
Three Shiitake mushroom benefits that’ll have you falling even more in love with this popular and tasty mushroom
If you were a contestant on Family Feud and had to name a popular mushroom variety, Shiitake would likely earn you some high-fives from your teammates. That’s because Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) mushrooms are the second most-consumed mushrooms after button/cremini/portobellos, which are technically all the same type.
Shiitakes are delicious and packed with umami, and a texture that ranges from tender when fresh to meaty when cooked after being dried. Shiitake mushroom benefits are plentiful, so make room for the “oak mushroom” on your plate. (Shiia is a Japanese oak.)
The most common Shiitake mushroom benefits are immune health, healthy cholesterol within normal ranges, antioxidant support, skin health and liver support.*
What are Shiitake mushrooms?
Shiitake grows on fallen broadleaf trees across China, Japan, and other Asian countries with temperate climates, and you can also find — or grow — them in the US. Shiitake has been used as food and supplements for thousands of years in Japan and China.
Shiitake is the second most-studied mushroom after turkey tail. It’s been used traditionally and in modern times to support the immune system, the liver (thereby also promoting healthy skin), and the cardiovascular system.*
You can find fresh or dried Shiitake mushrooms at most supermarkets, and they’re also readily available in supplement form. They look like a typical mushroom, with a brown cap and white or cream stem, serrated gills and white spores. The caps are succulent and flavorful when cooked. (And always, always cook your mushrooms!) While their stems are edible, they are tough and stringy, so save them for soups or stock.
3 Shiitake mushroom benefits worth remembering
Shiitake mushroom benefits #1: They’re nutritious.
Mushrooms are low in calories, and they provide fiber, carbohydrates and protein, as well as numerous essential vitamins and minerals. Just four dried Shiitake mushrooms provide:
- 44 calories
- 11 grams carbohydrates
- 2 grams fiber
- 1 gram protein
- Copper: 39% of the Daily Value
- Folate: 6% DV
- Manganese: 9% DV
- Niacin: 11% DV
- Riboflavin: 11% of DV
- Selenium: 10% DV
- Vitamin B5: 33% DV
- Vitamin B6: 7% DV
- Vitamin D: 6% DV
- Zinc: 8% DV
Shiitake benefits #2: They support immune health.*
Historically, Shiitake mushrooms were widely used to support immune health in China and Japan, for everything from acute responses to cellular support.(1)* In recent decades, Shiitake fruiting body extract (lentinan) has been extensively researched and used. The lentinan in Shiitake supports white blood cells and offers antioxidant support for the immune system.*(2)
Shiitake benefits #3: They contain vitamin D — rare for non-animal foods.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s essential for humans. That means that we need it, but our bodies can’t make it on their own. That’s why we consume it via supplements, food or beverages. Most food sources of vitamin D come from animals, but mushrooms uniquely provide this essential nutrient, especially if they are exposed to UV light.(3)
Your body requires vitamin D to absorb calcium, which is needed for bone health, as well as healthy cell growth and immune function.*