Every few years, new trends emerge and become a force in the wellness community. One of those trends is functional mushrooms.
Although, when you look more closely at these fantastic fungi, you’ll understand that they are in no way a “fad.” Functional mushrooms, which bestow health benefits beyond nutrition, have been used for millennia in Asian cultures. Finally, the Western world is catching on to their health value.
There are thousands of mushroom varieties, but only a handful are considered truly “functional,” meaning they have proven medicinal benefit. Some you might be familiar with are Reishi, Lion’s Mane, and Chaga. The most common is Shiitake.
History of Shiitakes
For centuries, Shiitake mushrooms have been a valued food source in Asia. Today, they’re one of the most widely cultivated edible mushrooms in the world. Their meaty texture and woodsy flavor make them a fantastic addition to soups, salads, and stir-fries.
The Shiitake mushroom is also a functional mushroom power player. It’s loaded with vitamins, minerals, and other bioactive elements like beta-glucan and polysaccharides. (1) These elements give them the ability to assist your immune system in fighting infections. (2)
A study done by the University of Florida found that eating 4 oz of shiitakes every day for four weeks improved T-cell proliferation and increased levels of natural killer T-cells and their function, resulting in improved immunity. (3)
Studies have also shown Shiitakes to help control blood sugar levels, support digestive health, and reduce inflammation. (3,4,5) That’s right — every one of these health boosters comes from eating Shiitake mushrooms.
Where to find & How to use Shiitakes
Fortunately, you don’t have to forage in the forest to find Shiitakes. They are sold both fresh and dehydrated at health food stores across America. Dehydrated versions work just as well as fresh in soups and sauces.
Now, there are numerous ways you can include Shiitakes in your diet. A few delicious ideas are:
· Add to every soup and salad.
· Sauté shiitakes with onions and spinach and fold into an omelet.
· Sauté with green beans for a healthy side dish.
· Make a Shiitake-Veggie Stir-fry (pea pods, onions, and red peppers work well) on top of brown rice.
Or you can use the quick and easy recipe below.
Quick Sautéed Shiitake Recipe
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
8 oz. Shiitake mushrooms with stems removed*
¼ cup teriyaki, 1 tablespoon oyster sauce, or a dash of fish sauce depending on your preferred taste
* Shittake stems can be too tough to eat, but they are very flavorful. Save the stems to flavor vegetable broth.
1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook until golden brown and tender, about 8 minutes.
2. Add 2 tbsp of water to the skillet, tossing mushrooms, until water evaporates, about 2 minutes.
3. Transfer mushrooms to a bowl and toss with either teriyaki or oyster sauce.
Shiitake mushroom supplements are an excellent choice if you’re looking for an all-natural supplement that supports your immune system, cardiovascular, and digestive health.
Stonehenge Health’s Dynamic Mushrooms uses a high-quality Shiitake extract plus four additional functional mushrooms – including Lion’s Mane, Chaga, Reishi, and Maitake. A daily dose promotes healthy immune function, boosts cognitive function, helps reduce stress, and supports your overall well-being.
1. A Review on General Nutritional Compounds and Pharmacological Properties of the Lentinula edodes Mushroom (scirp.org)
2. Lentinula edodes-derived polysaccharide enhances systemic and mucosal immunity by spatial modulation of intestinal gene expression in mice – PubMed (nih.gov)
3. Consuming Lentinula edodes (Shiitake) Mushrooms Daily Improves Human Immunity: A Randomized Dietary Intervention in Healthy Young Adults: Journal of the American College of Nutrition: Vol 34, No 6 (tandfonline.com)