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Hands holding shiitake mushrooms for shiitake mushroom benefits.

Shiitake Mushroom Benefits: Best Ways to Incorporate Into Your Diet

October 05, 2022

You’ve probably enjoyed them in delicious, savory dishes at your favorite restaurant, but did you know that shiitake mushrooms have health benefits as well? In fact, these functional mushrooms have been used as medicine by traditional healers for centuries. And with their increasing global availability, more and more countries are beginning to understand shiitake’s true power.

As researchers continue to discover the bioactive compounds hidden in your favorite foods, the concept of food as medicine is slowly gaining traction. When delicious foods also provide added health benefits, people tend to enjoy them more. To learn more about shiitake mushroom benefits, check out these interesting facts and ways to incorporate them into your diet.

6 Interesting Facts About Shiitake Mushrooms

Known for their meaty texture and slightly smoky flavor, shiitake mushrooms have the dual distinction of being both a delicious culinary ingredient and a beneficial superfood. Native to Asia but now cultivated around the world, shiitake are known as Lentinula edodes in the scientific community. Here are some more interesting facts about them:

  1. The Japanese name “shiitake” comes from the shii tree on which they grow. In China, it is called “xiānggū,” which translates to fragrant mushroom.
  2. The earliest cultivation of shiitake is believed to have occurred during the Song Dynasty in China between 1000 and 1100 AD.  
  3. Shiitake mushrooms have one of the highest copper contents of any food by weight. Copper is an essential micronutrient for red blood cell, collagen, and energy production. It also plays a role in supporting healthy nervous and immune systems.
  4. Shiitake is the second most popular culinary mushroom in the world, behind the white button mushroom family (button, cremini, and portobello—all developmental stages of the same species).
  5. Fresh shiitake, sometimes called “black” mushrooms, are a staple in Chinese cuisine and often included in stir-fries and miso soup.
  6. Shiitake are also turning up as vegetable charcuterie when fresh mushrooms are thinly sliced, cured, and smoked.

Shiitake are among a group of mushrooms known as functional or medicinal. Their position in the food chain endows them with unique characteristics and benefits that you won’t find in plant and animal food sources. This has implications for anyone looking to improve their health and wellness through diet. 

Shiitake Mushroom Benefits for Health and Wellness

As a functional mushroom, shiitake’s benefits go beyond simple nutrition. These health powerhouses boast a wealth of beneficial properties when included in your daily meal plan, such as the following:

Better Oral and Digestive Health

Beginning in the mouth and continuing through your intestines, shiitake is good for the digestive system. The biologically active components of this mushroom support oral health by altering the growth of microorganisms in your mouth. By increasing the amount of helpful organisms and discouraging the growth of harmful ones, shiitake provides support for teeth and gums. Regular use may help you avoid cavities and gingivitis.

In addition, shiitake mushrooms aid digestion by providing prebiotic fiber needed to feed the bacteria in your gut. When your body’s microorganisms are properly balanced, healthy digestion is supported. Consuming fiber regularly can help keep you feeling full longer, maintain a healthy microbiome in the gut, control your appetite, and regulate the body’s absorption of sugar and cholesterol.

Improved Immune System

Shiitake provides polysaccharides to support the immune system. Research on healthy young adults suggests that the mushroom can provide benefits for both cellular and humoral immunity in as little as four weeks of supplementation. Shiitake also supports the body’s response to inflammation.

Improved Cardiovascular Health

High cholesterol is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Shiitake contains eritadenine, a bioactive compound that supports healthy blood cholesterol levels. In addition, this unique mushroom promotes optimal blood pressure. By helping to keep cholesterol and blood pressure in healthy ranges, shiitake can be a useful and nutritious way to support your cardiovascular health.

Incorporating Shiitake Into Your Diet Is Easy

Shiitake is available fresh or dried, as an extract, or as a powder. If you find fresh mushrooms at your local market, the caps can be stir-fried with your favorite protein and assorted veggies. When cooking fresh shiitake, the woodsy stems are best removed and used to flavor stocks and sauces.

Dried shiitakes are useful for adding umami to broths, stocks, and ramen bowls. This important flavor element is popular in various cuisines across the Asian continent. Many recipes combine the deep flavor of dried mushrooms with the meaty texture of fresh shiitake by incorporating both into a single dish.

But if you’re looking for a quick and convenient way to add shiitake to your regimen, Om Mushroom® can help you easily incorporate this superfood into your diet. Our Mighty Broth products contain a healthy dose of shiitake mushroom along with protein—making them the perfect additions to any meal or snack. Packaged for convenience and portability in single-serving packets, just one small daily dose provides nutritional and bioactive support for your body.

While shiitake takes the lead in these delicious broths, its benefits are bolstered by the inclusion of additional mushroom species, such as king trumpet, lion’s mane, maitake, reishi, and turkey tail. Besides the previously mentioned benefits of shiitake, you can check out Om’s Mighty Mushroom Broth for brain, nervous system, joint, bone, skin, hair, and nail support too. Its inclusion of adaptogens can help with stress management while the antioxidants promote healthy aging.  

Mighty Broth is available in four varieties: Mighty Mushroom Broth, Mighty Veggie Miso Broth, Mighty Chicken Bone Broth, and Mighty Beef Bone Broth. When mixed into hot water, each packet yields a warm, savory broth that features shiitake and much more. Shiitake mushroom benefits for digestive, heart, and immune health make this mushroom more than just a tasty addition to your favorite dish. No wonder they’re so popular!

Another Om product that spotlights the benefits of shiitake is our Mushroom Master Blend. Just one small scoop of Master Blend powder stirred into a beverage or incorporated into a recipe each day provides a high-quality source of shiitake along with 9 other functional mushrooms. This powerful superfood blend is further enhanced with the addition of 3 botanical adaptogens and standardized reishi extract. The inclusion of multiple mushroom species promotes resilience in the face of physical, mental, and emotional stress. It also provides optimal immune support. If you prefer to get your daily dose of shiitake in convenient capsules, Master Blend is also available in this popular format.

Om Mushroom Superfood® offers specially curated products with shiitake mushroom benefits. Created from functional, whole food, organic mushrooms, our Mighty Broths provide delicious support for your health and wellness goals while Master Blend promotes superior adaptogenic and immune support. To take advantage of the benefits of functional mushroom products, shop now or subscribe to save!

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Functional mushroom products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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