These local log grown no spray mushrooms are prized for their rich, savory taste and diverse health benefits.
Compounds in shiitakes may help fight cancer, boost immunity and support heart health.
This article explains everything you need to know about shiitake mushrooms.
What Are Shiitake Mushrooms?
Shiitakes are edible mushrooms native to East Asia.
They're tan to dark brown in color and the caps usually grow to between 2 and 4 inches (5 and 10 centimeters).
While typically used as vegetables, shiitakes are actually a fungus that grows naturally on decaying hardwood trees.
Bottom Line: Shiitake mushrooms are brown-capped mushrooms used around the world for food and as supplements.
Nutrition Profile of Shiitake Mushrooms
Shiitakes are low in calories. They also offer good amounts of fiber, as well as B vitamins and some minerals.
Here are the nutrients you get in four dried shiitakes (15 grams):
- Calories: 44.
- Carbs: 11 grams.
- Fiber: 2 grams.
- Protein: 1 gram.
- Riboflavin: 11 percent of the RDI.
- Niacin: 11 percent of the RDI.
- Copper: 39 percent of the RDI.
- Vitamin B5: 33 percent of the RDI.
- Selenium: 10 percent of the RDI.
- Manganese: 9 percent of the RDI.
- Zinc: 8 percent of the RDI.
- Vitamin B6: 7 percent of the RDI.
- Folate: 6 percent of the RDI.
- Vitamin D: 6 percent of the RDI.
In addition, shiitakes contain many of the same amino acids as meat.
They also contain polysaccharides, terpenoids, sterols and lipids linked to immune-boosting, cholesterol-lowering and anti-cancer effects.
Bottom Line: Shiitake mushrooms are low in calories. They also offer many vitamins, minerals and other health-promoting compounds.
How Are They Used?
Shiitake mushrooms have two main uses: as food and as supplements.
Shiitakes as Whole Foods
You can cook with both fresh and dried shiitakes, although the dried mushrooms are slightly more popular.
Dried shiitakes have an umami flavor that's even more intense than when they're fresh.
Umami means savory and delicious. It is described as the "fifth taste" along with sweet, sour, bitter and salty.
Both dried and fresh shiitake mushrooms are used in stir-fries, soups, stews and other dishes.
Shiitakes as Supplements
Shiitake mushrooms have long been used in traditional Chinese medicine.
They're also part of the medical traditions of Japan, Korea and Eastern Russia.
In Chinese medicine, shiitakes are thought to boost health and longevity, as well as improve circulation.
Modern studies have found shiitake mushrooms' bioactive compounds may offer some protection against cancer and inflammation.
Although the proposed benefits are promising, you should consider them with a grain of salt.