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Shiitake Mushrooms: 8 Benefits & Uses

Shiitake mushrooms are the second most popular mushroom and the third most widely cultivated edible mushroom in the world. Their health benefits vary, and include being antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal. Learn more about shiitake mushroom benefits by reading the list below.

Here are 8 shiitake mushroom benefits:

1. Fight Obesity

Shiitake mushroom benefits start with the ability to help fight obesity. This is due to certain components the shiitake mushroom contains such as eritadenine and b-glucan. These components are also found in barley, rye and oats, and have hypolipidemic effects. This means they can help reduce fat. Furthermore, b-glucan can increase satiety, reduce intake of food, delay nutrition absorption as well as reduce fat levels. The Journal of Obesity examined shiitake mushroom benefits, as well. In a 2011 study, they found that rats who consumed a high amount of shiitake mushrooms while eating a high-fat diet had 25 percent lower body weight gains than rats on low and medium shiitake mushroom diets. (1)

2. Support Immune Function

Also on the list of shiitake mushroom benefits is the ability to boost the immune system. A 2015 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that consuming shiitake mushrooms helps improve cell effector function as well as gut immunity. Furthermore, researchers saw a reduction of inflammation due to mushroom consumption. (2)

3. Destroy Cancer Cells

Shiitake mushroom benefits continue with the ability to fight cancer. Research indicates that the lentinan in shiitakes help heal chromosome damage brought on by anticancer treatments. Furthermore, these mushrooms may help fight cancer cells, as well. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine also found that shiitake mushrooms are among great cancer-fighting foods. They published a study in 2006 that examined the roles of an ethyl acetate fraction from shiitake mushrooms. Researchers found that shiitake mushrooms were able to inhibit growth in tumor cells with mycohemical value. Furthermore, these mushrooms were able to induct apoptosis, which is the process of programmed cell death. (3) shiitake mushroom benefits

4. Support Cardiovascular Health

Thanks to the phytonutrients content, shiitake mushroom benefits include protecting your heart. These phytonutrients help keep cells from sticking to blood vessel walls and developing a buildup of plague. In turn, this maintains healthy blood pressure as well as improves circulation, lending itself to cardiovascular health. Furthermore, researchers at Tohoku University in Japan conducted a study wherein they found that shiitake mushrooms can prevent blood pressure increase in hypertensive rats. (4)

5. Contain Antimicrobial Properties

As mentioned above, shiitake mushroom benefits include the content of antimicrobial agents. A 2011 study found that shiitake’s antimicrobial properties to be effective against gingivitis. In fact, these properties were able to lower the number of some pathogenic organisms without affecting the organisms associated with health. Chlorhexidine, a common ingredient in many mouthwashes, can also kill these pathogenic organisms, but also kills the good organisms. (5)

6. Boost Energy and Brain Function

Shiitake mushroom benefits include boosting your energy, as well. This is due to the content of B vitamins, which can support adrenal function, turning nutrients into usable energy. Furthermore, B vitamins can help balance hormones and can break through the brain fog that may be dragging you down. Essentially, if you're having a hard time concentrating, try adding shiitake mushrooms to your diet to help improve cognitive function.

7. Provide Vitamin D

While the preferable source of vitamin D is the sun, not everyone lives where there is an ample supply of sunshine. However, shiitake mushroom benefits include a good dose of vitamin D. This is crucial for bone health as well as for reducing the risk of numerous diseases. For example, vitamin D can help reduce risk of heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and some cancer types. Furthermore, it’s important for the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorus, as well.

8. Promote Skin Health

If you take selenium along with vitamins A and E, you can greatly reduce the severity of acne as well as scarring from acne. And the good news is shiitake mushrooms contain 8 percent of your daily recommended selenium intake. To combat acne, consume plenty of shiitake mushrooms as well as other food sources rich in selenium, vitamin A and vitamin E.