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WRITTEN BY Emily Spring
Written By: Emily Spring
Mushrooms like Chagas and Reishis have made strides into mainstream wellness due to their ability to help with boosting immunity, improving focus and more.
But did you know there are powerful mushrooms also in your grocery aisle? We’re looking at you, Shiitake.
Shiitake mushrooms are nutritious, delicious and readily available. These ultra-popular mushrooms have a few added bonuses, too. Frequently used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, these mushrooms for immune defense store many potential benefits for overall wellness.
In this short guide, we’ll go over the top 5 shiitake mushroom benefits and how to incorporate these potent fungi into your daily life.
Are shiitake mushrooms good for you? Simply put, yes.
Shiitakes are native to East Asia, where they grow on the trunks of decaying deciduous trees, like oak, maple and poplar trees). However, they’re easy to cultivate on fallen logs. Harvested since the 11th century in China and Japan, shiitakes are so widely grown that they account for a quarter of commercially-grown fresh mushrooms each year.
Additionally, shiitake mushrooms are nutritious, low in fat and contain the following vitamins and minerals:
Some may assume that powerful adaptogens exist only in rare superfoods. However, in the case of the shiitake mushroom, popularity doesn’t compromise potency.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, shiitakes are used to:
Thanks to the long history of cultivation and use, these mushrooms have been well studied.
Next, we’ll go over the shiitake mushroom benefits with the most scientific evidence.
Like other popular medicinal mushroom types, shiitakes are rich in polysaccharides. Polysaccharides are carbohydrate chains that have an immunity regulating function. In shiitakes, the active polysaccharide is called Lentinan (1,3 beta-D-glucan).
In in vitro, animal and human trials, shiitake mushrooms suggest a number of potentially beneficial immunological effects.
These studies indicate that shiitakes can have immune-boosting benefits in healthy people. From fighting systemic inflammation to improving white blood cell count, shiitake mushrooms may improve immune function on several fronts.
These studies also show that shiitakes provide positive effects whether eaten whole or consumed as an extract, opening up options for fungi fanatics and mushroom skeptics alike.
Many medicinal mushroom polysaccharides are also an ideal food for healthy gut bacteria.
Since around 70% of our immune system lives in our gut, healthy gut bacteria are key to overall health.
But how does it work?
Gut bacteria feed on dietary fiber, making the polysaccharides in shiitakes an ideal food.
Shiitakes’ dietary benefits have been the subject of recent scientific inquiry.
Shiitakes may help to promote a healthy gut microbiome, supporting many wellness goals from clear skin to longevity.
A healthy gut biome helps you efficiently synthesize sugar, fat and other substances that are prevalent in a modern, over-processed diet.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that shiitakes may help to maintain healthy cholesterol and insulin levels.
In combination with a healthy diet and regular exercise, shiitakes may help you maintain healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels, as well as a healthy weight.
It’s never too early to take care of your bones.
Osteopenia and osteoarthritis affect 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men over 50. When we break bones in our older age, the results can be devastating.
One of the best lines of prevention is building up bone strength as a younger adult, since bone mass diminishes slowly as we age.
While eating calcium is still important, supplements like shiitake can help, too.
If you’re looking to support your health at its very foundation, a shiitake mushroom supplement is a promising choice.
These aren’t the only shiitake mushroom health benefits. Other traditional uses are still the subject of scientific research. Nonetheless, potential beneficial effects on the immune system, gut and bones suggest that shiitakes can also:
Now that you’ve read about the benefits of shiitake mushrooms, you’re likely eager to incorporate them into your daily routine.
Luckily, these mushrooms are easy to access in a variety of forms. Whether you’re eating them whole or snacking on mushroom gummies, choose the one that best suits your lifestyle!
Shiitakes are popular and versatile. Pick up a bag at your local grocer or farmers market. Then, gently wash your fresh shiitake mushrooms, remove the stem, and add them to stir fry and soups. You can even use shiitakes as a meat substitute, adding them to ragus and veggie burgers.
Check out Chowhound’s list of the best shiitake recipes for a little inspiration.
Make sure your shiitakes are organic. Some shiitake cultivation takes place on synthetic logs. In this case, shiitakes could incorporate artificial, inorganic particles into their stems and caps as they grow.
Like other adaptogens, shiitakes’ beneficial effects appear most strongly with consistent use. And there are only so many ways to incorporate mushrooms for immunity into your diet!
That’s why we created the new Advanced Immune Power capsule. This vegan, 100% organic dietary supplement is easy to take at the start of your day. It combines the power of dried shiitake mushrooms with other potent mushrooms and superfoods, like:
Pairing Traditional Chinese Medicine herbs and mushrooms with the benefits of Vitamin C, these dietary supplement capsules were formulated to fortify your immune system and promote vitality to help you feel better on a daily basis.
At Plant People, we’re experts in botanical and mushroom support for everyday issues. Our line of premium, organic hemp and herbal supplements are specially formulated to help you live life healthier, whether it’s through getting better sleep, honing your focus, or mitigating stress.
Advanced Immune Power combines our knowledge of herbal remedies with traditional and contemporary evidence on immune-boosting superfoods. Like all of our products, Advanced Immune Power supplements help you feel your best every day.
Written by Emily Spring
Emily Spring is the Director of Marketing at Plant People. A longtime proponent of balanced living, she has enjoyed over 8 years driving growth in the lifestyle, health and wellness sectors with deep experience in functional solutions for optimizing anyone's everyday life.
Reviewed by Gabe Kennedy
Co-Founder of Plant People, Gabe Kennedy is an acclaimed chef and entrepreneur. Growing up in a house of healers and herbalists, he is passionate about the power of food as a tool for health, and actualized this passion and belief system into his company, Plant People. Named to Forbes 30 under 30 Gabe has shaped menus and cooked his way around the world with his mission to promote a more communal, green and healthy world.
Gabe is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. You can learn more about his work at his website.
White Rabbit Institute of Healing. “Shitake.” https://www.whiterabbitinstituteofhealing.com/herbs/shiitake/
Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital. “Lentinan.” https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/lentinan
Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention. “Efficacy of orally administered Lentinula edodes mycelia extract for advanced gastrointestinal cancer patients undergoing cancer chemotherapy: a pilot study.” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22126542/
Journal of the American College of Nutrition. “Consuming Lentinula edodes (Shiitake) Mushrooms Daily Improves Human Immunity: A Randomized Dietary Intervention in Healthy Young Adults.” https://duckduckgo.com/?q=j+am+coll+nu&t=newext&atb=v231-7&ia=web
Food & Function. “Lentinula edodes-derived polysaccharide rejuvenates mice in terms of immune responses and gut microbiota.” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26135107/
European Journal of Nutrition. “Dietary calcium and vitamin D2 supplementation with enhanced Lentinula edodes improves osteoporosis-like symptoms and induces duodenal and renal active calcium transport gene expression in mice.” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19093162/