Shiitake Mushroom Powder Benefits: Fun Facts About This Fun-gi
Shiitake mushrooms for health is no secret in Asian cultures, where these tasty fungi have been used medicinally for around six thousands years. Now we are harnessing the shiitake mushroom powder benefits all over the world.
In recent decades, western countries have caught onto the mushroom craze, not only increasing their consumption but conducting stellar scientific research into their health benefits, too.
Shiitake mushrooms are light brown, with gently curved caps that can grow to 4 inches in diameter. They have a rich, meaty flavour - which makes including them in the diet a treat, rather than a chore.
The name ‘shiitake’ comes from the Japanese words ‘shii’ - referring to the Pasania species of tree on which the mushroom typically grows - and ‘take’ which simply means not surprisingly, mushroom.
If you eat shiitake mushrooms in their natural state they could be one of the most sustainable foods in your diet!
While the majority of shiitake mushrooms produced worldwide have been grown on sawdust block in a non-natural setting, it is entirely possible for shiitake mushrooms to be produced on natural hardwood logs in a forest setting.
This approach to shiitake mushroom production is called "forest farming" and it has become an especially popular way of growing these great little mushrooms.
From forest farming to table, shiitake mushroom powder benefits are certainly widely accessible.
Shiitake Mushroom Powder Benefits: Enzyme Rich And Ready To Go
The nutritional profile of shiitake mushroom is impressive, containing all eight essential amino acids as well as the spectrum of B vitamins, minerals like selenium, zinc, manganese and copper, plus a healthy dose of vitamin D (as plant-based vitamin D2).
Polysaccharides (long, complex sugar molecules) called beta glucans have been paid particular scientific attention for their therapeutic benefits - including immune enhancement, antimicrobial action, gut support and cancer prevention.
Unique to the shiitake mushroom are the compounds lentinan, lentinacin and lentysin.
Specific benefits of shiitake mushroom include enhanced immunity. In fact, shiitake is most famous for its immune system benefits and may:
- Dampen over-active immune responses (as in auto-immunity) and boost the function of immune cells, as required.
- Enhance macrophage activity - a type of white blood cell that has the ability to destroy cancer cells.
Shiitake also contains unique polysaccharides (long chains of sugar molecules) called beta glucans, that exert a range of beneficial effects on the immune system, as well as decreasing inflammation and protecting against the effects of stress, environmental toxins and radiation.
Shiitake Mushroom Powder Benefits: Upping The Ante
There are so many celebrated health benefits available from mushrooms, but the shiitake mushroom has been specifically linked to:
✔ Cardiovascular protection
Shiitake mushroom has been found to:
- Lower cholesterol - lentinacin and other beta-glucans in shiitake mushroom have cholesterol-lowering effects
- Prevent atherosclerosis - factors in shiitake help prevent inflammatory immune responses in blood vessels, linked to atherosclerosis and heart disease.
- Act as an antioxidant - shiitake is high in essential antioxidant minerals such as manganese, selenium, and zinc. It also contains unique phytonutrients such as ergothioneine (ET) which appears to reduce oxidative damage and protect mitochondria.
✔ Anti-cancer effects
There’s a lack of human studies to support shiitake’s anticancer benefits, but preliminary research in animals (plus what we know about its unique nutritional properties) suggests that shiitake mushroom may:
- Encourage apoptosis - programmed cell death.
- Block tumour formation
- Enhance immune activity, destroying cancer cells before they become problematic.
This is likely due to factors such as lentinan - a beta glucan - which may trigger immune cells to attack and destroy cancer cells
✔ Anti-obesity effects
Animal studies have shown promising anti-obesity effects of shiitake mushroom. This may be due to:
- Beneficial fibers such as beta-glucan - which promote satiety (feelings of fullness) and healthy gut function.
- Positive effects on cholesterol, blood lipids and the cardiovascular system
- Helping the body excrete, rather than absorb, fat.
- Boosting energy, metabolism and general health.
Other conditions that may be aided by shiitake mushroom powder benefits include:
→ Autoimmune conditions - such as rheumatoid arthritis.
→ HIV/AIDS & Hepatitis B - an extract of shiitake mushroom, called LEM (Lentinula edodes mycelium) shows promise as a treatment for these serious viral infections.
→ Preventing colds and flu - due to immune enhancement.
→ Antiageing - due to antioxidants and anti-cancer effects.
→ Antimicrobial agent - especially against the bacteria that cause gingivitis.
→ Brain cognition - due to high levels of B vitamins, antioxidants, and other co-factors essential for brain health.
→ Skin health and beauty - due to the presence of selenium, zinc and copper in particular.
Dishing Out The Benefits Of Shiitake Mushrooms
Mushrooms, in general, get a bad rap. Admittedly eating the wrong woodland variety has left many a hungry traveller dead over the centuries, but not so with wonderous shiitake mushroom.
Shiitake mushrooms are definitely an acquired taste and are traditionally added to soups and meals for the flavor kick that they pack.
In their refined state it’s easier for those not consuming them regularly to reap all of the shiitake mushroom powder benefits, as there is no established therapeutic dose for shiitake mushroom.
Some sources cite a daily dose of between 1 - 4 grams of shiitake mushroom powder as a good way to achieve the maximum therapeutic benefit without having to struggle with the flavor.
There are no known reasons to avoid this fantastic supplement, however individuals with gout should exercise caution at high doses due to the presence of purines - as well as those with a known mushroom allergy.
Shiitake Mushroom Powder Benefits Via Athletic Greens
There’s little doubt that as a functional food and concentrated powder, shiitake mushrooms make an impressive nutritional package.
Research supports their immune enhancing abilities - specifically due to the presence of beta glucans.
Evidence is also accumulating for shiitake mushroom powders’ anti-obesity and anti-cancer benefits, especially when teaming up with the vitamins A, C & E, policosanol, beta glucans, chromium picolinate, alpha lipoic acid and selenium included in Athletic Greens.
Shiitake mushroom powder works with the vitamin C and zinc in Athletic Greens for boosting immunity and it goes hand in hand with the CoQ10 and grapeseed extract for keeping our cardiovascular systems running like the Japanese public transport system (you can set your watch by it!).
All that is not so bad for an ancient fungus, hats off to you shiitake mushrooms.