A shiitake mushroom provides thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, 8 amino acids, and fiber. This mushroom also contains ergosterol, lentinan, lentinula edodesmycelium, and eritadenine, all of which are linked to potential health benefits.
Ergosterol is converted by sunlight to vitamin D.
Eritadenine is believed to reduce cholesterol and fat levels by increasing their removal from the body.
Studies have found that shiitake mushrooms increase the response of white blood cells in the body's defense system against cancer cells and viruses. Shiitake mushrooms are actually used in China and Japan in conjunction with chemotherapy.
Scientists have found even greater disease fighting potential linked to the maitake mushroom, which contains beta-glucan. Beta-glucan is important for cellular immunity. Research is ongoing, but maitake mushrooms have been linked to improved insulin sensitivity, lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and lower blood pressure.
A study conducted at Tohoku University in Sendai Japan found dietary maitake mushrooms to reduce blood pressure in spontaneously hypertensive rats over an 8 week feeding period.
Easy Ways to Increase Your Mushroom Intake
Mushrooms are a delicious addition to many meals making them very easy to incorporate regularly. Use them fresh or cooked, by adding to salads, stir-fry's, soups, whole grain side dishes, and omelets. Mushrooms can even act as a good meat substitute.
Just remember mushrooms should not be washed before you store them. Do not store mushrooms in plastic bags. Instead, leave mushrooms in the container in which they are bought. It's recommended you store mushrooms in the bottom of the refrigerator or a cool place. You don't want the mushrooms to freeze.
If your mushrooms dry out you can revive them with a 1 minute immersion in boiling water.