Shiitake Mushrooms Aren't Just Delicious, They Have Many Health Benefits


Aug. 3 2023, Updated 4:52 p.m. ET

Raw shiitake mushroom in a bowl
Source: Getty Images

In culinary terms, shiitake mushrooms offer a rich, savory, distinctive taste that can elevate just about any dish. They and a popular ingredient in traditional Chinese and Japanese cooking, and these days, readily available in many grocery stores.

In addition, the nutritional compounds found in shiitake mushrooms offer a wide array of health benefits.

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Keep reading to learn more about the ways adding shiitake mushrooms to your diet may benefit your health!

Pile of shiitake mushrooms
Source: Thom Milkovic/Unsplash
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How nutritious are shiitake mushrooms?

Shiitake mushrooms are a low-calorie source of fiber, protein, and good carbohydrates. According to Healthline, just four dried shiitake mushrooms contain 2 whole grams of fiber, as well as a host of other vitamins and minerals including riboflavin, niacin, copper, manganese, zinc, selenium, folate, vitamin D, vitamin B5, and vitamin B6.

There are endless health benefits to shiitake mushrooms.

In addition to the impressive collection of vitamins and minerals, shiitake mushrooms contain a selection of beneficial compounds that can boost your immune system, lower cholesterol, support heart health, and potentially treat cancer.

Here are five of the health benefits of these powerhouses.

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Shiitake mushrooms are good for your immune system.

According to WebMD, shiitake mushrooms contain high levels of polysaccharides that are capable of enhancing your immune system. These polysaccharide compounds contain lentinans and other beta-glucans, which can boost the production of white blood cells. These compounds also possess anti-inflammatory properties.

Shiitake mushrooms in soup
Source: Getty Images
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Shiitake mushrooms are heart healthy.

The mix of nutrients found in shiitake mushrooms is capable of reducing blood pressure and staving off many dangerous heart conditions such as aneurysms, stroke, and heart attack. According to FreshCap, animal testing has revealed that a solution of shiitake powder and water had a significant effect on blood pressure and cholesterol levels in the test subjects.

Shiitake mushrooms can reduce cholesterol.

According to Have a Plant, this same research indicates that much of the shiitake’s cholesterol- and blood pressure-reducing power comes from a compound known as eritadenine. It’s also important to note that replacing the meat portion of a meal with a vegan-friendly food like shiitake mushrooms is another great way to avoid unnecessary cholesterol intake.

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Arranged mushrooms
Source: Getty Images

Shiitake mushrooms can be bone boosting.

Shiitake mushrooms contain vitamin D, which is one of the vitamins most necessary for building strong bones. However, according to Healthline, not all mushrooms contain high amounts of the stuff. Only those that have been exposed to UV light during the growth process will contain high enough vitamin D to strengthen bones and improve bone density.

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Underside of shiitake mushroom caps
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Shiitake mushrooms can potentially treat cancer.

Though the evidence is limited at this time, there are indications that the lentinan found in shiitake mushrooms could be effective at fighting cancer.

According to studies done at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the lentinan found in shiitake mushrooms has been shown capable of extending survival rates for patients with colorectal, liver, pancreatic, and stomach cancers when administered orally. These compounds were ineffective against those with prostate cancer, unfortunately.

This article, originally published on July 23, 2021, has been updated.

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