What are Shiitake Mushrooms and why should you eat them?

shiitake mushrooms healthy

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

What are shiitake mushrooms?

Shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) in Japanese means “shii” or the tree in which the mushrooms were first found and “také” which means mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms are a type of Fungus that usually grows on dead decaying logs of trees or dried hard logs of wooden trees. The mushrooms are generally grown during the months of autumn to spring. These brown-capped mushrooms are eaten fresh or in dried forms.

Where to find Shiitake Mushrooms?

Shiitake mushrooms are known for their robust smoky flavor and meaty texture and are one of the most popular mushrooms grown in the world. Though Japan was the primary producer of Shiitake mushrooms, now China has tapped the market and is producing around 80% of the total world production of Shiitake mushrooms. Apart from Japan and China, other countries like the United States, Singapore, and Canada are also major suppliers of the Shiitake mushrooms.

Nutrition Profile

The nutritional facts of dried Shiitake mushroom per 100 grams:


Amount (per serving of 100 grams)

Daily Value % (DV)




Total Fat

0.99 g






13 mg



57.37 g


Dietary Fiber

11.5 mg



2.21 g



9.58 g


Vitamin C

3.5 mg



1.72 mg



11 mg



5.165 mg


Nutritional facts of raw Shiitake mushrooms


Amount (per serving of 100 grams)

Daily Value % (DV)


34 g


Total fat

0.5 g



6.8 g



9 mg


Dietary fiber

2.5 g



2.2 g



2.4 g



2 mg



0.41 mg



304 mg


The DV percentage in the above charts is based on a diet of 2000 calorie-intake per day.

Shiitake Mushrooms Benefits

shiitake mushroomsShiitake mushrooms rank second in popularity just after our very own “button” mushrooms. These superfoods are low in calories, are rich in vitamins and minerals, and contains amino acids that are commonly found in meats.

Nowadays, numerous farms are organically growing Shiitake mushrooms. However, some shiitake mushrooms have shown traces of pesticides. Look for the organic logo in the product before buying it. This will ensure that your mushrooms do not contain any harmful chemicals. Shiitake can be either consumed as food or as supplements.

A culinary ingredient

The dried Shiitake mushrooms are more popular than the fresh ones. Shiitake mushrooms can be eaten in many ways. They can be added to soups, curries, or stews. Many prefer the stir-fried Shiitake mushrooms which preserve the intense taste of the mushrooms and also retain the moisture.

Shiitake Supplements

 Research studies have proved that Shiitake mushrooms are rich in bioactive components which can improve the immune system, reduce inflammation, and prevent the production of cancerous cells.

Ancient Chinese medicine has used Shiitake mushrooms for its various medicinal benefits. Many countries like Japan, East Russia, and Korea have also been using this age-old mushroom for its health benefits.It is believed that Shiitake can improve blood circulation and longevity and is good for our overall health. Although the potency of Shiitake mushrooms as supplements is yet to be tested in humans, they have a lot of nutritional benefits.

Shiitake Mushrooms and Heart Health

shiitake mushrooms healthyShiitake mushrooms are good for the heart. They contain bioactive compounds that help to lower blood cholesterol and aids in the proper circulation of the blood. Shiitake mushrooms contain compounds like:

  • Eritadenine that hinders the production of cholesterol in the blood.
  • The Sterol compounds decrease the absorption of cholesterol in the liver.
  • Phytonutrients prevent plaque build-up in the blood vessel walls.
  • Decreases HDL in the blood.
  • It contains beta-glucans that can decrease the levels of cholesterol in the blood.

Studies have proved that Shiitake mushrooms decreases HDL and VLDL in the blood and reduces blood pressure.

 Prevent Cancer

Shiitake mushrooms contain a compound called polysaccharide lentinan that inhibits the production of cancerous cells.The lentinan compounds help in:

  • Boosting up the immune system.
  • Healing of the chromosomes that were destroyed by the cancerous cells.
  • Prevents further growth of leukemia cells.

Countries like Japan and China use lentinan injections as a part of their chemotherapy treatment. It is known to have improved immunity and is used as a potential treatment for cancer especially in gastric cancer.

Immune Boosters

Shiitake mushrooms are rich in enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. They contain important nutrients such as:

Shiitake has enzymes that help in the proper digestion and absorption of the food in our body. The immune function of the Shiitake mushroom attacks and kills the tumor cells and is a natural remedy for fighting cancer.


Shiitake mushrooms can reduce obesity. Certain components of Shiitake mushrooms like b-glucan and Eritadenine can make you feel full and reduce the urge to eat more. They restrict the accumulation of fat in the body and controls the plasma lipid levels. Some scientists believe that Shiitake mushrooms if added to a high-fat diet, can control the accumulation of fat and plasma triacylglycerol levels in the body.

Shiitake Mushrooms provides Vitamin D

Vitamin D-rich foods are essential for the proper functioning of our body. Shiitake mushrooms are an essential source of vitamin D. Vitamin D protects us from several diseases such as:

Other health benefits of vitamin D are:

  • They are good for our bones and helps in the absorption of phosphorus and calcium in the body.
  • Boosts our immunity.
  • It improves brain function, especially at old age.

Shiitake Mushroom Benefits for Skin

 Shiitake mushroom extracts can improve the texture of the skin and give it a beautiful, young, and radiant look. Shiitake mushrooms contain kojic acid which can lighten the skin color, remove scars, and delay the process of aging.

They also contain anti-inflammatory components which can be used to cure several skin problems. Shiitake mushrooms contain selenium and zinc which can reduce acne and skin scarring and also help in the healing process of the skin.

Shiitake Mushrooms are rich in Iron

shiitake mushroom dishShiitake mushrooms are a good source of iron. Women during pregnancy or menstruation often suffer from iron deficiency or anemia. As a result, they get weak and fatigued easily.

Shiitake mushrooms are rich in vitamins, minerals, and iron. Studies have proved that if women take regulated amounts of Shiitake mushrooms during pregnancy, they can replenish the iron loss in their body. However, some pregnant or lactating women can be allergic to mushrooms. So, it is advised to consult a doctor before taking Shiitake mushrooms.

Shiitake Mushrooms Helps in Digestion

 Shiitake mushrooms are a good source of dietary fiber. Every 100 grams of Shiitake mushroom contains approximately 2.5 grams of fiber.These dietary fibers help in digestion, removes the stool from the body, and reduces constipation.

Shiitake Mushrooms for Dental Hygiene

Shiitake mushrooms have anti-inflammatory components that are good for the gums and teeth. They also contain lentinan which kills the bad bacteria and protects the teeth from decay, cavities, and plaque. Shiitake mushrooms have antimicrobial properties that are used for treating gingivitis where inflammation can occur in the gums due to bacteria. Shiitake mushroom extracts are used in gingivitis mouthwash as an essential cure for gums.

Shiitake Mushrooms for Diabetics

Shiitake mushrooms help you to control your blood sugar levels.

  • They are an important source of insoluble dietary fibers which keeps the levels of blood sugar under control.
  • Shiitake mushrooms have very low sugar levels which are good for diabetics.
  • They help in digestion which helps to regulate glucose levels.
  • The anti-inflammatory components are beneficial for diabetics.
  • The glycemic index or GI is low in Shiitake mushrooms. This regulates the sudden spike in the levels of blood sugar in the blood.
  • Shiitake mushrooms are low in calories and can help in reducing weight.

How can I store Shiitake Mushrooms?

You need to be careful while storing Shiitake mushrooms. The presence of moisture can spoil the mushrooms. This is why many prefer the dried Shiitake mushrooms.

The best way of storing Shiitake mushrooms is to keep them in a dry paper bag. Before putting them in the bag, remember to clean them with a dry cloth. Do not wash the mushrooms before storing them.

You can refrigerate the mushrooms, but try to use them before a week. Do not keep them in the freezer. If you wish to store them for a longer time, you can dry them and keep them in an air-tight container.

How do I clean the Shiitake Mushrooms?

Mushrooms have a high amount of water content. So, it is advisable not to use too much water to wash them as it will make them mushy. You can also use a wet cloth or towel to clean them properly.

After cleaning, dry them with a cloth or towel. If you are using frozen Shiitake mushrooms, you can keep them for a while so that the ice will melt or immerse them in water for half an hour. Now after washing the mushrooms, dry them with a cloth.

How can I eat Shiitake Mushrooms?

Shiitake mushrooms are flavorsome and are considered a delicacy in many parts of the world. The dried Shiitake mushrooms are very popular because of their dense smoky flavor.

The best and perhaps the easiest way to cook Shiitake mushrooms are to sauté them in a frying pan with garlic and some chopped vegetables. This will bring out the real flavor of the mushrooms and can be a lovely evening snack. Shiitake mushrooms can be added in soups, salad, pasta, tofu, or can be prepared with animal proteins like chicken and fish.

Shiitake Mushrooms Side Effects

Shiitake mushrooms can be included in your daily diet but only in regulated amounts. These mushrooms are a form of fungus and overconsumption can cause some serious side effects.

– Overconsumption of Shiitake mushrooms can cause digestive problems like stomach upsets, vomiting, stomach pain, nausea, or diarrhea.

– Shiitake mushrooms can cause allergic symptoms like inflammation of the neck, face, mouth, hives, breathing difficulties, or palpitations.

– Research studies have shown that Shiitake mushrooms can cause blood abnormalities called eosinophilia. This occurs when there is an increase in the growth of eosinophils, a type of WBC or white blood cells.

– Shiitake mushrooms can cause skin irritations like dermatitis or skin lesions which worsen with exposure to sunlight. The allergic symptoms are very common in Japan. Women during pregnancy or lactating mothers are often advised not to eat Shiitake mushrooms due to their allergic reactions.

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