What you need to know: A ubiquitous component of Japanese and Chinese food culture, these medicinal mushrooms have been used for thousands of years to treat an array of conditions. Traditional uses for shiitake mushrooms include lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, thereby protecting against heart disease, reducing inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis, and fighting a variety of micro-organisms, including bacteria, fungi and viruses. Shiitake mushrooms are also effective in mitigating the effects of aging and sexual dysfunction.
Why you should try it: A plethora of research has been done on the shiitake mushroom, showing that two of its components, lentinan and lentinula edodes mycelium (LEM), have strong anti-tumor effects on the body. These nutrients work by boosting the immune system so it is able to overcome the growth of the tumor. This is the preferred way to address abnormal growths since it does not attack the tumor, subsequently stressing and damaging other tissues. Shiitakes are also a great source of vegetarian iron, one that is easily absorbed and utilized by the body. This makes them a therapeutic food for anyone dealing with anemia.
Let’s get together: With a rich and hearty taste, these smoky mushrooms bring a lot to the table. They are an excellent replacement for meat in vegan dishes, (especially barbecue!) since they mimic the taste of meat and are a significant source of protein as well. We also love adding them to soup, like this Thai Green Soup, or rolling them into a homemade sushi roll like this Smoked Shiitake Dragon Roll.