What are shiitake mushrooms?
Shiitake are edible mushrooms native to East Asia. They're tan to dark brown, with caps that grow between 2 and 4 inches (5 and 10 cm). While typically eaten like vegetables, shiitake are fungi that grow naturally on decaying hardwood trees.You can find them fresh, dried, or in various dietary supplements.
Shiitake are low in calories. They also offer good amounts of fiber, as well as B vitamins and some minerals.
The nutrients in 4 dried shiitake (15 grams) are:
- Calories: 44
- Carbs: 11 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Protein: 1 gram
- Riboflavin: 11% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Niacin: 11% of the DV
- Copper: 39% of the DV
- Vitamin B5: 33% of the DV
- Selenium: 10% of the DV
- Manganese: 9% of the DV
- Zinc: 8% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 7% of the DV
- Folate: 6% of the DV
- Vitamin D: 6% of the DV
In addition, shiitake contain many of the same amino acids as meat.
Shiitake mushrooms have two main uses — as food and as supplements.
Shiitake as whole food
You can cook with both fresh and dried shiitake, although the dried ones are slightly more popular.
Dried shiitake have an umami flavour that’s even more intense than when fresh.
Umami flavor can be described as savory or meaty. It’s often considered the fifth taste, alongside sweet, sour, bitter, and salty.
Both dried and fresh shiitake mushrooms are used in stir-fries, soups, stews, and other dishes.
Shiitake as supplements
Shiitake mushrooms have long been used in traditional Chinese medicine. They’re also part of the medical traditions of Japan, Korea, and Eastern Russia .
In Chinese medicine, shiitake are thought to boost health and longevity, as well as improve circulation.
Studies suggest that some of the bioactive compounds in shiitake may protect against cancer and inflammation.