The Health Benefits of Shiitake Mushrooms

April 1, 2008

shiitake mushrooms

Brief History of Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms are an edible variety of mushroom native to China, particularly known for their healing properties. The mushrooms themselves are brown and fleshy with a curved cap that can grow anywhere between 5 to 25cm in diameter.

The shiitake mushroom has been cultivated in Asia for well over 1000 years – there is record of its growth as early as 1000AD, and is now the third most widely produced mushroom in the world.

The shiitake mushroom has been used as a symbol of longevity in Asian countries due to its health-promoting properties.

Nutrients in Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms are an excellent source of selenium. They are a very good source of iron. They are a good source of protein, dietary fiber, and vitamin C.

shiitake, raw
Nutritional value per
100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 34 kcal (141 kJ)
* Carbohydrates 6.79 g
Dietary fiber 2.5 g
* Fat 0.49 g
* Protein 2.24 g
Thiamine (Vit. B1) 0.015 mg
Riboflavin (Vit. B2) 0.217 mg
Niacin (Vit. B3) 3.877 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5) 1.500 mg
* Vitamin B6 0.293 mg
* Vitamin D 20 IU
* Calcium 2 mg
* Iron 0.41 mg
* Magnesium 20 mg
Phosphorus 112 mg
Potassium 304 mg
Sodium 9 mg
Zinc 1.03 mg
Manganese 0.230 mg
A comprehensive breakdown of nutrients can be found in the Nutrition Database where this food can also be added to a meal planner.

Shiitake Mushrooms for Cholesterol Reduction

A study in Sweden highlights the significant health benefits of shiitake mushrooms, in particular its ability to reduce blood cholesterol levels. The cholesterol-reducing compound in shiitake mushrooms, and shiitake mushroom extract has been identified as eritadenine.

At the Department of Bioresource Science, Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine in Japan, research has shown that shiitake mushrooms increase the level of cholesterol in feces. This in turn reduces the amount of cholesterol in the body

Shiitake Mushrooms for Blood Pressure

High blood pressure means your heart is having to do extra work and can lead to, if unchecked, a stroke or heart attack. Preliminary studies have suggested that dietary shiitake and other types of mushroom consumption may prevent blood pressure increase.

Shiitake Mushroom Extract for Cancer Prevention

They contain an active compound called lentinan, which not only helps to boost the immune system, but also promotes anti-cancer activity. A number of studies have highlighted the anti cancer benefits exhibited from the lentinan extracted from shiitake mushrooms. Studies in Kobe, Nagoya and Tokyo have all shown the various effects, from reducing and slowing growth, to regression and even increasing activity to combat the spread of a tumor. Each of the studies sited lentinan (a form of beta-glucan) as the key to this, since it can stimulate the immune system and therefore help activate certain cells and proteins that attack the cancer. Its use has particularly been linked to helping gastric cancers.

Shiitake Mushrooms for Thrombosis Preventionmangoes

Thrombosis, the formation of a blood clot that inhibits blood-flow, has been shown to be significantly reduced by individuals consuming shiitake mushroom oil. The Department of Agricultural and Biological Chemistry at Nihon University in Japan has demonstrated that the levels of lenthionine found in shiitake mushrooms inhibited platelet aggregation.

Adverse Reactions from Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms have been known to cause diarrhea and abdominal bloating when high quantities have been consumed.

Certain allergic reactions have also been recorded, most commonly skin rashes.

It should also be noted, that since all varieties of mushrooms are a significant source of purines, which can be broken down to form uric acid, they are not recommended for sufferers of gout or kidney stones.

1. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno.
2. Benders’ Dictionary of Nutrition and Food Technology.
3. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference
4. Fukushima M, Ohashi T, Fujiwara Y, Sonoyama K, Nakano M. Cholesterol-lowering effects of maitake (Grifola frondosa) fiber, shiitake (Lentinus edodes) fiber, and enokitake (Flammulina velutipes) fiber in rats. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2001 Sep;226(8):758-65. PMID: 11520942.
5. Enman J, Rova U, Berglund KA. Quantification of the bioactive compound eritadenine in selected strains of shiitake mushroom (Lentinus edodes). J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Feb 21;55(4):1177-80. Epub 2007 Jan 27. PMID: 17256958.
6. Shimada S, Komamura K, Kumagai H, Sakurai H. Inhibitory activity of shiitake flavor against platelet aggregation. Biofactors. 2004;22(1-4):177-9. PMID: 15630278.
7. Hokama Y, Hokama JL. In vitro inhibition of platelet aggregation with low dalton compounds from aqueous dialysates of edible fungi. Res Commun Chem Pathol Pharmacol. 1981 Jan;31(1):177-80. PMID: 7196068.
8. Kabir Y, Yamaguchi M, Kimura S. Effect of shiitake (Lentinus edodes) and maitake (Grifola frondosa) mushrooms on blood pressure and plasma lipids of spontaneously hypertensive rats. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 1987 Oct;33(5):341-6. PMID: 3443885.
9. Okamoto T, Kodoi R, Nonaka Y, Fukuda I, Hashimoto T, Kanazawa K, Mizuno M, Ashida H. Lentinan from shiitake mushroom (Lentinus edodes) suppresses expression of cytochrome P450 1A subfamily in the mouse liver. Biofactors. 2004;21(1-4):407-9. PMID: 15630237.
10. Zákány J, Chihara G, Fachet J. Effect of lentinan on tumor growth in murine allogeneic and syngeneic hosts. Int J Cancer. 1980 Mar 15;25(3):371-6. PMID: 7390659.
11. Suga T, Shiio T, Maeda YY, Chihara G. Antitumor activity of lentinan in murine syngeneic and autochthonous hosts and its suppressive effect on 3-methylcholanthrene-induced carcinogenesis. Cancer Res. 1984 Nov;44(11):5132-7. PMID: 6488173.
12. Ogawa K, Watanabe T, Katsube T, Miura K, Hirai M, Wakasugi S, Yagawa H, Kajiwara T, Suga T, Hamuro J. Study on intratumor administration of lentinan–primary changes in cancerous tissues. Gan To Kagaku Ryoho. 1994 Sep;21(13):2101-4. PMID: 7944412.
13. Inagaki T, Morise K, Matsunaga H. Effects of endoscopic intratumoral injection of lentinan in patients with gastric cancer. Gan To Kagaku Ryoho. 1988 Feb;15(2):319-24. PMID: 3257678.
14. Image by frankenstoen

About Adrian


  1. usha jagmohan

    February 9, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    breast cancer? how can it help, how to cook it?

    • Joanne

      May 22, 2012 at 12:39 am

      Shiitake mushroom, celery and garlic soup (serves 1)
      90g chopped shiitake mushrooms
      11/2 celery sticks, chopped
      1 garlic cloves
      270ml chicken stock
      10ml/ 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
      Black pepper
      Celery leaves, to garnish
      1. Place the mushrooms, celery and garlic in a pan and stir fry into the 20ml of chicken broth. Cover and cook over a low heat for 8-10 minutes, until tender.
      2. Add 125ml of the stock and puree in a food processor or blender until smooth. Return to the pan and add the remaining stock and the Worcestershire sauce
      3. Bring to the boil, season and serve hot, garnished with celery leaves.
      *it’s best to stir-fry the shiitake, celery and garlic with cooking wine for better favouring and smell

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