Shiitake – The Fungi which is good for the Health

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Mushrooms are an undervalued source of good nutrition.  They provide a variety of vitamins and minerals and can have a positive impact on our health and well being.  While each mushroom benefits us differently, the shiitake mushroom has been long believed to deliver healthy, extended living.  In as early as ancient times, Chinese and Japanese cultures have utilized the shiitake in their cuisines and medicines.  They believed that it had properties to improve the body’s stamina and circulation, and, through modern science, some of these beliefs have been confirmed.

There have been other health benefits associated with the shiitake.  While being able to help maintain an excellent circulatory system, they also posses the ability to stimulate the immune system.  They have anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, which can help the body fight infections and diseases.  They have even been found to have a compound called lentinan, which has been shown to be an effective medicinal treatment for tumors.  Studies on the compound have shown that it also helps against the recurrence of cancers.  Some countries, like Australia and Japan, have manufactured commercially available medications that contain this lentinan compound. 

shiitakeNiacin, riboflavin, thiamin, potassium, iron and vitamins A, B, and C are some of the other nutrients that can be acquired in a serving of shiitake mushrooms.  It has also been shown that, if the shiitake is dried out in UV light or sunlight, it can contain a relatively large quantity of Vitamin D.  While it is easy to recommend something because it is healthy, it is harder to incorporate it into a lifestyle.  For some, the shiitake mushroom may appear to be an unfamiliar and exotic ingredient, and few may not know how to prepare it into a meal.  The shiitake, however, has a lot of versatility in the kitchen.  Whether as a drink, appetizer, or part of the entrée, it is an ingredient that complies with your needs.  Like most mushrooms, it can be used in salads, soups, and sauces.  It can accentuate chicken or, since it is an excellent source of protein, act as the main course for vegetarian meals.  There are also recipes that utilize the shiitake in teas and rice dishes.  Through a little research and experimentation, the shiitake mushroom can easily be integrated into any healthy diet and bring healthier living to your heart and body.

Image Courtesy: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1016931-glazed-shiitakes-with-bok-choy

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