Shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) are common in oriental cuisine and popular among gourmet food aficionados, and they make a pretty tasty soup. They are easily found at your local supermarket or from a quality grocer. Shiitake mushrooms are also one of a few known natural dietary sources of vegan vitamin D. (While your body can make vitamin D when exposed to sun, taking supplements is recommended in winter in less sunny climes, and for people who seldom expose flesh to sunlight; it's hard even for omnivores to get enough vitamin D solely from their diet.)
Shiitake mushrooms have some chemical compounds, such as itchtyol, worth researching for benefits ranging from anti-viral properties to possible treatments for severe allergies, as well as arthritis. Lenthionine, a key flavour compound of shiitake, inhibits platelet aggregation, so it is a promising treatment for thrombosis.
Compounds in shiitake mushrooms also demonstrate anti-tumor properties in laboratory mice. Studies have identified the polysaccharide lentinan, a (1-3)-β-D-glucan, as the active compound responsible for the anti-tumor effects. The mushrooms are, consequently, touted by some quacks and alternative health gurus as being a cure for cancer, with some citing the aforementioned study to bolster their claims.
Eating raw or undercooked shiitakes can cause a skin reaction, called shiitake mushroom dermatitis, which usually goes away after you stop eating them, and has no long-term effects. They may accumulate toxic heavy metals such as cadmium, although they also accumulate nice metals with useful biological functions; hopefully, those available for sale will have been tested for toxins.
- ↑ Pronounced "Shee-tah-keh" rather than "Shit-ache".
- ↑ Vitamin D, Vegan Society, accessed Sep 5, 2019
- ↑ Vitamin D, NHS (UK), 3 March 2017
- ↑ Inhibition of growth and induction of apoptosis in human cancer cell lines by an ethyl acetate fraction from shiitake mushrooms.
- ↑ Shiitake Mushroom Cancer Treatment by Henry Pitot (Feb 18, 2015) Livestrong.com (archived from March 4, 2015).
- ↑ Don’t miss shiitake dermatitis: a case report, Sanja Karanovic, Susannah George and Emma Topham, British Journal of General Practice 2014; 64(625):426-427. doi:10.3399/bjgp14X681193
- ↑ Nutritional and Medicinal Value of Specialty Mushrooms, William M Breene, Journal of Food Protection, Vol. 53, No. 10, Pages 883-894 (October 1990)