In this article, we look more closely at the benefits of Shiitake mushrooms and how to prepare them in a quick and tasty stir-fry.
Mushrooms are often regarded as vegetables but they are really a fungus. Shiitake mushrooms have been used medicinally by the Chinese for over 5,000 years. They are commonly known as the ‘symbol of longevity’ in Asia because of their health promoting properties.
Shiitakes’ legendary benefits can be attributed to an active compound called lentinan. Lentinan appears to confer healing benefits that boost the immune system and strengthen its ability to fight infection by reducing inflammation. Lentinan is a polysaccharide which is also known as branched chain beta-glucan. Branched chain beta-glucan has also been demonstrated to confer anti-cancer activity particularly in gastric cancer, stimulating cancer cell apoptosis.
Another active compound called eritadenine is also found in shiitake. This compound appears to lower cholesterol levels by up to 12% when consumed regularly.
A powerful antioxidant has been discovered in mushrooms, it is L-ergothioneine. In 2005, the American Chemical Society meeting in Washington, D.C., revealed that mushrooms contain higher concentrations L-ergothioneine than chicken liver and wheat germ (two food items previously erroneously nominated as highest in this antioxidant). The shiitake may contain up to 13 mg of ergothioneine in a 3-ounce serving. This is almost forty times as much as that found in wheat germ. What is even more wonderful is that L-ergothioneine is not destroyed with cooking!
Stir-fried Shiitake and Asparagus Recipe
- Garlic, 8 cloves, chopped
- Asparagus, 3 bunches, cut into 15cm pieces
- Shiitake, 2 trays, quartered
- Chicken stock powder, 1.5 teaspoon
Fry chopped garlic; add asparagus and then shiitake followed by some water. Lastly add 1.5 teaspoon of chicken stock powder.