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Things to do in Lisbon: Visit a Shiitake Mushroom Farm

Originally from Northeast Asia, it has been gaining some non-Western fame for its gastronomic and therapeutic interest.

Cultivated over a thousand years ago in China, this species of edible mushroom is currently one of the most produced in the world. Discover the mysteries that hide this appreciated food. In their natural habitat, fungi tend to develop strategies of biological control in order to be able to compete among the multiple microorganisms that cohabit their environment. One of the strategies is the production of certain chemical compounds that fungi can release into the environment in which they live.

These include, but are not limited to, antibiotic substances that are designed to reduce competing bacteria that may harm them in the fight against their energy sources for food. Throughout history, humankind has been able to take advantage of some of these components for its own benefit, as the emblematic case of the discovery of penicillin, from the fungus Penicillium notatum that revolutionized the history of medicine at the beginning of World War II.

Nowadays, there is a great interest for mushrooms with medicinal effects, as is the case of the Lentinula edodes, designated xiangu in China, where it originates. Its name means aromatic mushroom. Xian means aroma and gu is equivalent to mushroom, better known by shiitake, common name in Japanese. The cultivation of shiitake in logs is the oldest among all edible mushrooms.

Benefits of Shiitake Mushroom

8 Reasons to Include the Shiitake Mushroom in Your Feeding:

1. Helps to lose weight

With only 34 calories per 100g of fresh mushroom, shiitake is an excellent food to be part of a diet to lose weight. In addition to low calorie, the mushroom also provides a good amount of fiber – 2.5g in the 100g portion – a large percentage of water (75% in fresh food) and few carbohydrates (7 grams in the same portion). This means that shiitake helps to lose weight because it provides satiety with few calories and can be considered a low glycemic index food (which does not raise blood glucose sharply, one of the factors leading to fat accumulation).

And for anyone who is trying to cut down on animal protein intake, shiitake is one of the best choices for your meatless diet, since it has a good amount of protein and a consistency and flavor that resemble animal food.

2. Reduce Cholesterol

Shiitake contains eritadenine, a substance that, according to Swedish researchers, has the ability to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. Another study in Japan found that shiitake increased the amount of cholesterol in the stool, which in turn reduced the levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream. This effect was verified in researches carried out with the fresh mushroom and also with the shiitake extract.

3. Helps in Combating Cancer

Another compound that collaborates in the properties of the shiitake mushroom is lentinana, which not only strengthens the immune system but also works to prevent and combat cancer.

Several studies have proven the antitumor action of lentinana, which would be able to reduce and slow the growth of some types of tumors. Some research conducted at renowned Japanese universities also speaks of lentinana’s ability to cause regression and prevent the metastasis of some forms of cancer (especially those of gastric origin).

In a study published in 2011 in the journal Cancer Science, researchers noted an interruption in the growth of melanomas in rats after the animals received powdered shiitake extract.

One of the possible explanations for shiitake’s mechanism of action against cancer would be the fact that lentinana (a type of beta-glucan) stimulates the immune system and helps activate certain defense cells and proteins responsible for attacking the tumors.

4. Fight Free Radicals

Free radicals are indispensable to life, but when in excess they can cause a host of complications, ranging from premature aging to cancer. Substances capable of combating this excess free radicals are called antioxidants, and can be found in abundance in foods of plant origin, among them shiitake.

In the case of this mushroom, there is a particular substance with a great antioxidant capacity: Lergotioneína, a potent compound capable of preventing free radical damage to the body’s healthy cells. It has already been proven that the accumulation of free radicals can cause these cells to mutate.

A study released in 2005 at a meeting of the American Chemical Society revealed that mushrooms have a higher concentration of Lergotioneína than chicken liver and wheat germ, hitherto considered the largest known sources of this substance. The same researchers later found that shiitake contains a larger amount of Lergotionein than all other mushrooms for human consumption.

5. Strengthens the Immune System

According to researchers, this may be considered as one of the greatest benefits of shiitake mushroom for health. As we have seen, the shitake contains lentinana, a substance that acts on the body’s defense mechanism against disease-causing agents. Today it is known that shiitake can be even more effective than some drugs in fighting infections caused by viruses and bacteria.

6. Control Blood Pressure

Preliminary studies have shown that one more benefit of shiitake mushroom is to lower blood pressure levels, preventing and even fighting hypertension. This property of shiitake is due to the presence of niacin, a vitamin that causes dilation of blood vessels, which in turn leads to a decrease in blood pressure.

7. Protects the Cardiovascular System

The benefits of mushroom shiitake to the heart:

  • Regulates LDL levels, which when elevated increases the risk of coronary heart disease;
  • Reduces the risk of arteriosclerosis;
  • Controls the pressure – high blood pressure levels are associated with a number of cardiovascular complications.

8. Prevent Thrombosis

Shiitake still contains lanthionine, a natural compound that inhibits platelet aggregation, preventing the formation of clots that block blood circulation. This benefit can be obtained by consuming shiitake oil or even through the fresh mushroom.

What to do in Lisbon? Let´s book a shiitake mushroom experience?

Visit a shiitake mushroom farm, learn how to make it, pick it up yourself, and in the end indulge yourself with a tasting. You will arrive at the mushroom farm and we will introduce you to the farmer. After the presentation, we will walk through the farm to see the shiitake mushrooms and all the equipment and special techniques for harvesting. This is a true experience, so you will have a workshop about ” mushroom inoculation” and you will pick your own shiitake mushrooms. The farmer will teach you how to taste shiitake mushrooms, and explain what makes good mushrooms —and what makes the bad stuff, too. During the lunch on the farm, you will see all the mushrooms dishes: risotto and homemade sauteed. You will end this day with a wealth of knowledge about production techniques, history, and the freshness, intensity, and variety that high-quality mushrooms can offer.

Location: Torres Novas (60 min from Lisbon)

Duration: 4-5 hours   Number of people: 2 to 40 pax

Our experience will include:

  • Arrival at the farm and welcome by the producer
  • Guided tour of the farm
  • Practical mushroom inoculation workshop
  • Harvesting experience
  • Tasting mushrooms

Extras:

  • Lunch at the farm
    • (Drinks, mushroom risotto with homemade grilled fries, dessert and coffee)
  • Transportation from Lisbon

Our producer
Our exploration is characterized by being family-friendly, where the family “Lopes” based on human and ethical values, combines the experience of the elders with the irreverence of the younger. Its products are completely organic finding the entire production process certified by Naturalfa.

Benefits
Long a symbol of longevity in Asia because of their health-promoting properties, shiitake mushrooms have been used medicinally by the Chinese for more than 6,000 years.Like other mushrooms, these specialty mushrooms are as mysteriously unique as they are delicious. While often thought of as a vegetable and prepared like one, mushrooms are actually a fungus, a special type of living organism that has no roots, leaves, flowers or seeds.They are rich in B vitamins, a good source of vitamin B2, and a good source of vitamin B6, niacin, choline, and folate. Additionally, they are concentrated in minerals, being and excellent source of selenium and copper, zinc and manganese.

Preparing and cooking
Mushrooms are very porous, so if they are exposed to too much water they will quickly absorb it and became soggy. Therefore, the best way to clean mushrooms without sacrificing their texture and taste is to clean them using minimal, if any, water. We recommend healthy sautéeing shiitake mushrooms, we feel that this method also gives shiitake mushrooms maximum flavor. They are traditionally adde to miso soup, to give your vegetable stock an extra depth, or for a quick and easy Asian pasta dish, healthy sauté shiitake mushrooms with snap peas and tofu.

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