Produced over a thousand years in China, this mushroom species is currently one of the most produced in the world. In their natural habitat, fungi tend to develop biological strategies 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 where they live. These include, but are not limited to, antibiotic substances that are designed to reduce competing bacteria that may harm them in the struggle for their energy sources to feed themselves. Throughout history, humanity has been able to harness some of these components for its own benefit, such 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 in mushrooms with medicinal effects, such as Lentinula edodes, called xiangu in China, from where it originates. Its name means aromatic mushroom. Xian means aroma and gu is mushroom, better known by the Portuguese as shiitake, common name in Japanese. Shiitake cultivation on wood logs is the oldest of all edible mushrooms. It originated in China about a thousand years ago when it came to master the technique of mushroom production in the natural environment. Japan specializes in selecting high quality varieties where it is also produced on a large scale. Today, China remains one of the world’s largest shiitake producers, consumers and exporters. Originally from the temperate zone of Northeast Asia, this food, already present in many nationally made recipes, remains one of the most widely produced species in the world. Over time, it has gained some fame in the West for its gastronomic and medicinal interest.
Visit a Portuguese Shiitake Mushroom Farm
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. Book your experience here
Our farm 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.
Shiitake Mushroom 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.
Medicinal Properties of the Shiitake Mushroom
Besides being an excellent edible mushroom, this mushroom has been studied for its therapeutic properties over the years, as it extracts some compounds with immunopotentiating effect, such as lentinan, a polysaccharide that seems to favor the immune response of the mushroom. our organism. Clinical trials have been conducted especially in Asian countries. Using lentinan in combination with chemotherapy treatments, the results point to increased life expectancy, improved immune system and improved quality of life of patients undergoing treatment for some cancers. Although it is still a little studied area, science has also been interested in the possible beneficial effects of aqueous extracts of this mushroom in the fight against diseases caused by fungi and viruses, which cause great damage in the agricultural sector, in order to isolate the active substances that may have benefits in the fight against these agents. In summary, several studies have shown antibacterial, antifungal and also growth inhibitory activity of microorganisms through various compounds isolated from this mushroom, revealing their high pharmacological interest.
See below other properties of the shiitake mushroom:
- It is rich in selenium (a mineral that contributes to blood vessel health and helps control the functioning of thyroid hormones);
- It has Vitamin B2 – also known as riboflavin, acts in the production of energy for the body. Five mushrooms a day provide 16% of the daily need for vitamin B2;
- Contains Niacin, or vitamin B3, which, like riboflavin, also acts to produce energy;
- It is a great source of Vitamin B9 (folic acid), essential nutrient for pregnant women;
- Has a good vitamin D concentration (only dehydrated mushrooms that have been exposed to the sun for drying);
- 75 g of shiitake provides 70% of copper requirements and 50% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin B5;
- Shiitake also contains a good concentration of zinc, manganese and calcium.
Shiitake Mushroom Benefits
Here are 8 reasons to include more shiitake in your diet:
1 – Helps to lose weight
With only 34 calories per 100g of fresh mushroom, shiitake is an excellent food to be part of a weight loss diet. In addition to being low in calories, the mushroom also provides a good amount of fiber – 2.5 g in the 100 g serving – a large percentage of water (75% in fresh food) and low carbohydrates (7 grams in the same serving). This means shitake helps you lose weight because it provides low calorie satiety and can be considered a low glycemic index food (which does not sharply raise blood glucose, one of the factors that lead to fat accumulation). And for those trying to cut down on animal protein intake, shiitake is one of the best options for making their meatless menu, as it has a good amount of protein and has consistency and flavor that resembles animal food.
2 – Lowers Cholesterol
Shitake contains erytadenine, a substance that, according to Swedish researchers, has the ability to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. Another study in Japan found that shitake increased the amount of cholesterol in the stools, which in turn reduced cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. This effect was verified in researches done with fresh mushroom and also with shitake extract.
3 – Helps Fight Cancer
Another compound that contributes to the properties of the shiitake mushroom is lentinana, which not only strengthens the immune system but also acts to prevent and fight cancer. Several studies have proven lentinan’s antitumor action, which would slow and slow the growth of some types of tumors. Some research conducted at reputable Japanese universities also talks about lentinana’s ability to cause regression and prevent 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 melanoma growth in rats after the animals received shiitake extract powder. One possible explanation for shiitake’s mechanism of action against cancer would be that lentinan (a type of betaglucan) stimulates the immune system and helps activate certain defense cells and proteins that are responsible for attacking 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 counteracting this excess of free radicals are called antioxidants, and can be found in abundance in plant foods, including shitake. In the case of this mushroom, there is one particular substance with a great antioxidant capacity: L-ergotionein, a potent compound capable of preventing free radical damage to healthy body cells. It is already proven that the accumulation of free radicals can cause these cells to mutate and eventually lead to cancer. A study released in 2005 at a meeting of the American Chemical Society revealed that mushrooms have a higher concentration of L-ergotionein than chicken liver and wheat germ, previously thought to be the largest known sources of this substance. The same researchers later found that shiitake contains a greater amount of L-ergotionein than all other mushrooms consumed by humans.
5 – Strengthens the Immune System
According to researchers, this may be considered as one of the greatest health benefits of shiitake mushroom. As we have seen, shiitake contains lentinan, a substance that acts on the body’s defense mechanism against disease-causing agents. It is now known that shiitake may even be more efficient than some medicines in combating infections caused by viruses and bacteria.
6 – Controls Blood Pressure
Preliminary studies have shown that yet another of the benefits of shiitake mushrooms is lowering blood pressure levels, preventing and even fighting hypertension. This property of shiitake is due to the presence of niacin, a vitamin that causes blood vessels to dilate, which in turn leads to a decrease in blood pressure.
7 – Protect Cardiovascular System
The benefits of shiitake mushrooms for the heart come in three ways:
- Regulates LDL levels, which when elevated increases the risk of coronary heart disease;
- Reduces the risk of arteriosclerosis (blockage of the arteries that can cause a heart attack);
- Controls Pressure – High blood pressure levels are associated with a number of cardiovascular complications.
8 – Prevent Thrombosis
Shiitake also contains lanthionine, a natural compound that inhibits platelet aggregation, preventing the formation of clots that block blood circulation. This benefit can be obtained through the consumption of shiitake oil or even through fresh mushrooms.