YRWYE: Shiitake?

April 26, 2007

I am pretty sure everyone have eaten it before. It is my favourite food!!! But Chinese do not call it “shiitake”. The shiitake is an edible mushroom and it is generally known in the English-speaking world by its Japanese name, shiitake (). In Chinese, we call it xiānggū (, lit. “fragrant mushroom”). Other names by which the mushroom is known in English include Chinese black mushroom and black forest mushroom. In Korean it is called pyogo (hangul: ; hanja: ), and in Thai they are called hed hom (เห็ดหอม, “fragrant mushroom”).

Why are we taking such a long introduction for shiitake? All because shiitake worths it.

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. Shiitake mushrooms have brown, slightly convex caps that range in diameter from about two to four inches in diameter. The scientific name for shiitake mushroom is Lentinus edodes.

These are some facts about shiitake that you probably are not aware of:

  • Do you know that shiitake have been used medicinally by the Chinese for more than 6000 years?
  • Do you know that it can enhance your immune system because it contains an active compound known as lentinan which can power up the immune system, strengthen its ability to fight infection and disease. Against influenza and other viruses, lentinan has been shown to be even more effective than prescription drugs; it even improves the immune status of individuals infected with HIV, the virus that can cause AIDS.
  • Do you know that it is one of the food that protects you against cancer because lentinan, which is technically classified as a polysaccharide and referred to as a branched beta-glucan, has also been shown to have anti-cancer activity?
  • Do you know that it is good for your heart because it helps in lowering your cholesterol level because it contains another active compound called eritadenine.
  • Do you know that it is one of the top food sources of potent antioxidant?
  • Do you know that shiitake are also one of a few known natural sources of vegan and vitamin D2?

After we know all these facts, probably we should start to add shiitake into our daily diet. This is a chart that shows how nutritious these shiitake mushrooms are:

Shiitake mushrooms, raw
8.00 oz-wt
226.80 grams
87.23 calories
iron 3.59 mg 19.9 4.1 very good
vitamin C 5.98 mg 10.0 2.1 good
protein 4.98 g 10.0 2.1 good
dietary fiber 2.49 g 10.0 2.1 good
World’s Healthiest
Foods Rating
excellent DV>=75% OR Density>=7.6 AND DV>=10%
very good DV>=50% OR Density>=3.4 AND DV>=5%
good DV>=25% OR Density>=1.5 AND DV>=2.5%

In Depth Nutritional Profile for Mushrooms, shiitake

[Source: whfoods.org]


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