Shiitake, the fungus of longevity: Benefits, Dose, Danger

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  1. Shiitake
  2. What is shiitake?
  3. Nutritional Composition
  4. The benefits of shiitake
    1. Potentially against cancer
    2. Stimulates the immune system
    3. Protects the heart
    4. Source of Vitamin D
  5. How do you eat shiitake?
    1. I prefer organic shiitake
    2. Fresh Shiitake
    3. Dry shiitake
    4. Shiitake as a dietary supplement
  6. Dose
  7. Contraindications and side effects
  8. History and culture today
  9. You are well registered, see you soon!
  10. You may be interested:



  • Potentially anti-cancer
  • Stimulates the immune system
  • Protects the heart
  • Source of Vitamin D

Photo samer daboul in Pexels

What is shiitake?

The shiitake is also known as edible oak or lentin - a literal translation of its Latin name, Lentinula Edodes). In gastronomy, it is known as a flavored mushroom or a black mushroom.

It is native to Southeast Asia, where it has been known for 7,000 years. The oldest written record of Shiitake dates from 199 BC, when the Chinese offered it to the Emperor of Japan.

Today, this mushroom is the second most cultivated species after the button mushroom. The Chinese have dominated its cultivation on logs since the eleventh century and are now the largest producers in the world.

This small fragrant mushroom is the second most cultivated mushroom species in the world.

Shiitake is used in both traditional medicine and gastronomy. It is found fresh or dried in many Chinese, Japanese and Korean recipes.

In the last twenty years, Europe and the United States have begun to take an interest in the consumption of this mushroom, navigating through the interest in oriental culture.

Westerners have been seduced by the taste and therapeutic virtues of this super mushroom: immune system booster, anti-inflammatory, good for the heart and vision and even anti-cancer!

As a natural remedy, it is consumed dry, in capsules or as a liquid extract. Shiitake has an amazing concentration of vitamins and rare nutritional virtues for a single food.

Shiitake, a basic ingredient of Asian cuisine and traditional Chinese medicine

Nutritional Composition

  • Protein
  • 18 amino acids (including 7 of the 8 essential ones)
  • Fibers
  • Vitamins: D, B2, B3, B5 and B6
  • Minerals and trace elements: copper, selenium and zinc
  • Polysaccharide: lentinan

The benefits of shiitake

Potentially against cancer

Shiitake contains lentinan, its main active ingredient, which is at the origin of its anti-cancer virtues. This polysaccharide (sugar), has anti-tumor virtues.

In China and Japan, lentinan is used to help treat stomach cancer. It has also been claimed that shiitake would destroy the human papillomavirus (HPV) and therefore protect against cervical cancer, but scientific research supporting this claim is lacking.

This study, conducted by Nanchang University in China, investigated the role of polysaccharides, in particular lentinan, in the development of certain cancers.

This other study, conducted by two Indian universities, shows the effectiveness of lentinan in reducing the spread of leukemia cancer cells.

Stimulates the immune system

It is also the lentinan that has properties that stimulate the immune system.

In Asia it is used as a drug extract to help patients undergoing chemotherapy or people with HIV to strengthen their immune system.

On the other hand, European health authorities believe that the effectiveness of shiitake in strengthening the immune system has not been established.

This study conducted by different universities in Brazil and the United States with 52 people, shows the effectiveness of shiitake on the markers of the immune system (levels of inflammation...).

Protects the heart

There are several factors that make shiitake good for the cardiovascular system.

Many of its chemical compounds, such as sterols or beta-glucans, have anti-cholesterol properties.

This study from the Korea Forest Research Institute in Seoul shows the richness of shiitake in beta-glucans and its action against hypertension and high cholesterol.

Another Korean study conducted on rats showed that those who ate shiitake had a healthier liver, less clogged arteries and less cholesterol than those who did not eat mushrooms.

Source of Vitamin D

Shiitake is one of the few vegetable sources of vitamin D, with 154 mg per 100g.

Vitamin D is essential for the proper functioning of the body through its role in bone mineralization.

It also plays a role in preventing fractures and cardiovascular accidents. Adequate intake of vitamin D is essential in children - for growth, and in the elderly - to prevent falls and osteoporosis.

It is mainly found in fatty fish, offal and dairy products. Vitamin D also binds well in the sun.

This is why shiitake is recommended to vegetarians, who need to find an intake of vegetable vitamin D, and to people with little sun exposure, who often have a deficiency.

How do you eat shiitake?

I prefer organic shiitake

Fungi are among the organisms that absorb soil contamination: in a highly contaminated environment, it is preferable not to consume the specimens that grow there.

That is why it is always better to know the origin of the mushrooms you eat.

Since shiitake is a cultivated mushroom, it is possible to eat it organically. You can find organic shiitake, fresh or dried, in organic stores or on the internet. You can even buy organic shiitake mushrooms grown in France or grow them at home!

Fresh Shiitake

Shiitake is delicious with noodles and sautéed vegetables.

Shiitake can be eaten as a food in itself, to be cooked like a button mushroom. Fresh, it can be eaten stir-fried or grilled, as an accompaniment to meats or starchy foods or in a wok with other vegetables.

Its aromatic fragrance resists long cooking times: therefore, it can also be simmered or steamed. Although it can be eaten raw, it is preferable to cook it due to possible inflammatory reactions.

As with all mushrooms, it is not recommended to rinse it before eating it as it can be flooded. They can be quickly washed with a vegetable brush to remove any residue.

Dry shiitake

Dried shiitake is often found on the shelves of Asian or health food stores.

Dry shiitake has more or less the same nutritional values as fresh shiitake, so you can consume one or the other to take advantage of its therapeutic virtues.

Before consumption, dry shiitake is rehydrated in water or broth for one hour.

Shiitake as a dietary supplement

Shiitake can be consumed as a dietary supplement. In this case, it is found in the form of capsules (dry shiitake reduced to powder), liquid extract, ampoules or vials.

In Asian countries, lentinan is also found in isolated extracts, used as a medicine.

However, it is considered preferable to consume the mushroom in its entirety so as not to deprive yourself of its richness in fiber, vitamins and minerals.


It is recommended to eat from 6 to 16 g per day to benefit from its therapeutic effects.

It can be consumed at any time, especially since there is no true seasonality for this cultivated mushroom. Rich in vitamins, low in calories and delicious: you can eat it regularly to stay healthy.

In food supplement, it can be prescribed in case of a fall of the immune system (occasional or chronic disease, convalescence, change of season...). Sometimes in case of mild hypercholesterolemia. In this case, the dose must be advised by a doctor or a naturopath. It can also be taken as a cure, without exceeding six to eight weeks to avoid addiction.

Contraindications and side effects

  • It is safe if cooked well, but raw shiitake should not be eaten because it can cause skin diseases (a rash of tiny pimples called flagellar dermatitis).
  • It is not recommended for people suffering from hypereosinophilia (abnormal increase in white blood cells).
  • Occasionally, shiitake can cause cases of hypereosinophilia or allergies.
  • Consumption of this fungus can also cause mild intestinal problems due to its high fiber content.

History and culture today

The shiitake is a mushroom that resembles the button mushroom in shape, with a thinner foot and a light brown hat. Shiitake is now very rarely found in nature.

Therefore, all those that are commercially available come from varieties grown in the cellar or outdoors.

The most sought-after Shiitakés are those with a thick white striped hat with a design that can sometimes remind one of the shape of a flower, hence their nickname "mushroom-flower".

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Although Asians are still champions of shiitake cultivation, some producers also grow it in France, where it acclimates well. It is better to favour the French shiitake to lighten its carbon footprint.

Shiitaké can be cultivated in different ways: the traditional way, as practiced by the Japanese, is done on wooden logs placed outside in a humid place.

The wood preferred by the shiitaké ("oak lining") is oak, the medium in which it grows in nature.

The Chinese grow it instead in sawdust, a more economical and ecological way of growing it.

Shiitake can also be found in straw or other organic waste: shiitake is a saprophytic fungus, that is, it feeds on decomposing plants: in nature, its preferred medium would be an old stump.

Shiitake can also be grown at home. Growing kits are commercially available for growing on logs or in sawdust or straw bales.

Patience is essential as incubation times are very slow, but its taste and freshness are invaluable.

Finally, you can even find organic and Parisian shiitake, grown on an urban farm in a disused parking lot in the north of the capital!

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