It’s no secret that shiitake mushrooms are one of the healthiest foods on the planet, used extensively in ancient Chinese medicine.

Scientists have now proven that shiitake mushrooms offer antiviral, cholesterol-lowering and cardiovascular support, and amazingly, properties in just the right amounts to augment the immune system, revving it up or leveling it off where needed.

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Immune cells called macrophage, for instance, are responsible for identifying and removing potentially cancerous cells from the body, including colon cancer cells; enzymes called cytochrome are known to metabolize carcinogens in the body.

Lentinan, a potent antifungal protein in shiitake mushrooms, was found to have cancer-preventing properties. One study resulted in slower development of smaller tumors after oral treatment with lentinan. It also exhibited a reduction in the negative effects in the progression of HIV and ability of leukemia cells to proliferate.

Another study found that the spores (mycelia) of shiitake mushrooms can have protective abilities on the liver, suppress inflammation, and even have cancer-preventive properties for patients with chronic hepatitis.

 

Two fresh shiitake mushrooms isolated on white background

At the same time, shiitakes enjoy gourmet status in the culinary world, which is why they’re carefully produced through the labor-intensive method of forest farming. Sliced and sautéed with butter and parsley, they release a tantalizing flavor unknown to other foods.

Shiitake Mushroom Production

Although they still grow wild, China yields around 80% of the world market in production, although Japan held this distinction initially. Today, more than 200 growers in the U.S. utilize the labor-intensive but superior “forest farming” method to produce shiitake mushrooms on hardwood logs. “Grow-at-home” kits prepared by mushroom specialty companies also maintain a lively business.

Shiitake mushrooms still grow wild in mountainous regions of Asia, but nowhere in the United States or anywhere else. Scientists have discovered a possible correlation between typhoon wind patterns and the scattering of shiitake spores dispersed from one country to the other.

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Shiitake Mushroom Healthy Recipes: Chicken with Crimini and Shiitake Mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 8 skinless and boneless organic chicken thighs or breast
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6 teaspoons chopped marjoram, divided
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 12 ounces crimini and shiitake mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 1 cup onion, chopped finely
  • ¾ cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup organic raw whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons dry sherry/marsala (optional)

Procedure:

  • Season chicken with salt and pepper, and add 2 teaspoons marjoram. Melt 1 tablespoon coconut oil with 1 tablespoon olive oil in large pan over moderate to high heat.
  • Add chicken to pan and sauté until just cooked through, about 7 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to plate; cover with lid to keep warm.
  • Melt remaining tablespoon of coconut oil with 1 tablespoon of olive oil in same pan. Add mushrooms, onions, and 2 teaspoons marjoram. Sauté until mushrooms are brown and tender, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl.
  • Combine broth, cream and sherry (if using) and remaining 2 teaspoons marjoram in same pan, boil until thickened and reduced to ½ cup, about 5 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper.
  • Divide mushrooms among four plates. Top mushrooms with chicken. Spoon sauce over and serve.

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