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The small brown Shiitake mushroom is indigenous to Asia, but has made its way into America’s kitchens and medicine cabinets. The earthy, smoky flavor of the fungi adds depth to stir fries, soups, pastas and vegetarian dishes, and is not only tasty but beneficial to your health. Ask your doctor before using large quantities of shiitake mushrooms or supplements to be sure they are safe for your medical condition.
Boosts Immune Function.
The nutrients in shiitake mushrooms can boost your immune function, decreasing risk of infection and even improving symptoms of some illnesses, including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The World’s Healthiest Foods, an information resource associated with the George Mateljan Foundation, reports that shiitake mushrooms are high in several essential nutrients, including protein, iron and antioxidant vitamin C. These nutrients, as well as a compound called lentinan, can keep your immune system strong and resistant to infection in some cases. The active ingredients in shiitake mushrooms may also lower cholesterol levels, when eaten as part of a healthy, varied diet.
Protects Against Cancer
Lentinan, a compound in shiitake mushrooms, plays a role in protecting your body against cancer, as well as treating cancerous tumors, according to the American Cancer Society. Used primarily in traditional Asian medicine, shiitake mushrooms, either eaten as the vegetable or taken in the form of supplements, may slow or even reverse the progression of tumor growth, and can keep your body from replicating viruses that cause other serious illness, such as hepatitis.
Improves Appearance of Skin
Applying shiitake mushroom extract to your skin may improve its appearance, according to Skincare-News.com. Beauty products aimed at lightening your skin may contain mushroom extract because of its concentration of kojic acid, a natural alternative to hydroquinone, a chemical that bleaches your skin to fade scars and age spots. The antioxidant effects of shiitake are not limited to protecting your internal organs–skin creams and lotions that list mushroom extract as an ingredient may be able to minimize inflammation of the skin.