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Chinese shiitake mushroom: food as medicine

In China it is called the "mushroom of the Emperor" and "the elixir of life." Such high-profile titles are by no means an exaggeration, because in ancient years shiitake supplied to the imperial court, and his healing powers were offering to heaven.


Yesterday and today

The first mention of shiitake and its miraculous properties dates back to 199 year. And in the 10 century, it became the first mushroom, which began to be cultivated artificially, according to a special technology. In China and Japan, it was grown on the trunks of a shea tree, which in fact gave the name to the mushroom. Ancient healers, having carefully studied the effect of shiitake on the human body, to their surprise found a lot of useful qualities. It turned out that these fungi help to treat respiratory diseases, cleanse the liver of harmful substances, improve blood circulation, relieve fatigue and increase vitality, and also slow down the internal and external aging processes.

These and many other advantages have modern shiitake varieties, but with an important amendment. Today, there are several cultures of these fungi. In medicine and cosmetology apply a special medicinal variety of mushrooms, inconspicuous in appearance and bitter in taste. And those shiitake, which can be seen in restaurant dishes and on the shelves of supermarkets, are grown according to a simplified technology. And although they have an attractive appearance and excellent taste, their benefits to the body are reduced many times. It is necessary to take into account the fact that with prolonged heat treatment mushrooms lose valuable properties.


Recuperation from the inside

This shiitake contains dozens of different vitamins and minerals, essential amino acids for the body, fatty acids, dietary fiber and polysaccharides. In particular, a special polysaccharide lentinan that can suppress the development of cancer cells, as well as fight against influenza viruses and hepatitis. Regularly eating shiitake, you can cleanse the body of toxins, salts of heavy metals and radionuclides, and at the same time thoroughly strengthen the immune defense. The nutrients of the fungus stimulate the brain and nervous system, helping to fight chronic fatigue syndrome. It has a beneficial effect on shiitake and the circulatory system, contributing to the strengthening of the heart muscle, the elasticity of blood vessels and cleansing blood from cholesterol. There is evidence that shiitake helps to treat male infertility.

This mushroom goes well with many foods. However, it is recommended to eat it raw for maximum effect. Shiitake connoisseurs assure that the most delicious mushroom is the one with intricate patterns of cracks on the cap. Shiitake can also be drunk as a medicinal decoction or taken as a dietary supplement. However, it is important to consider some limitations. This mushroom should not be eaten by pregnant and lactating mothers, patients with bronchial asthma, as well as in the presence of intolerance to certain components. Be that as it may, if you plan on using Shiitake for medicinal purposes, be sure to enlist the advice of a doctor.



Transfiguration outside

Shiitake may well replenish the diet of those who care about ideal forms and irresistible beauty. Japanese scientists have experimentally discovered that people eating shiitake have a steady weight loss. It turned out that these mushrooms improve the carbohydrate metabolism, stimulate the work of all the digestive organs, and also help cleanse the intestines. In addition, the composition of shiitake were found special components that promote the burning of fat deposits.

A few centuries ago, Chinese healers discovered that the extract of this mushroom makes the skin extraordinarily elastic and smooth, giving it a smooth, matte shade. It is no coincidence that many modern cosmetic companies add shiitake based extractors to skin care products. The enzymes present in it contribute to the effective removal of dead cells of the epithelium, and the aforementioned lentinan "starts" the regeneration of new cells. Coenzyme Q10 promotes full absorption of oxygen and nutrients, however, cleanses the skin of free radicals. Shiitake-based cosmetics gently relieve skin irritation, treat acne and ulcers, reduce sebum secretion and make skin beautiful and well-groomed.


How to cook shiitake?

In China, the favorite dish with shiitake is the Buddha's Delight. It is prepared from mushrooms with the addition of bamboo sprouts, lily buds, ginkgo nuts and other exotic products grown exclusively in the Middle Kingdom. However, in traditional Russian recipes shiitake looks no less organic. The quickest and most accessible recipe is to fry shiitake for a few minutes in butter with salt and garlic, then add to rice, stewed meat or vegetables. If you then slightly shiitake in sour cream sauce, you get an original side dish with an unusual, but very pleasant taste. Shiitake is good and boiled, the main thing - do not overdo it in boiling water. A couple of minutes will be quite enough. To improve the taste, in addition to salt, it is necessary to put crushed garlic cloves and dill seeds in water. An interesting variation is obtained if you add a handful of peanuts to the mushrooms fried in butter, favorite spices to taste and keep the mixture on low heat for a couple of minutes. This snack can be used alone or combined with rice and fresh greens. Shiitake can be safely put in vegetable soups and meat broths, making it at the final stage. Remember that these mushrooms are cooked quickly and at gentle temperatures. Otherwise they will become rubber and will lose their exquisite taste notes.


Shiitake is a great addition to your everyday dishes and a very good find for the original festive menu. Experiment with new tastes and share your discoveries. 

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