A new University of Florida study shows increased immunity in people who ate a cooked shiitake mushroom every day for four weeks. Of the thousands of mushroom species globally, about 20 are used for culinary purposes. Shiitake mushrooms are native to Asia where they have been eaten for hundreds of years. They are cultivated for their culinary and medicinal value. They’re the second most popular and the third most widely cultivated edible mushroom in the world.
Shiitake Mushrooms Nutrition Facts
The shiitake is part of the Lentinula edodes species. It’s an edible mushroom native to East Asia. Because of its health benefits, it has been considered a medicinal mushroom in traditional herbal medicine, mentioned in books written thousands of years ago. Shiitakes have a meaty texture and woodsy flavor, making them the perfect addition to soups, salads, meat dishes and stir fries.
In a 2011 study led by UF Food Science and Human Nutrition Professor Sue Percival, 52 healthy adults, age 21 to 41, came to the Gainesville campus, where researchers gave them a four-week supply of dry shiitake mushrooms. Participants took the mushrooms home, cleaned and cooked them. Then they ate one, 4-ounce serving of mushrooms each day during the experiment.
Through blood tests before and after the experiment, researchers saw better-functioning gamma delta T-cells and reductions in inflammatory proteins.
If you eat a shiitake mushroom every day, you could see changes in their immune system that are beneficial, according to the study. We’re enhancing the immune system, but we’re also reducing the inflammation that the immune system produces.
To be eligible for the study, participants could not be vegans or vegetarians. They also could not drink tea, take antioxidant supplements or probiotics before the study. They also could not consume more than 14 glasses of alcoholic beverages per week or eat more than seven servings of fruits and vegetables per day during the experiment.
Fiber, tea and probiotics help the body’s immune system, so researchers didn’t want to start with people who already had a strong immune system. Additionally, that much alcohol could suppress immunity.
The study was published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. The above story is based on materials provided by University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.