Shiitake (Intinus edodes) are fungi belonging to the family Omphalotaceae. They commonly occur in the areas of East Asia, although they are also grown in other parts of the world. These are edible fungi and can be consumed after heat treatment; they taste great dried or marinated. Nevertheless, shiitake have become most popular as medicinal mushrooms.
Shiitake are extremely rich in valuable nutrients. They are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. In addition, they contain numerous bioactive substances such as polysaccharides, terpenoids and sterols, which determine the health-promoting properties of the fungi. Shiitake mushrooms also contain a unique eritadenine, which is a strong inhibitor of S-adenosyl-L-homocysteine hydrolase (SAHH). Thanks to this, they have the ability to lower cholesterol. They also show anti-cancer potential, attributed mainly to the systemic activity of the polysaccharide called lentinan.
Preparations containing Shiitake mushrooms are recommended as part of general preventive care. They support the strengthening of the immune system and regulate the inflammatory response of the body. In addition, they have antibacterial and antiviral activity. What is more, research suggests that they may also improve bone density.