Five health benefits of shiitake mushrooms

Five health benefits of shiitake mushrooms and a fast fungi soup recipe.
By Julie Daniluk, R.H.N.
shiitake mushroom soup recipe Julie Daniluk, RHN

A study published in 2006 found shiitake mushrooms effective in protecting liver cells from toxins. Considering the liver is our major detox organ, it's a great idea to give it a break and try this ultra-fast shiitake soup (below). Instead of using cream, opt for the healthy cauliflower, which will create a smooth, milky-like finish. This recipe is great to make for a sick loved one and will come together in a fraction of the time it takes to make chicken noodle soup!

Here are five things the tasty fungi can do for your health:

1. Fight off the flu with shiitake mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms contain a unique compound called AHCC (Active Hexose Correlated Compound). This compound has been shown to increase your immune response after you have been exposed to the flu virus, so stock up on these mushrooms to stay healthy this winter.

2. Shiitake mushrooms can reduce the negative effects of conventional cancer treatments. The polysaccharides found in shiitake mushrooms can actually reduce the immune-compromising effects that are experienced with chemotherapy and radiation that lead to nausea, pain and hair loss. The healing effects of shiitake mushrooms can also help with liver function during and after treatment to aid in recovery.

3. Shiitake mushrooms are a great source of potassium so rest easy if you've been worried that your required potassium intake is at risk with rumours of the banana’s looming extinction. Potassium is necessary for a healthy heart and kidneys. Our kidneys need potassium to regulate how much fluid (and blood) is in our system. And, our risk of hypertension increases when we have too much sodium and not enough potassium in our diet.

4. Shiitake mushrooms have antibacterial properties. They contain an active compound called lentinan that has been found to have antibacterial properties against food-borne pathogens and other bacterial contamination that is ingested. 5. Shiitake mushrooms are a good source of vitamin D. We know that sunshine increases our vitamin D intake, and recent research suggests that mushrooms can do the same thing. When mushrooms make contact with sunlight, a reaction occurs, converting ergosterol to vitamin D. This naturally-occurring vitamin D has been shown to decrease the incidence of osteoporosis and improve calcium utilization in your entire body.

Five health benefits of shiitake mushrooms

Fast shiitake mushroom soup

Ingredients 8 cups (2 L) vegetable broth 6 cups (1.5 L) cauliflower, chopped 6 cups (1.5 L) shiitake mushrooms, chopped 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) pink rock or grey sea salt 1 tbsp (15 mL) apple cider vinegar 2 cups (500 mL) onions, chopped

Directions 1. Place all ingredients into a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce and cook for 20 minutes. 2. When finished, puree with immersion blender until smooth. 3. Serve warm, with a drizzle of pesto. Makes 12 servings.


Nutritionist Julie Daniluk hosts the Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show that looks at the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her soon to be published first book, Meals that Heal Inflammation, advises on allergy-free foods that both taste great and assist the body in the healing process.

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