Traditionally Used for:
help prevent and treat cancer,
and stimulate the immune system.
it has eight amino acids as well as vitamins and minerals including B6, B2 (riboflavin), niacin, and selenium. One cup of cooked shiitake has only 81 calories, is low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and is a good source of dietary fiber. It may also be good for your looks: Some beauty products now contain shiitake extracts.
The beneficial properties of shiitake mushrooms have been prized in traditional Chinese medicine for over 6,000 years. The Asian fungi were mentioned in some of the earliest medical texts known for their health-giving properties. The Chinese believe that shiitake are more like animals than plants, and are even thought to have a social aspect to their lives. They do not grow wild in the US, and are native only to parts of Asia, but have been cultivated in the US extensively in the past few decades. In the 1930's the Japanese developed a way to cultivate them using saw cuts in wood, and by drilling holes in cut wood. They have since become the second most cultivated mushroom in the world. There has been an even faster method of cultivation developed using sawdust blocks, but these are considered to be inferior to the others, selling for as much as 10 times less on the market. They have grown more popular in the US as the general population have embraced ethnic cooking, particularly Asian flavors, and their popularity has only been helped by the growing medical reports that various constituents in shiitake and other Asian mushrooms provide a number of healthy benefits.