Shiitake Mushrooms

By Holly Bieler
Updated on 28. Oct. 2020

Shiitake mushrooms have been used both in cooking and a naturopathic remedy for thousands of years. Read up on what makes this delicious Asian mushroom so healthy!

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Shiitake mushrooms...

  • ...are great for dieters.
    Shiitake mushrooms contain 0 fat and only 42 calories per 100 g serving, making them an optimal diet food.
  • ...are a great source of B vitamins.
    Shiitake mushrooms contain as many B vitamins as certain types of meat, making them an especially good ingredient for vegans and vegetarians.
  • ...strengthen nerves and muscles.
    Shiitake mushrooms are rich magnesium, which has been shown to help relieve muscle issues and pain from hand trembling to cramps. Magnesium also helps keep the heart healthy.
  • ...can have a hypoallergenic effect.
    Among the many beneficial ingredients of shiitake mushrooms are so-called triterpenes, which inhibit the release of histamines in the body and can thus prevent allergies or help to alleviate existing allergies.
  • ...boost the immune system.
    The triterpenes in shiitake mushrooms can also protect against colds, flu-like infections and other diseases, because they have proven antibacterial and antiviral effects.
  • ...can help lower cholesterol.
    Recent studies have shown that that eritadenin, a substance contained in shiitake mushrooms, might have a cholesterol-lowering effect.
  • ...can help protect the heart and blood vessels.
    In traditional Chinese medicine, shiitake mushrooms are used, among other things, as a remedy for heart and circulatory diseases. The substance adenosine contained in shiitake mushrooms has been proven to have a vasodilating effect and improve the blood circulation in the heart. The triterpenes simultaneously can help lower blood pressure.
  • ...can cause allergies in some.
    The allergy caused by shiitake mushrooms is rare, but at least frequent enough that doctors call it "shiitake-dermatitis". A typical symptom is extensive, itchy rashes. In severe cases, difficulty breathing can also occur.

What You Should Know About Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms are typically 5 inches wide, with brownish to reddish-brown top that is slightly curled. The lamellae (or lower rib) of shiitake mushrooms are particularly close together and change color according to age: very young mushrooms have white lamellae, somewhat riper varieties are more yellow, and the lamellae on older shiitake mushrooms turns reddish-brown.


Shiitake mushrooms have been consumed for centuries in Japan and China, where they grow wild. In Europe and the USA, shiitake mushrooms have become increasingly popular, but don't grow wild, necessitating cultivation in special greenhouses.  


Shiitake mushrooms are available year round.


Shiitake mushrooms have a rich, almost buttery taste and a texture that is reminiscent of meat.

Find all our recipes with shiitake mushrooms here.

How Healthy are Shiitake Mushrooms?

Shiitake mushrooms score points with a high protein content, few calories and zero grams of fat. Shiitake mushrooms are also rich in vitamins, vitamins C and D in particular, which are good for the nervous system and the bones. Shiitake mushrooms also have high levels of B vitamins, including essential B12. In Asia, shiitake mushrooms have been used for centuries as a naturopathic remedy against rheumatism and high cholesterol levels. Physicians also attribute healing properties to the shiitake mushroom: preliminary studies show that even small amounts of shiitake mushrooms might help reduce high blood pressure.

In some cases, the consumption of shiitake mushrooms can lead to allergic skin reactions, the so-called "shiitake dermatitis". The rash is very rare, but can occur in people who are sensitive to it.

Calories 42
Protein 1.6 g
Fat 0.2 g
Carbohydrates 12.3 g
Fiber 2 g

Shopping and Cooking Tips


When shopping, make sure that the shiitake mushrooms look plump and juicy and that the top isn't dried out. Remember that stains or "scales" on the mushroom top are not necessarily a sign of poor quality, but tend to be typical characteristics.


Shiitake mushrooms taste best when consumed as fresh as possible. However, they can also be stored for about 5-7 days in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator if they are wrapped loosely in paper so that they can "breathe". Very young shiitake mushrooms also last up to ten days at 35-40° F.


Preparing shiitake mushrooms is a breeze. Simply rinse under soft water, dab dry with a paper towel or ktichen rag and remove the dried stem ends. 

What to Make With Shiitake Mushrooms

The easiest way to prepare shiitake mushrooms is as follows: after cleaning them, briefly sauté them in some butter or olive oil and add finely chopped shallots and crushed garlic to taste. Prepared in this way, shiitake mushrooms taste delicious with meat, poultry, game, lamb, fish or egg dishes. Of course, these Asian delicacies also go perfectly with wok dishes. But you can also use shiitake mushrooms for a mushroom ragout, risotto, sliced meat, vegetable dishes or soups. Dried shiitake mushrooms are particularly aromatic and perfect for spicing up sauces, soups and ragouts - they only need to be soaked for about 20 minutes before use.

Tip: Only add salt and spices to shiitake mushrooms after cooking, so that their delicious aroma can fully develop.

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