Following a healthy living plan and a healthy diet doesn't need to be boring - there are many fabulous foods available that are high in essential nutrients and as delicious as they are healthy – the shiitake mushroom is one glowing example of this.
Shiitake, like many other mushrooms, are often treated as though they are a vegetable, but as you may already be aware, mushrooms are actually classified as a fungus, and they differ from vegetables and plants due to the fact that they are devoid of roots , leaves, flowers and seeds.
The shiitake mushroom has been around since prehistoric times and their use in Chinese medicine dates back as far as 6000 years. References to shiitake have been found in some of the oldest books found that document the many different types of herbal medicines that have been used in traditional Asian culture far back into history.
Shiitake are considered to be a delicacy, and are well known for the nutrients that they contain which can provide many benefits when included as part of healthy diet. Shiitake are becoming more common on the supermarket shelves, and while the Japanese were historically the main producer of these delicious and nutritious treats, China now produces at least 80% of the shiitake that is sold commercially around the world, with Japan, Korea, Taiwan, the USA and Brazil also growing shiitake for consumption and export.
Shiitake - why are they good for you?
If you've already done a little research into what constitutes a healthy diet, you'll already be aware that there are a group of nutrients, called amino acids, which are essential for health. Shiitake mushrooms contain 7 of these essential amino acids, along with an additional 11 types of these nutrients. Shiitake mushrooms are also a valuable source of other essential nutrients, including; B vitamins B1, B2 and B3 - and if you eat them in their sun-dried form, they're also a great source of vitamin D. In addition to these nutrients, they are also high in both fibre and protein.
By including shiitake mushrooms into your healthy diet, you're immune system will benefit and become stronger, due to the presence of phytonutrients, and more specifically, the polysaccharide, lentinan.
Shiitake mushrooms - how should I try them?
As well as the many nutrients they provide and the fantastic health promoting properties that they offer, shiitake mushrooms also have a delightfully delicate texture, and a beautiful rich and smoky taste. With their ever-increasing popularity, it's easy to find shiitake in most supermarkets, so you have no excuse for not including them as part of your healthy living plan!
You're more likely to find a shiitake in a dehydrated form, so you can either reconstitute them by simmering them in water for 20 minutes, or simply chop them into very fine pieces and use them to sprinkle in your salads, soups or casseroles. Once you've tasted this nutrient-packed superfood, you'll probably find that they become a regular feature in your healthy diet campaign!
Shittake is one ingredient in Kirsty's signiture condiment, along with kelp and alfalfa it is added to all of Kirsty's healthy ready meals in powdered form to subtley enhance the flavour and greatly increase the nutritional profile - a great way of getting a tasty addition to your healthy diet.