Profiling: The Shimeji Mushroom

The Shimeji Mushroom is a group of edible mushrooms found mainly in Japan and in some parts of eastern Asia as a specialty mushroom.  As they have become more popularized in Europe and the United States these mushrooms have started to be cultivated overseas to keep up with demand, although in these countries they are more likely to be found in their dried form.  Shimeji is rich in umami compounds (that ‘je ne sais quoi’ of meaty taste variations) which is why including this in your normal meal plan can add a unique flavor profile.  Shimeji Mushrooms include a few different varieties that are readily available; Mycorrhiza and Saprotroph being the most popular.  Buy these guys from a reputable source rather than foraging on your own!

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Key Benefits

These mushrooms have been traditionally used in Japan as a defense against asthma.  They contain high potent levels of beta-glucans, which help to suppress allergic reactions in the body such as recurring asthma.  Beta-glucans are also well known and studied to give our immune systems a boost in helping us to naturally heal our bodies.  According to the National Cancer Institute in Japan, beta-glucan compounds, like the ones contained in these mushrooms, have been shown to successfully aide in remedying for slowing down and destroying growing tumors. Both an asthma helper and tumor blaster!

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Key Nutrients

Vitamin B1-Thiamine is a key vitamin for the body as it helps ti break down sugar.  It is also known to support heart and nerve health.

Vitamin B6- Helps the immune system to function optimally.  It aides in the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats and amino acids while maintaining healthy lymph node function. Vitamin B6 also helps to stabilize blood sugar levels.

Vitamin B9- Folate helps to strengthen and maintain healthy liver function.  Folate is also essential for women who are pregnant or may become pregnant.

Vitamin B12- Folic Acid helps to preserve our neurological function and DNA synthesis. It plays a key role in the health of red blood cells and helps our nervous system work optimally as well.

Dietary Fiber- Helps to stimulate digestion, relives indigestion, and constipation issues.

Potassium- An essential mineral for the body to help with fluid regulation, cardiovascular health and protein absorption. High levels of potassium have been associated with reduced risk for stroke, improved blood pressure, as well as improved bone health.

Zinc-Helps to promote proper immune function, controls blood sugar, energy metabolism, and aides in digestion.

Copper- Another essential mineral to help promote healthy connective tissue growth, proper heart rhythm, enzymatic reactions and proper growth overall.

Iron- Neurotransmitter function rely heavily on the adequate amount of iron to maintain a positive mood.  Therefore the lack of iron leads to poor sleep, energy, mood and could ultimately lead to anemia.

Selenium- A mineral that works as an antioxidant to protect body cells from damage that may lead to heart disease, some cancers and other diseases of aging.

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Where to find them

This is a more specialized variety of mushroom and may be more readily available in its dried form.  You can also search online to find a reputable retailer.

If you do find them in their raw form, they can be stored in the refrigeration for up to one week, in a sealed bag if possible. When prepping these mushrooms do not wash them, as they are quite porous and will become a soggy, waterlogged mess.  Rather wipe them gently with a damp paper towel or use a pastry brush to wipe away dirt.  Clean just prior to cooking, any sooner and the mushrooms will retain the water and become slimy.

Adding mushrooms to your diet is simple as they can be incorporated or become the star to any dish.  When cooked the nutrient content in the mushroom remains the same for this particular mushroom, while some nutrients lose between 5 and 20 percent of their value.

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