Sunday, November 8, 2009
Shiitake & Lion's Mane
Okay, so this isn't going to just be a mushroom blog, I promise, but I've got a couple of magical eats that I gotta talk about, not just because of the health benefits, but also because they're delicious.
Tasty, readily available in most (good) grocery stores, these mushrooms are always my favorite choice when exotics aren't available. They taste great, are wonderful fried or in soups, and of course, have magical healing health benefits. Would you like me to tell you more? OF COURSE:
i.) Not shockingly, they're chock full of good stuff,B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, D2, iron, protein, and fiber.
ii.) Fuck a cancer! Really? I really found another way to fight cancer? I mean, if you guys are paying attention even a little bit, you should be cancer free already. Shiitakes are rich in Lentinan, which is a beta-glucan similar in nature to the D-fraction in Maitakes. Basically, there's lab results that show that Lentinan increases white blood cell count and generates reticular fibers which are known to eradicate both bacteria and cancerous cells. While there's no studies I can find on it, it seems sensible at least to assume that if you had Lentinan and D-fractions in your system at the same time, you'd be even better off. Beta-glucans for everybody!
iii.) Cholesterol is combated by eritadenine, another magical ingredient found in shiitakes.
iv.) HIV fighting! Thanks to the above mentioned Lentinan, white blood cell generating shiitakes have been recommended to people with HIV as a way to support western drug regiments.
v.) Blood pressure! Okay, so a double edged sword, if you have high blood pressure, this is great, if you have high blood pressure and are already on medication for it, or if you have some sort of really low blood pressure issues, not so great. As usual, see a doctor, etc.
WHAT TO DO WITH THEM:
So, best case scenario, get a cast iron grill, over an open flame, with butter and garlic and onions and maybe some black pepper, and you fry it to perfection. But really, these mushrooms are versatile and taste great weather fried, grilled, or sauteed, and I use them quite often in soups or pasta sauces. For people that aren't into the texture of mushrooms (get over it), I recommend getting dried mushrooms, grinding them up, and adding them to dishes where they won't be noticed. The best I've found for the picky eater lately is making cheesy mashed potatoes, you won't be overwhelmed and you will be healthier. These are also available in pill form for those that want the benefits but not the taste/texture.
Oh, beautiful exotic magic creature. How many ways can I express my love for the Lion's Mane? Probably a billion, so I'll try to narrow it down. Firstly, they're pretty mild to the taste on their own. But you know how vegans and vegetarians and everyone always says "oh, like tofu sucks up the flavor of like whatever, man"? Well, I'd like to put it like this: You can beat flavor into tofu. You can drown the tofu in flavor for hours, and it will have no choice to conform. You can shoot ray guns filled with flavor at tofu for days, and it will indeed become saturated in awesome flavor. Lion's Mane on the other hand? You whisper the word "flavor" to Lion's Mane, and our mushroom friend sucks it all up, and asks you if you have any more. Put the Lion's Mane in a room with a frying pan, and some butter, some garlic and onions, and just BLINK, and you are magically delighted by a delicacy that Kings and Queens are not worthy of.
But this isn't supposed to be a drool inducing foodie blog, where I tell you about the flaky and tender majesty that will remind you of the best sea food you've ever had, but be vague enough where you just can't place it, you just know you want more. This is a blog about health. So as you're devouring this amazingness, just remember, you're doing it for your health.
i.) Let's fight dementia! As someone who has been called crazy for YEARS, this seems like good news. Studies are showing that these guys stimulate the synthesis of Nerve Growth Factor, which would be helpful in fighting dementia as well as Alzheimer's.
ii.) There are anti-tumor properties, and it looks like there's been significant results when used specifically to fight hepatoma (liver cancer, basically).
iii.) Nerve regeneration! Okay, honestly, I don't get this THAT much. But here's the best that I've got in understanding: Myelin is an insulating material that helps electrical currents move along a nerve. That's probably REALLY dumbed down, but it's the best I've got. As Myelin breaks down, electrical information is less able to be sent along a nerve, and a nerve may break down completely due to the lack of Myelin. There is early (in vitro) research being done that would suggest that Lion's Mane mushrooms have the ability to increase myelination, which is basically the building of myelin around the nerve. When an extract from Lion's Mane was added to cells, myelination happened earlier and faster than when there wasn't myelination added to the cells. (I feel like a fifth grader writing a report on the moon, by the way). Anyway, there's a possibility that all of this could mean that these mushrooms have the ability to help with Multiple Sclerosis, as well as other nerve damage. So, yeah.
*NOTE: These mushrooms have MUCH less research information than some of the more typical and common mushrooms on the market. There could be other health benefits as well (white blood cell count increases, for example) that are early in the research stages. I've found a couple studies that say they're high in anti-oxidents for example, but nothing really conclusive. I will update later if I hear more, especially if I hear bad things. Oh, and Alicia, they do regulate (lower) blood sugar, thought I couldn't find specifics on how much.
WHAT TO DO WITH THEM:
You want to know what food heaven's like? Cut these into 1/4 inch cubes, drop them in a hot pan with butter and any seasoning you personally like to add to shrimp or lobster or seafood in general, and fry them. Great with fish, over rice or pasta, or any other way that you'd eat sea food. For the vegan/vegetarian that is missing that sea food taste, these would be a PERFECT replacement. For everyone else, they're just plain delicious. Sorry Chantrelles, our love affair was great, but you're going to have to take a back seat here. Lion's Mane are pretty difficult to find commercially, you might have to hunt them out. Trust me, it's worth the effort.
NO MORE MUSHROOMS!
Obviously that's not true. But I am taking a break, so that those kids that haven't figured out how awesome they are will be able to appreciate some health benefits from some other foods. Anyway. Stop getting sick, guys.