Featured Product: ORGANIC RED SUPERFOODS

Healing * Energizing * Restorative

Red is the New Green!

Reds have seriously captured our attention since nutritional scientists the world over are reporting on their special properties. Or should we say super powers? Our new Reds superfood powder is based upon hundreds of published studies. PubMed, the free search engine maintained by the National Institutes of Health, affirms the powerful, far-reaching health benefits of red super foods. Taste the power of Canada’s most potent blend of organic red superfood fruits and vegetables. A convenient, ready-to-use superfood powder concentrate made with: Beet Roots, Pomegranates, Goji Berries, Grapeseed, Carrots, Blueberries, Strawberries, Raspberries & Cranberries. Natural food-source antioxidants protect, heal, energize and restore. Gluten-free. Certified organic. Non-GMO. Vegan. No added sugars, preservatives, colours, artificial sweeteners or flavours.

 

How to Make Perfect Guacamole

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Guacamole, a dip made from avocados, is originally from Mexico. The name is derived from two Aztec Nahuatl words—ahuacatl (avocado) and molli (sauce).

All you really need to make guacamole is ripe avocados and salt. After that, a little lime or lemon juice—a splash of acidity to balance the richness of the avocado. Then comes chopped cilantro, chiles, onion, and tomato, if you want.

The trick to making perfect guacamole is using good, ripe avocados. Check for ripeness by gently pressing the outside of the avocado. If there is no give, the avocado is not ripe yet and will not taste good. If there is a little give, the avocado is ripe. If there is a lot of give, the avocado may be past ripe and not good. In this case, taste test first before using.

How to Make Perfect Guacamole Recipe

Print

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2-4

Be careful handling chiles if using. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling and do not touch your eyes or the area near your eyes with your hands for several hours.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 ripe organic avocados
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher / Himalayan salt
  • 1 Tbsp of fresh organic lime juice or lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp to 1/4 cup of minced organic red onion or thinly sliced organic green onion
  • 1-2 organic serrano chiles, stems and seeds removed, minced
  • 2 tablespoons organic cilantro (leaves and tender stems), finely chopped
  • A dash of freshly grated black pepper
  • 1/2 ripe organic tomato, seeds and pulp removed, chopped

Garnish with organic red radishes or jicama. Serve with gluten free tortilla chips.

1 Cut avocado, remove flesh: Cut the avocados in half. Remove seed. Score the inside of the avocado with a blunt knife and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. (See How to Cut and Peel an Avocado.) Place in a bowl.

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2 Mash with a fork: Using a fork, roughly mash the avocado. (Don’t overdo it! The guacamole should be a little chunky.)

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3 Add salt, lime juice, and the rest: Sprinkle with salt and lime (or lemon) juice. The acid in the lime juice will provide some balance to the richness of the avocado and will help delay the avocados from turning brown.

Add the chopped onion, cilantro, black pepper, and chiles. Chili peppers vary individually in their hotness. So, start with a half of one chili pepper and add to the guacamole to your desired degree of hotness.

Remember that much of this is done to taste because of the variability in the fresh ingredients. Start with this recipe and adjust to your taste.

4 Cover with plastic and chill to store: Place plastic wrap on the surface of the guacamole cover it and to prevent air reaching it. (The oxygen in the air causes oxidation which will turn the guacamole brown.) Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Chilling tomatoes hurts their flavor, so if you want to add chopped tomato to your guacamole, add it just before serving.

Variations

For a very quick guacamole just take a 1/4 cup of salsa and mix it in with your mashed avocados.

Feel free to experiment! One classic Mexican guacamole has pomegranate seeds and chunks of peaches in it (a Diana Kennedy favorite). Try guacamole with added pineapple, mango, or strawberries.

The simplest version of guacamole is just mashed avocados with salt. Don’t let the lack of availability of other ingredients stop you from making guacamole.

To extend a limited supply of avocados, add either sour cream or cottage cheese to your guacamole dip. Purists may be horrified, but so what? It tastes great.

For a deviled egg version with guacamole, try our Guacamole Deviled Eggs!

Read more: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/perfect_guacamole/#ixzz4KRkUXM1T

Thinking About Boosting Your Brain Power?

NEURO FORCE ORGANIC GROCER SEPTUntil recently, it was believed that the typical human brain, containing about 100 billion nerve cells (neurons) could neither repair nor regenerate itself. We know better now. We know that we truly are able to protect, restore and enhance brain and neurological function. That’s what Neuro-Force™ from Prairie Naturals is designed to do for people of all ages.

 

What is Neuro-ForceTM & What Does It Do? Neuro-Force™ is a research-based natural health product formulated by natural health care experts to improve brain health and support daily cognitive wellness. Neuro-Force™ provides safe, effective and timely cognitive and neurological benefits. These benefits also include improved memory and enhanced mental focus.

 

What are the Ingredients in Neuro-ForceTM?

 

All the ingredients in Neuro-Force™ have been tested for purity and potency in an independent Canadian laboratory licensed by Health Canada. The ingredients in Neuro-Force™ are:

 

Docosahexanoic acid (DHA) – Think about it. Sixty percent of our brain is made up of fat and DHA, an omega 3 fat, makes up 15-20 percent of the brain’s cerebral cortex! When DHA intake is inadequate, nerve cells become stiff and more prone to inflammation which impedes intracellular neurotransmission.

Research shows that low levels of DHA are linked to memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease while adequate levels restore cognitive abilities, improve rate of learning, reduce mental decline and prevent brain degeneration.

 

Vinpocetine – Researchers report that vinpocetine increases blood flow to the brain, reduces inflammation and protects
the central nervous system against degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Students and people of all ages wanting to enhance brain power have been shown to benefit from its use. Many studies have also concluded that vinpocetine has an exceptional ability to reverse the signs of brain, skin and nerve aging.

 

Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ) -First identified in 1979, this vitamin-like compound has a wide range of benefits to brain function! As an extremely powerful antioxidant and nerve growth factor stimulant, PQQ supplemented diets show remarkable benefits including improved memory and cognitive functions with increased cerebral blood flow; reversal of cognitive impairment caused by chronic oxidative stress and improved performance on memory tests; brain and nerve cell protection; stroke reduction.

 

Bacopa Monnieri Extract -A recent study published in the journal Aging (March 2016) shows that this herbal extract exerts “a neuroprotective effect against mental diseases, such as depression, anxiety and Alzheimer’s disease.” The researchers found that Bacopa monnieri extract reduced learning deficits, improved long-term spatial memory, and reduced brain plaque load. Designated as having neuroprotective effects, the researchers suggested it be considered as a novel treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Alpha GPC-L-alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine is a recently developed cognitive enhancer involved in the release of free choline which is then utilized for acetylcholine and phosphatidylcholine biosynthesis in the brain.  This unique phospholipid helps repair brain cell membranes and counteract cognitive impairment related to dementia, brain injuries and stroke.

 

Neuro-ForceTM is made in Canada and licensed by Health Canada as a compliant Natural Health Product (NPN). Neuro-Force™ is gluten-free and does not contain soy, dairy, egg, corn, artificial colours, sweeteners or preservatives.

 

Who Needs Neuro-ForceTM?

 

Whether you’re cramming for an important exam or just feeling the brain strain of daily life, the nootropic benefits of Neuro-Force™ can help you remember better and think more clearly. Nootropics (pronounced noh-oh-troh-piks) are a category of substances that are commonly referred to as “smart drugs” for enhancing cognition and memory and facilitating learning. NeuroForce CouponNootropics work to boost brain neurochemicals – neurotransmitters, enzymes, and hormones – by improving the brain’s oxygen supply and stimulating nerve growth. This unique group of memory and learning-enhancing substances also protect the brain against physical and chemical injury, including oxidation.

NeuroForce will be on sale next week – plus there’s a $2 Off coupon at the tills.  Pop in to get ready for back to school, or just to boost your brain power!

Joys of Sprouts

In the worship of Demeter, goddess of the harvest, the ancient Greeks beheld the mysteries of life itself in the simplicity of the single grain of wheat. They understood the incredible potential of the tiny seed. In it lies the power to sustain, nourish and satisfy. In the germination and sprouting process is contained the vital energies which transform the seed into a tall strong plant which can ultimately reproduce itself many times over.

And so today we are rediscovering, in our own homes, these very mysteries. Sprouted seeds and legumes are being eaten and enjoyed in unprecedented quantities in the 21st century. Sprouting provides fresh salad ingredients any time of year and is a fun thing to do with even very young children.

Nutritionally, sprouted seeds contain vitamins, minerals, enzymes, oxygen and proteins in an absorbable forms, which the most sophisticated supplement pill could not rival. Starches become simple natural sugars, splitting long-chain amino acids and converting saturated fats into free fatty acids, providing more nutrients gram for gram than any other known natural food.

Sprouting easily satisfies the demands of 21st century sustainability – it’s cheap, it’s fast, it doesn’t take up much space and, hey, it’s even FUN – on top of being so completely good for you! Here are some tips to get you started.

Overnight: soak almonds, hazels, cashews, sunflower seeds, etc.  Then drain & rinse.  Store in the fridge in a sealed container for just a day or two.   This is enough to improve digestibility and flavour; add them to salads or to cooked rice.

Sprout for 3-5 days: following a simple soaking and rinsing system, alfalfa seeds, lentils, beans, wheat germ, will produce succulent shoots, providing a little salad patch in the tiniest corner of your own kitchen.

After soaking seeds or grains to grow shoots, make sure to keep the water. It now contains enzymes, vitamins and minerals that can benefit your houseplants.BANNER-Joys of sprouts-300x250

If you’re interested in starting your own kitchen garden we’ve got what you need to get started.  BioSnacky produces a small
jar with a screw-on mesh lid and integral stand, so that you can easily drain off water. There is also a 3-tiered set of trays, which allows you to sprout several varieties of seed without any extra effort.  BioSnacky also offers a nice selection of organic seeds for growing at home, and we’ve got other grains and seeds in the bulk section that are viable for sprouting too!

Come in and ask a customer service consultant for tips!

Article provided by A.Vogel

Life is Good at the Factors Farm

Located on United Boulevard in Coquitlam BC, Natural Fators Farm is the newest extension of a local natural comapny that has been around since 1950!  Today, Natural Factors is one of the largest manufacturers of nutritional products in North America.  Right from day one, they’ve been fully committed to making products right. They are not a public company with shareholders to impress. Instead, they care about impressing their customers.  Here’s what they’ve got to say about the new movement in natural supplementation:

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Working Hard

Local, whole, and good for you: get to know your supplements

We’ve been getting to know our food a bit better in recent years. Not in in an up-close-and-personal kind of way – we don’t need our chicken to have a name and hobbies (though a chicken who could juggle might make for an interesting marketing campaign). No, we want to know that our food was grown in a way that’s good for us, for farmers, and for the environment. We want to know our kale was tended by people who care about the earth, and not just the bottom line. We want to know that the nutrients in our strawberries fulfill the promise of their ruby red colour. And what about the nutrients we take in the form of vitamin, mineral, and herbal supplements?

Well, yes, we want to get to know those, too.

After all, whole foods aren’t just a trend at the dinner table. Today’s nutritional supplements are capturing the benefits of whole foods – such as Natural Factors’ Whole Earth & Sea line, with offerings from multivitamins to bone-health formulas, and more. Like that heirloom tomato from your local farmers’ market, whole food-based supplements bring you the best of what nature has to offer, plus all the benefits of locally grown, locally produced goods.

 

Whole foods vs. isolated nutrients

The best way to get nutrients is from whole foods. Plants provide a broad spectrum of nutrients, from vitamins and minerals to enzymes and phytonutrients, and the whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts. Research suggests that nutrients from whole, raw foods are team players; in other words, a valuable synergy allows key vitamins and minerals to work more effectively together, and makes them more bioavailable, so your body can absorb them easily.

Arguably, this means we would fill our plates with an abundance of fresh fruits and veggies three times a day, every day. And if you’ve figured out how to come up with fresh, home-cooked meals while juggling work, kids, exercise, and if you’re lucky, a social life, call us. No, really – you’ve stumbled upon the secret of life, and we want in. For the rest of us, whole food supplements like Whole Earth & Sea can take the pressure off a little.

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Organic Echinachea

It’s all about soil

Organic farmers often joke that they grow healthy soil – veggies are just a happy side effect. Like all good jokes, there’s truth in it. After decades of mismanaged soil thanks to the advent of chemical agriculture, certified organic farmers are experiencing a renaissance. Healthy organic soil contains all the vital nutrients that plants need to thrive, and foods grown organically have been shown to contain higher levels of key antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals.

Growing organic herbs, fruits, and veggies for whole food supplements makes perfect sense, according to Jan Slama, Research Scientist for Natural Factors in Kelowna, BC: “The purpose is to control the quality of our products from the ground up.” Jan is speaking of Factors Farms, a certified organic farm in BC’s fertile Okanagan Valley where many of the ingredients for Whole Earth & Sea are sourced.

At Factors Farms, Spring is in the air, and seeds are being sown for another season of locally grown herbs and supplements. 25 years of organic, non-GMO farming experience have taught the farmers here just what it means to grow high-quality ingredients. Soon, the fields will be bursting with colourful echinacea, vibrant greens, and sweet, antioxidant-rich berries. Fertilized only with compost and nitrogen-rich sea plants and meticulously cared for by hand, the plants are harvested at their peak and, just down the road, they’re raw processed to preserve those delicate antioxidants.

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 The Feilds

Local does it better

Those fields of green could be grown almost anywhere on the planet, but for Jan and the team at Natural Factors, growing at home is important. Sure, you can find Natural Factors and Whole Earth & Sea across North America, but they act more like your friendly neighbour than anything else.

And that’s important to Jan, who says “Canadians want local, organic herbals that they can trust.” For many of us, that means food and supplements grown right here in our own backyard, with all the benefits that come with buying locally grown, locally produced goods: a boost for the local economy, local jobs, sustainability, and healthier communities.

If you’ve made room on your plate for local whole foods, be sure to make room in your medicine cabinet too.
After all, life’s a healthy feast – enjoy it whole!

Shiitake Mushrooms

Long a symbol of longevity in Asia because of their health-promoting properties, shiitake mushrooms have been used medicinally by the Chinese for more than 6,000 years. More recently, their rich, smoky flavor has endeared them to American taste buds. These exotic hearty mushrooms can now be found in supermarket shelves across the U.S. throughout the year.

Like other mushrooms, these specialty mushrooms are as mysteriously unique as they are delicious. While often thought of as a vegetable and prepared like one, mushrooms are actually a fungus, a special type of living organism that has no roots, leaves, flowers or seeds.

What’s New and Beneficial about Shiitake Mushrooms

  • Although immune system support has often received much of the spotlight in shiitake mushroom research, recent study results involving support of the cardiovascular system have caught the attention of many researchers. In particular, recent studies have shown the ability of shiitake mushrooms to help protect us against cardiovascular diseases (including atherosclerosis) by preventing too much immune cell binding to the lining of our blood vessels. In order for immune cells and other materials to bind onto our blood vessel linings, certain protein molecules—called adhesion molecules—must be produced and sent into action. By helping to block the adhesion molecule production process, substances in shiitake mushrooms can help protect our blood vessels. (The adhesion molecule production that is partially blocked by shiitake mushroom components includes the adhesion molecules ICAM-1, VCAM-1, and E-selectin.)
  • Shiitake mushrooms have long been recognized as a very good, non-animal food source of iron. But a recent preliminary study has determined that the bioavailability of iron from shiitake mushrooms may be even better than we thought. Although conducted on laboratory animals (female rats) rather than humans, this study found the iron in dried shiitake mushroom to be equally as bioavailable as supplemental iron in the form of ferrous gluconate. (Ferrous gluconate is a very commonly used low-dose iron supplement.) While we don’t usually spotlight research on laboratory animals, we found this result to be especially promising for individuals who consume little or no animal products and are often looking for foods that can supply valuable amounts of bioavailable iron.
  • Shiitake mushrooms can be one of the most sustainable foods in your diet! While the majority of shiitake mushrooms produced worldwide have been grown on sawdust block in a non-natural setting, it is fully possible for shiitake mushrooms to be produced on natural hardwood logs in a forest setting. This approach to shiitake mushroom production is called “forest farming” and it has become an especially popular way of growing shiitake mushrooms in the U.S, where there are now more than 200 shiitake mushroom growers. Unfortunately, forest farming is not a requirement for organic certification of shiitake mushrooms. However, all of the plant crop standards in the National Organics Program regulations apply to shiitake mushroom production, and so the combination of these two features—certified organic shiitake mushrooms that have also been forest farmed—can make a great food choice in terms of sustainable agriculture. Just look for the USDA’s organic logo on your shiitake mushrooms to determine if they are certified organic. Then check for information about forest farming on the packaging. If no information is provided, there is a good chance that your shiitake mushrooms were not forest farmed. For this reason, we encourage you to ask your store staff or contact the product manufacturer to determine if your shiitake mushrooms were grown on hardwood logs in a natural forest environment.

Shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms are widely referred to as “medicinal mushrooms” due to their long history of medical use, particularly in oriental medicine traditions. It’s important to distinguish, however, between extracts and medicinal preparations made from these mushrooms and their appearance as whole foods in an everyday diet. Most of the medicinal research on shiitake mushrooms has been conducted on laboratory animals or on individual cells studied in a laboratory setting. There are hundreds of lab and animal studies that clearly document the medicinal properties of shiitake mushroom extracts. As important as these studies are in a medical context, they are still very different from studies that examine shiitake mushroom as a common and beloved food.

In contrast to the wealth of medicinal research on shiitake mushrooms, there are very few studies on shiitake mushrooms in the human diet. Among the human dietary studies that do exist, however, there is a clear message about shiitake mushrooms: they can provide us with some fantastic health benefits. Below are areas of health support that make the top of our list for shiitake mushrooms when enjoyed as a whole food.

Immune Support

No health benefit is better documented for shiitake mushroom than immune support. In fact, the immune support track record for this mushroom is fascinating. On the one hand, numerous studies have shown the ability of whole shiitake mushrooms to help prevent excessive immune system activity. On the other hand, an equal number of studies have shown the ability of shiitake mushrooms to help stimulate immune system responses under certain circumstances. In other words, from a dietary perspective, shiitake mushrooms appear able to enhance immune function in both directions, giving it a boost when needed, and cutting back on its activity when needed. It’s important to note that dietary shiitake mushroom intake—unlike intake of medicinal shiitake extracts—has not been shown to be strongly suppressive of the immune system or strongly activating. From our perspective, this finding makes sense. We wouldn’t want our everyday foods to strongly suppress or strongly activate any body system. What we would want from our foods is support of body systems under a variety of circumstances—and that is exactly what we get from shiitake mushrooms with respect to our immune system.

One especially interesting area of immune system support involves the impact of shiitake mushrooms on immune cells called macrophages. Among their many important activities, macrophage cells are responsible for identifying and clearing potentially cancerous cells from the body. In order to carry out this task, they need to be “activated” in a particular way. (In more scientific terms, their activated phenotype needs to reflect a higher level of interleukin 1-beta and tumor necrosis factor alpha, and a lower level of interleukin 10.) Shiitake mushrooms are able to help macrophage cells achieve this activated profile so that they can do a better job clearing potentially cancerous cells. Researchers refer to this result as an “anti-cancer immunity” that is enhanced by shiitake mushroom intake.

The most famous immune-supportive components in shiitake mushrooms are its polysaccharides. (Polysaccharides are large-sized carbohydrate molecules composed of many different sugars arranged in chains and branches.) Although many fungi are well-known for their polysaccharides, no single fungus has been more carefully studied than the shiitake mushroom. We know that this fungus is unique in its variety of polysaccharides, and especially its polysaccharide glucans. (Glucans are polysaccharides in which all of the sugar components involve the simple sugar glucose.) Among the glucans contained in shiitake mushroom are alpha-1,6 glucan, alpha-1,4 glucan, beta-1,3 glucan, beta-1,6 glucan, 1,4-D-glucans, 1,6-D-glucans, glucan phosphate, laminarin, and lentinan. Shiitake mushrooms also contain some important non-glucan polysaccharides, including fucoidans and galactomannins. The immune-related effects of polysaccharides in shiitake mushrooms have been studied on laboratory animals under a wide variety of circumstances, including exercise stress, exposure to inflammation-producing toxins, radiation exposure, and immunodeficiency. Under all of these circumstances, the polysaccharides in shiitake mushrooms have been shown to lessen problems. There is also some evidence that shiitake mushrooms’ polysaccharides can help lower total cholesterol levels.

Cardiovascular Benefits

The cardiovascular benefits of shiitake mushrooms have been documented in three basic areas of research. The first of these areas is cholesterol reduction. d-Eritadenine (also called lentinacin, or lentsine, and sometimes abbreviated as DEA) is one of the most unusual naturally occurring nutrients in shiitake mushrooms that has repeatedly been shown to help lower total blood cholesterol. This nutrient is actually derived from adenine—one of the building blocks (nucleotides) in the mushroom’s genetic material (DNA). The beta-glucans in shiitake mushrooms are also very likely to contribute to its cholesterol-lowering impact.

Another basic area of cardiovascular support involves the interaction between our cardiovascular system and our immune system. Recent studies have shown that shiitake mushrooms can help protect us against cardiovascular diseases (including atherosclerosis) by preventing too much immune cell binding to the lining of our blood vessels. In order for immune cells and other materials to bind onto our blood vessel linings, certain protein molecules—called adhesion molecules—must be produced and sent into action. By helping to block the adhesion molecule production process, substances in shiitake mushrooms can help protect our blood vessels. (The adhesion molecule production which is partially blocked by shiitake mushroom components includes the adhesion molecules ICAM-1, VCAM-1, and E-selectin.)

A final basic area of cardiovascular benefits involves antioxidant support. Chronic oxidative stress in our cardiovascular system (ongoing, oxygen-based damage to our blood vessel linings) is a critical factor in the development of clogged arteries (atherosclerosis) and other blood vessel problems. One of the best ways for us to reduce our risk of chronic oxidative stress is consumption of a diet rich in antioxidant nutrients. Shiitake mushrooms are a very good source of three key antioxidant minerals: manganese, selenium, and zinc. They also contain some unusual phytonutrient antioxidants. One of the best studied is ergothioneine (ET). This unique antioxidant is derived from the amino acid histidine, although it’s unusual since it contains a sulfur group of molecules that are not present in histidine itself. In studies on ET and our cells’ oxidative stress levels, one fascinating finding has been the special benefits of ET for cell components called mitochondria. Mitochondria use oxygen to produce energy for the cell. Heart cells have greater concentrations of mitochondria than most any other cell type in the body. For this reason, researchers believe that ET may be one of the key nutrients from shiitake mushrooms that provide us with cardiovascular support.

Anti-Cancer Benefits

Most of the research on shiitake mushrooms and cancer has been conducted on laboratory animals or on individual cells in a laboratory setting and has involved mushroom extracts rather than whole mushrooms in food form. For this reason, our understanding of the anti-cancer benefits of shiitake mushrooms as a whole, natural food is still preliminary. But based on research to date, we believe that adding shiitake mushrooms to your diet is likely to offer you anti-cancer benefits, especially with respect to prevention of prostate cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer.

Medicinal extracts from shiitake mushrooms have been studied much more extensively than the whole food itself. In cell and laboratory animal experiments, numerous components of shiitake mushrooms have been show to help block tumor growth, sometimes by triggering programmed cell death (apoptosis) in the cancer cells. These components have been collectively referred to as “anti-tumor mycochemicals” provided by shiitake mushrooms. Researchers have speculated that more than 100 different types of compounds in shiitake mushrooms may work together to accomplish these anti-tumor results. While the unique polysaccharides in shiitake mushrooms were first thought to be its primary anti-cancer compounds, scientists are now convinced that shiitake provides many non-polysaccharide substances that have anti-tumor effects.

Other Benefits

The special combination of antioxidants found in shiitake mushrooms together with their highly flexible support for immune system function make them a natural candidate for providing us with protection from a variety of problems involving oxidative stress and immune function. This includes rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an area that has begun to interest shiitake mushroom researchers. Although research in this area is preliminary, we expect to see large-scale human studies confirming the benefits of shiitake mushrooms for prevention of RA.

Medicinal extracts from shiitake mushrooms have well-documented effects on a variety of micro-organisms, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses (including human immunodeficiency virus-1, or HIV-1). While we have yet to see large-scale human studies on whole food intake of shiitake mushrooms and decreased susceptibility to colds, flu or other problems related to unwanted activity of micro-organisms, this is a very likely area for future food research and discovery of health benefits.

Description

Shiitake mushrooms have brown, slightly convex caps that range in diameter from about two to four inches in diameter. They belong to the basidiomycete family of fungi. Until the early 1990’s, they were widely known by their scientific genus-species name of Lentinus edodes. However, during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s this genus-species name for shiitake mushrooms was largely phased out and replaced by a new genus-species name, Lentinula edodes.

The common name for this mushroom, “shiitake,” comes from the Japanese language. “Shii” in Japanese refers to wood belonging to the Pasania species of tree on which shiitake mushrooms naturally grow. “Take” simply translates as “mushroom.” You may sometimes also hear shiitake mushroom being referred to as the “Black Forest mushroom,” and they do indeed grow naturally in that German mountain range.

Other mushrooms with Asian roots that are also becoming more popular are reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) and maitake (Grifola frondosa). Reishi mushrooms usually have an antler or rounded, fan shape; the most popular type of reishi is red in color, although that is just one of the six colors in which they grow. Maitake mushrooms grow in a formation of clustered brownish fronds of fan-shaped petals and are commonly known as “Hen of the Woods.” These types of mushrooms are available in food markets specializing in Asian foods.

History

Shiitake (as well as reishi and maitake) mushrooms have grown wild since prehistoric times. Their therapeutic value has been prized in Asian countries, where they originated, for thousands of years. They play a critical role in Asian medicinal traditions and were noted in some of the first books on herbal medicine written thousands of years ago. In the past few decades, these mushrooms have become more popular in the United States as a result of an expanding body of scientific research supporting their numerous health benefits. The U.S. is currently home to approximately 200 commercial growers of shiitake mushrooms, and nearly half of those growers use forest farming to produce shiitake mushrooms in a natural forest setting using downed hardwood trees as the cultivation medium.

Although Japan was at one time the world’s largest producer of shiitake mushrooms, that distinction now goes to China, which produces over 80% of all commercially sold shiitake mushrooms. Japan, Korea and Taiwan also produce shiitake mushrooms, as does the United States. One quickly growing market for shiitake mushrooms is Brazil, which currently produces more shiitake mushrooms than any other South American country.

How to Select and Store

Shiitake mushrooms are available in many grocery stores throughout the country. If your local store does not carry fresh reishi or maitake mushrooms, investigate the Asian food stores in your area as they oftentimes carry these specialty mushrooms.

Look for mushrooms that are firm, plump and clean. Those that are wrinkled or have wet slimy spots should be avoided.

The best way to store loose shiitake mushrooms (as well as maitake or reishi mushrooms) is to keep them in the refrigerator in a loosely closed paper bag. They will keep fresh for about one week. Dried mushrooms should be stored in a tightly sealed container in either the refrigerator or freezer where they will stay fresh for six months to one year.

Tips for Preparing Shiitake Mushrooms

Mushrooms are very porous, so if they are exposed to too much water they will quickly absorb it and become soggy. Therefore, the best way to clean mushrooms without sacrificing their texture and taste is to clean them using minimal, if any, water. To do this, simply wipe them with a slightly damp paper towel or kitchen cloth. You could also use a mushroom brush, available at most kitchenware stores.

If the fresh mushrooms become dried out because of being stored for too long, soak them in water for thirty minutes.

The Healthiest Way of Cooking Shiitake Mushrooms

We recommend Healthy Sautéeing shiitake mushrooms for maximum flavor and nutrition. Heat 3 TBS of broth over medium heat in a stainless steel skilled. When broth begins to steam add sliced mushrooms and Healthy Sauté for 7 minutes. It is best to stir constantly for the last 4 minutes of cooking.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas

  • Shiitake mushrooms are traditionally added to miso soup.
  • Healthy saute mushrooms with onions and garlic. Serve as a side dish or as a topping for chicken, beef, lamb or venison.
  • To give your vegetable stock an extra depth, add dried shiitake mushrooms.
  • For a quick and easy Asian pasta dish, healthy saute shiitake mushrooms with snap peas and tofu. Season to taste and serve over buckwheat soba noodles (or your favorite type of pasta).

WHFoods Recipes That Feature Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake Mushrooms and Purines

Shiitake mushrooms contain naturally-occurring substances called purines. Purines are commonly found in plants, animals, and humans. In some individuals who are susceptible to purine-related problems, excessive intake of these substances can cause health problems. Since purines can be broken down to form uric acid, excess accumulation of purines in the body can lead to excess accumulation of uric acid. The health condition called “gout” and the formation of kidney stones from uric acid are two examples of uric acid-related problems that can be related to excessive intake of purine-containing foods. For this reason, individuals with kidney problems or gout may want to limit or avoid intake of purine-containing foods such as shiitake mushrooms.

Nutritional Profile

Like most fungi, shiitake mushrooms offer a unique variety of phytonutrients, including their well-known beta-glucan polysaccharides (especially lentinan and laminarin). A cholesterol-lowering nutrient called eritadenine (or lentinacin) is found in shiitake, as well as the recently discovered amino acid-like nutrient, ergothioneine. Shiitake mushrooms also offer a wide variety of conventional nutrients. They are an excellent source of copper, pantothenic acid, and selenium. They are a very good source of vitamin B2 and zinc. Additionally they are a good source of manganese, vitamin B6, niacin, choline, dietary fiber, vitamin D, and folate.

Introduction to Food Rating System Chart

In order to better help you identify foods that feature a high concentration of nutrients for the calories they contain, we created a Food Rating System. This system allows us to highlight the foods that are especially rich in particular nutrients. The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good, or good source (below the chart you will find a table that explains these qualifications). If a nutrient is not listed in the chart, it does not necessarily mean that the food doesn’t contain it. It simply means that the nutrient is not provided in a sufficient amount or concentration to meet our rating criteria. (To view this food’s in-depth nutritional profile that includes values for dozens of nutrients – not just the ones rated as excellent, very good, or good – please use the link below the chart.) To read this chart accurately, you’ll need to glance up in the top left corner where you will find the name of the food and the serving size we used to calculate the food’s nutrient composition. This serving size will tell you how much of the food you need to eat to obtain the amount of nutrients found in the chart. Now, returning to the chart itself, you can look next to the nutrient name in order to find the nutrient amount it offers, the percent Daily Value (DV%) that this amount represents, the nutrient density that we calculated for this food and nutrient, and the rating we established in our rating system. For most of our nutrient ratings, we adopted the government standards for food labeling that are found in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “Reference Values for Nutrition Labeling.”

Mushrooms, Shiitake, cooked
0.50 cup
72.50 grams

Calories: 41
GI: 
not available

Nutrient Amount DRI/DV
(%)
Nutrient
Density
World’s Healthiest
Foods Rating
copper 0.65 mg 72 32.0 excellent
pantothenic acid 2.61 mg 52 23.1 excellent
selenium 17.98 mcg 33 14.5 excellent
vitamin B2 0.12 mg 9 4.1 very good
zinc 0.96 mg 9 3.9 very good
manganese 0.15 mg 8 3.3 good
vitamin B6 0.12 mg 7 3.1 good
vitamin B3 1.09 mg 7 3.0 good
choline 26.68 mg 6 2.8 good
fiber 1.52 g 6 2.7 good
vitamin D 20.30 IU 5 2.2 good
folate 15.22 mcg 4 1.7 good

References

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Gleaned from:  http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=122&tname=foodspice

 

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