Bulletproof is the industry leader in coffee, nutrition, supplements and technology. Our mission is to help people perform better, think faster, and live better using a proven blend of ancient knowledge and brand new technologies, tempered by research, science, and measured results from our customers, top athletes, and medical professionals. Our customers know that our supplements, foods, and technologies are the purest you can get anywhere, and you can expect to feel a difference in how you perform the first time you experience them.
Environmentally conscious and ethically sourced products build a sustainable foundation for future generations to thrive. Welcome to being Bulletproof, the state of high performance where your body, mind, and nervous system work together effortlessly to help you perform at levels beyond what you’d expect.
Dave Asprey, Founder and CEO spent 20 years to hack his own biology, ‘biohacking’ and upgraded his brain, he lost over 100 pounds and maximized his performance. The proprietary Bulletproof process optimizes every step of coffee production for performance by minimizing the opportunity for performance-robbing mold toxins that can contribute to chronic health issues.
Bulletproof Coffee Beans are meticulously grown at high altitude on single estates in Guatemala, are hand-harvested, carefully processed and roasted to maintain maximum integrity and flavor. The final roast undergoes proprietary lab testing to verify that the coffee meets the Bulletproof quality control and purity standards. Bulletproof coffee beans are grown, harvested & roasted to minimize the opportunity of mold toxins and undergo third-party lab-testing for 27 types of the most common mold toxins. Beans are medium roasted in small batches to enhance the naturally occurring antioxidant capacity and flavor, supporting energy, mental focus and performance.
Bulletproof’s Brain Octane is 100% Caprylic Acid, the most ketogenic MCT from the most precious part of the coconut. Brain Octane is the shortest of the MCTs and is 18-times more concentrated in Caprylic Acid than regular coconut oil. Supporting cognitive function, it is processed rapidly and easily digested, being quickly and easily absorbed by the brain & body and is not stored as fat. It converts the most ketogenic MCT into energy and is used by the brain faster than other fats or oils. It is metabolized differently than other types of fat and does not increase cholesterol, making it the top choice for reaching peak brain performance all day. It is odorless, flavorless and liquid at room temperature and can be substituted for other edible oils to support more intense mental activity.
MCT Oil isn’t just for coffee! You can make all kinds of tasty treats with it – check this recipe out:
This is a delicious keto chocolate shake with minimal ingredients that takes less than 2 minutes to make. It’s low-carb, contains quality fats and protein, and is full of energy. The cinnamon and vanilla both add depth to the flavor to this shake and the added coconut milk makes it smooth and creamy. I also love adding in a pinch of quality salt when I make any type of chocolate recipe because it enhances and balances out the chocolate flavor.
At Organic Grocer we’re so pleased to be blessed enough to be giving back often and generously! During Random Acts of Kindness Week we’re reminded why we do what we do – and we hope we can inspire you to give back kindness wherever and however you can too!
When you shop at Organic Grocer you’re doing more than supporting a 25 year old local business owned and operated by Surrey residents – you’re supporting LOCAL & INTERNATIONAL charities that make a real impact.
Every year the owners of Organic Grocer, located in the Newton neighbourhood of Surrey BC, donate generously to several local charities that directly impact their community’s most vulnerable residents. Without these charities the owners believe that Surrey would be a much poorer and meaner place to live. We hope that you’ll consider supporting them too during Random Acts of Kindness Week – and all throughout the year!
The owners also support international charities that are inspiring significant change around the world and moving industry forward ethically. Finally, Garth & Deb also encourage their staff to find forward thinking companies that are making a difference through their products and services so that we can feature them in our store! We hope that you find this article inspiring and that you will feel even better about shopping with Organic Grocer knowing that your hard earned dollars are doing good all around the world.
The Surrey Women’s Centre protects and empowers women and girls. It is a crisis centre for women and girls escaping domestic violence, sexual assault and other forms of gender-based violence. The Surrey Women’s Centre is the only women’s Centre in Surrey, BC. They are often the first and sometimes the only place women and girls in need call for help.
It is only because of generous daily donations that these women and girls have a safe place to turn.
The Centre is open 24 hours per day. 7 days per week. 365 days per year.
Hunger affects us all; it knows no age, it knows no race and it knows no season. At the Surrey Food Bank they have created specialised programs to ensure they are providing food assistance to everyone who needs a hand up in our community.
Hungry clients may visit the Surrey Food Bank and receive a nutritious supply of food every 14 days. The Food Bank’s goal is to provide sufficient food for 3 to 4 days, offering vegetarian and non-vegetarian options based on Canada’s Food Guide for Healthy Eating. However, the Food Bank is limited in what they can offer as they can only supply what has been donated.
In 1978, Peace Arch Community Services (PACS) was formed to serve the Surrey and White Rock community. Only a few thousand people sought its services and referral information; but as family and social challenges intensified, so did the need for PACS volunteers and professionals to help others overcome adversity and build a better life. In 2008 the organization provided direct service to approximately 12,300 individuals. SOURCES was born in 2010 as other agencies consolidated their services with PACS; these included Gateway Autism Society and Gateway Autism Foundation (2010), Newton Advocacy Group Society (2011), South Fraser Women’s Services Society (2012) and Cornerstone Care Society (2015).
SOURCES now strives to create more vibrant and resilient communities by offering support to children, youth, families, persons with disabilities, seniors, and others who are coping with isolation, addiction, poverty, disability and conflict. We also support our communities through leadership, education and volunteerism.
Covenant House provides love and hope to Vancouver’s street youth. Covenant House helps youth aged 16 to 24 who have fled physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse; those who have been forced from their homes; and those who have aged out of foster care. Covenant House is a premier provider of shelter as well as other services for homeless youth thanks to the hard work and dedication of their staff and volunteers and generous donor’s support.
We at the Organic Grocer believe that once a person’s basic needs for food, shelter, and safety are taken care of a beautiful and healthy environment will enrich their lives.
A healthy and vibrant environment doesn’t just create a better place for our animal friends to live, but also creates a healthy and supportive environment for us humans to thrive in as well. Keeping that in mind, we support several environmental and agrarian charities across the country every year:
The Burns Bog Conservation Society networks with leading scientists to give and distribute accurate and up-to-date information on peatlands. In 1995 Dr David Bellemy discovered that Burns Bog was regenerating after the peat harvesting. He told the Society “you have proved by accident in Burns Bog the theory that the bog will regenerate within 40 years!”
When you give to the Burns Bog Conservation Society, you become part of a powerful movement to save one of our country’s most fragile and precious ecosystems – Burns Bog. Thank you for protecting “the lungs of the Lower Mainland.”
Young Agrarians (YA) is a network for new and young ecological and organic farmers. Since they started January 2012, the network has grown across Canada from coast to coast because of farmers who have organized events (mixers, farm tours & potlucks, apprentice meet-ups, etc.) The network is made up of a diverse array of food growers and lovers: rural and urban farmers, market gardeners, seed savers, food activists, bee keepers, community gardeners, food/farmer organizations and more. All of who are working to steward land and soil, and grow our local food systems.
Young Agrarians recognises Indigenous title to all lands in Canada. They feel it is their responsibility to care for and respect the land that we all live on and depend upon for water, food and shelter. In a time of climate change, we must all do our part to nurture resilient food systems (local, ecological and equitably produced) choosing with our dollars, values and hands to consume and produce foods that are healthy for us and future generations.
COG’s mission is to lead local and national communities towards sustainable organic stewardship of land, food and fibre while respecting nature, upholding social justice and protecting natural resources.
Not all COG members run certified organic operations, but they share a vision for a sustainable bioregionally-based organic food system. COG members believe that organic food production is the best choice for the health of consumers and producers, for the protection and enhancement of the environment, and for the sustainability of the food production system. In fact we believe that the survival of our country and even of the planet depends on it!
FarmFolk CityFolk is a not for profit society that works to cultivate a local, sustainable food system. Their projects provide access to & protection of foodlands; support local growers and producers; and engage communities in the celebration of local food.
“Something happens to people who plant seeds–it is impossible to watch a plant grow and flourish without getting a sense of the miracle of all life.”
COABC’s approach to food production is based on care for the earth. They recognize that as human beings, we are one creature among many which are all inter-related and interdependent. The COABC is part of an organic movement that embraces a wide diversity of activities and enterprises related to the organic production of food and encompass all sizes of operations.
One of the tools the COABC uses is a regulatory framework to permit exports. Their priority is the establishment and maintenance of local food systems. They accept the principles of organic farming and processing identified by the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM) and engage in research of appropriate techniques to enable us to put them all into practice.
We know that donating directly to charities is meaningful and changes lives daily – but sometimes it’s best to support initiatives that are run by companies and organisations which we trust and which we know will direct funds into the most needy hands and environments.
Because we want our dollars to make a meaningful impact we look for products that we can carry brought to us by companies and organisations doing really meaningful work! Two such companies come to mind (below), but don’t forget that any of the fair trade products we carry make a difference in the lives of people around the world! That’s why we strive to carry a fair trade option wherever possible.
Buy an Alafffia product and contribute to their Empowerment initiatives in Africa with every purchase. Empowerment Projects are Alaffia’s mission in action, funded by the sales of Alafﬁa products. Alaffia invests in their communities because they believe it is their moral responsibility to ensure African resources empower African communities. Their goal is to alleviate poverty and encourage gender equality. Alaffia’s Empowerment Projects include several Education-Based Projects, Maternal Health, FGM Eradication, Eyeglasses and Reforestation. All of Alafﬁa’s projects empower Togolesecommunities to provide their skills and knowledge to the rest of the world and to rise out of poverty.
As of 2017 Alfaffia’s Empowerment Initiatives have:
•• DISTRIBUTED 7,482 BIKES •• •• GIVEN 32,842 CHILDREN SCHOOL SUPPLIES •• •• BUILT 2,261 SCHOOL BENCHES •• •• CONSTRUCTED 10 SCHOOLS •• •• FUNDED 4,463 BIRTHS •• •• PLANTED 57,575 TREES •• •• DONATED 24,927 EYEGLASSES ••
Every purchase of Natural Calm Products supports the Organics 4 Orphans Charity which supports organic gardening, nutritional training, natural medicine and income generation in communities across Africa.
Every purchase of a Whole Earth & Sea Supplement sends $2 directly to the Plant a Seed and See What Grows Foundation – a local charity that creates a lot of buzz around food and the interconnectedness that unites us all. We are all interconnected with one another, with our food, with our environment and with our communities. And we are what we eat. And we are stewards of our land. And we are what we contribute to our communities. At Plant a Seed Foundation, they nurture a sense of interconnectivity with one another, with our food, our land and our communities. They are committed to helping others to:
We hope that knowing the hard earned dollars you spend at Organic Grocer are making a significant difference every day in both local lives and lives across the globe brings warmth to your heart and a smile to your face.
Now get out there and make a difference in someone’s life!
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.
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!
At the core of Rabbit River Farms are their values – that’s why we love carrying them! Their values guide their decisions and enable them to stay true to themselves and consistently produce the highest quality food in accordance with the highest ethical standards in the organic egg farming industry.
They are committed to:
♥ livestock’s health and well being;
♥ family and employee’s health and well being;
♥ The health of their community, their customers, farming partners and other stakeholders;
♥ Environmental Stewardship
♥ Sustainable, organic farming practices;
♥ Quality of life for livestock;
♥ Advancing humane farming practices for all types of livestock;
♥ Advancing the long-term growth of sustainable organic farming practices
Rabbit River Farms is committed to Socially Responsible Farming and so are we – that’s why we carry their eggs! Learn more about what makes socially responsible farming important below:
Socially Responsible Farming
At Rabbit River Farms we strive to improve the standard of living of both people and livestock through socially responsible and sustainable organic farming. At heart, we understand that healthy hens lay healthy eggs and that healthy food leads to healthier people.
We create and implement our policies and programs by giving emphasis to the following five cornerstones of socially responsible and sustainable organic farming:
contributing to human health
conserving the environment
sustainable farming practices
improving the quality of life of our livestock
Advocacy of Organic Family Farms
Our organic eggs serve as one of nature’s most nutritious, wholesome and natural food source. One large egg contains only 70 calories and an incredible amount of nutrition. Eggs are one of the few foods considered to be a complete protein because they provide all nine essential amino acids which the body does not produce.
Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating recommends 2 to 3 servings of meat and alternatives per day. [Canadian Food Guide] Helping to fulfill this recommendation, two organic eggs are considered one serving.
Using sustainable organic farming practices to grow the feed for our hens helps the environment by reducing soil pollution and enhancing soil quality. We help maintain a balance in the food chain by using natural, biological pest controls rather than harmful chemical pesticides.
Conserving the Environment
Prior to expanding our Richmond farm, Rabbit River Farms employed a professional biologist to study the farm land and surrounding habitat. We discovered that the perimeter trees on our farm were used for nesting of small raptors and other bird species. We also learned that the canals and ditches surrounding our land are habitat for the Pacific Water Shrew – a cute creature that is able to “walk on water” in pursuit of its insect diet. The Pacific Water Shrew is on the BC ₀Species at Risk”. By careful planning and property setbacks we have been able to protect the habitat for both the birds and the shrews. We have learned that the canals surrounding our farm also play home to beavers, otters, muskrats, minks and many other species of waterfowl and fish.
As would be expected, Rabbit River Farms’ practices include Reducing, Reusing and Recycling as much as possible. Our barn and grading station equipment is designed in a way that reduces energy consumption and waste water, while increasing the quality of our products. This in turn make us more economically and environmentally sustainable. The cartons used to pack eggs are made of 100% recycled material. We also recycle any waste plastic and cardboard created by the operations of the farm.
Sustainable Farming Practices
Our organic egg farm is certified by Pro-Cert Organic Systems, the BCSPCA and the CFIA. There are no antibiotic or synthetic chemicals used in either our chicken feed or flock management and the organic chicken feed we use is GMO-free, all vegetarian, enriched with soy, wheat, buckwheat, corn and other organic legumes and natural minerals. Acting locally, the organic feed we used is milled in a local organic feed mill and wherever available, B.C. grown grains are used.
At Rabbit River Farms we nurture our organic hens by allowing them to range freely on organic pasture and exposing them to fresh air, natural daylight, clean water and organic feed. Our natural farming processes produce certified organic eggs and organic manure. The eggs are used in local bakeries and restaurants and sold in hundreds of stores in BC and Alberta. The organic manure produced at Rabbit River Farms is further used in a sustainable manner to help grow organic and Asian vegetables on local Ladner and Surrey farms.
Quality of Life for Livestock Our hens are completely cage-free both inside and outside the barn which allows for a normal social order in the roost. In contrast to hens that are raised in caged battery systems inside black out barns with no access to natural daylight, Rabbit River Farms’ hens live in an environment which reduces mental and physical stress. Our hens spend on average one third of their life outside the barn on organic pasture.
In order to continually maintain a high level of observation and awareness of the true natural animal behaviour norms for hens, we also have one flock which produces fertile eggs. Therefore, removed from our hens which supply commercially sold organic eggs, we enable some of our livestock to reproduce in a more traditional and “non-commercial” way. With this valuable behavioural awareness we are better able to enhance the environment and barn systems for our commercial flocks.
Advocacy of Organic Family Farms
Rabbit River Farms’ Founder, Stephen Easterbrook has lobbied extensively to the BC Farm Industry Review Board and Ministry of Agriculture to establish “New Entrant” programs to enable local families to farm organic and cage free eggs. Prior to this there were restrictive regulations and unreasonable financial barriers that virtually prohibited new farmers from egg production. Our Founder also conducts frequent public tours to help educate the public on the principles of organic farming and humane farm animal welfare as well as to provide transparency and education about sustainable farming practices.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.”
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