Health Colombia , Colombia, Monday, June 22 of 2015, 10:24

Shiitake antipasto has anti-carcinogenic and nutritional properties

In replacing fish, chicken or meat protein for the ones in this Japanese fungus, UNal researchers discovered not only its nutritional qualities but that it also helps diminish cholesterol and glycaemia levels

UN/DICYT The shiitake fungus (Lentinula edodes) has a fruit body known as the cap and comparatively larger than the edible mushroom cap. It is brown and has great nutritional and medicinal potential and very sought for its texture and flavor. However its stem is not consumed and disposed due to its fibrous composition, which is often rejected by consumers. 


UNal Chemistry Department Professor Yvonne Jeannette Nieto Ramírez says that research performed on the stem determined that its nutraceutic properties (natural compounds or substances which have therapeutic action) turn it into an excellent candidate to be used in preparing functional food. 


For this reason the UNal Colombian Macromycetes Fungi Chemistry Group analyzed the shiitake fungus and determined that the components in its stem are the same as in the cap; furthermore they also determined they have omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. 


It also has immunostimulating polysaccharides (which improve the body’s defense systems), anti-carcinogenic activity and sterols which have antimicrobial activity and also help diminish cholesterol levels. 


Given the nutritional and medicinal importance of the fungus stem, the group produced a veggie antipasto exploiting the proteins of the fungus and which also has essential amino acids. 


Department of Chemistry Professor and group researcher Carolina Chegwin Angarita says that the first thing is to obtain the fungus fruit   which is achieved by solid state fermentation using agricultural industry waste substrates.


This procedure is known as traditional cropping, takes one month after which shiitake mushrooms are ready for harvesting. 


Later they detach the skin of the cap and place the cap in boiling water in order to soften the fibers, so it will be pleasant to eat. 


Processing of this product was part of a specialization project in Food Science and Technology carried out in collaboration with the Food Science and Technology Institute (ICTA, for its Spanish acronym). 


The antipasto was subjected to a 30-member student taste panel where it had excellent acceptance. 


The benefit of this foodstuff which is currently being marketed is using a byproduct which was previously discarded and considered a pollutant. It now represents additional income for mushroom growers.