Kidney Diet Tips

Food Facts Friday: Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a misunderstood staple of American and international cuisine. While mushrooms are often classified by many as vegetables, and known as the “meat” of the vegetable world, they are actually a part of the fungus kingdom with over 12,000 species of edible fungi. Mushrooms are often given humorous nicknames like “shrooms,” “mushies,” “golden tops” and “liberty caps” because of their unique appearance and ability to produce euphoric and psychedelic experiences (depending on the species of mushroom consumed).

Just like humans and animals, fungi breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. And when they are exposed to sunlight, mushrooms will produce vitamin D. However, they do not require sunlight to make energy for themselves and have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years for their antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Nutrients in Mushrooms

Mushrooms are made up of more than 90% water, are cholesterol-free and low in carbohydrates, fat and sodium. They also contain substantial amounts of Vitamin B, copper and potassium. The potassium content varies with mushroom variety and if it is measured raw or cooked. For example, 1/2 cup uncooked, sliced white mushrooms weighs 48 grams and contains 153 mg potassium. If cooked, then measured, 1/2 cup white mushrooms weighs 78 grams and contains 276 mg potassium.

Mushroom variety 1/2 cup raw Potassium 1/2 cup cooked* Potassium
White or button 48 grams 153 mg 54 grams 214 mg
Cremini or Italian brown 36 grams 161 mg n/a n/a
Portobello 43 grams 157 mg 61 grams 264 mg
Porcini 43 grams 195 mg n/a n/a
Shitake 45 grams 137 mg 73 grams 174 mg

*Measured after cooked

When choosing mushrooms, look for ones that are dry, firm and unbruised while avoiding mushrooms that have turned slimy. They should be stored in the refrigerator unwashed and untrimmed until ready to cook and can be eaten raw or cooked whole, sliced or chopped.

Mushroom Varieties

There are over 38,000 mushroom varieties varying from edible to highly toxic. Here are a few common mushrooms you will see in today’s supermarkets.

White or button mushrooms, also known as Agaricus, are the most common variety found in the United States. They have a mild flavor which is noticeably enhanced when season and cooked.

Cremini or Italian brown mushrooms are similar to the button variety; however, they are darker in color, richer in flavor and have a denser texture.

Portobello are large cremini-like mushrooms, generally larger in size with a chewier texture. Portobello are excellent choices for grilling or roasting and are popular choices as a meatless/vegetarian burger.

Porcini mushrooms are prized in Italian and French cuisine and are known for their meaty texture and nutty flavor. While they are considered to be one of the finest tasting mushrooms, they are not easy to grow. This drives their price up, with porcini mushrooms costing more than three times the price of common white button mushrooms.

Shiitake mushrooms are large, black-brown, and have an earthy rich flavor and commonly used in stir-fries and soups.

Whether sautéed, grilled, stir fried or used as a meat replacement, mushrooms are unique, versatile and delicious. Experiment and enjoy a variety of mushrooms for flavor, texture and nutrition!

Mushroom Recipes

Try one of these kidney-friendly mushroom recipes:



Additional Kidney Diet Resources

Visit and explore these diet and nutrition resources:

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Consult your physician and dietitian regarding your specific diagnosis, treatment, diet and health questions.

Lynn Taylor MS, RD, LD

Lynn Taylor MS, RD, LD

Lynn is an avid kayaker. In her free time she loves trying new recipes, biking, gardening and traveling.