Amino acids play a vital role in multiple body functions. Therefore, foods rich in amino acids are essential for your health. Amino acids serve various benefits. For example, it helps with protein and energy synthesis, metabolism, control muscle growth, repair and improves brain health and weight management. They control almost every function in your body. Your body synthesises some amino acids. However, you can obtain others through amino acid-rich food.
Your body requires amino acids to make structural proteins and enzymes that conduct biochemical reactions. The body also uses amino acids to produce hormones, neurotransmitters and other essential biochemicals. Although your body uses many amino acids, you only require nine essential amino acids in your diet. Since your body cannot manufacture these, you must get them from food. In addition, people with cardiovascular or metabolic conditions, athletes etc., also require essential amino acids in their diet.
Proteins and amino acids together form the building blocks of life. Proteins break down to form amino acids. These amino acids are present in every cell like muscles and bones, nerve cells, skin etc.
Some essential amino acids that your body does not produce are:
LeucineIsoleucine HistidineLysine methionine Phenylalanine ThreonineTryptophan Valine
You can get these amino acids from several high protein foods. Fruits, green leafy vegetables, seafood and legumes are a few examples.
This article contains the top 15 foods rich in amino acids.
Foods Rich in Amino Acids
The body does not synthesise a few amino acids. Hence, we need to include amino acid-rich food in our diet to get them. There is a wide range of foods rich in amino acids. For example, animal and plant-based protein sources have all the essential amino acids you need. Hence, a high protein diet helps give you all essential amino acids. Scientifically, it is because protein breaks down to form amino acids.
Here is a list of a few foods rich in amino acids. They include:
1. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is a protein-rich food that contains a significant amount of several amino acids, including threonine and tryptophan. One hundred grams of cottage cheese provides about 25% of your RDI of protein. In addition, cottage cheese is an excellent source of calcium, a mineral that helps improve bone health. However, the sodium in cottage cheese might work against the benefits. As with anything, moderation is key.
It is one of the richest sources of all essential amino acids. Quinoa contains isoleucine, leucine, lysine, phenylalanine, tyrosine, cysteine, methionine, threonine, histidine, tryptophan and valine. The precise amounts of these amino acids vary based on the cultivation conditions. However, a serving of quinoa will always contain significant amounts of each. In addition to protein, quinoa contains starchy carbohydrates, dietary fibre, phosphorus, magnesium and iron. It is also gluten-free. It helps reduce anxiety and speeds up wound healing.
There are 20 amino acids, and each has a different role in the human body. Eggs have a complete amino acid profile, making them ideal for those who want to build lean muscle and strength, lose fat or recover faster from training. Eggs are high in lysine, histidine, leucine, valine, tryptophan etc. In addition, eggs are also a high source of proteins and other vital nutrients. So, they are healthy food to include in your breakfast.
4. Poultry Products
Chicken is a rich source of niacin and selenium. Niacin is vitamin B and amino acid. It helps convert food into energy and keeps your digestive system, nervous system, and skin healthy. In addition, it helps boost brain functions, lower cholesterol and strengthen the bone.
Poultry products have a high content of tryptophan, an amino acid. It is essential for the absorption of vitamin B. In addition, it is vital for multiple body activities like digestion, skin health brain function.
Tryptophan also helps secrete serotonin, an anti-depressant. Additionally, it helps regulate your mood swings. It affects your mood and contributes to feelings of happiness and relaxation. Most meat has a similar amino acid profile.
Research suggests that Mushroom is a source of nine essential amino acids, which humans cannot synthesise.
These amino acids are: Histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. You can find these amino acids in the oyster mushroom species Pleurotus ostreatus and P. Sajor-Caju.
Most fishes have essential amino acids. An analysis showed that the cold water species are rich in lysine and aspartic acid, marine fishes in leucine, small indigenous fishes in histidine, and the carps and catfishes in glutamic acid and glycine.
You can consume salmon, tuna, sardine, rohu, Katla, Surmai for their high amino acid content. Also, sardine is a good source of amino acids and Omega-3 fatty acids and is essential for heart health.
7. Beans, Legumes and Whole Grain
Legumes are a great source of proteins and amino acids like lysine. In addition, methionine is another amino acid in beans that help regulate sulphur. It is essential for bone and cartilage growth. Cooked kidney beans, peas, lentils, soya beans are a few sources of high amino acids.
It is a rich source of essential amino acids and protein. For example, isoleucine in soybeans helps haemoglobin synthesis. It also helps growth and weight gain as it stimulates growth hormones. In addition, soybean may help children in their overall development and health.
Fruits have a high content of leucine, which helps regulate insulin levels. In addition, it controls the blood glucose levels in your body. Fruits like bananas, apples, berries etc., are rich sources of amino acids. Apple is one of the most amino acid-rich fruits, containing around 16 amino acids. The concentration of amino acids in peel and pulp may be different. For example, the pulp contains higher amino acids than peels.
Nuts are high in lysine, an amino acid that helps regulate calcium in the body. Calcium is vital for bone health. In addition, it is a critical factor for multiple body activities like muscle contraction, nerve transmission, blood clotting prevention etc. Almonds, cashews, and peanuts are rich sources of lysine.
Most vegetables contain amino acids like methionine, valine, threonine, histidine and tryptophan. Vegetables like celery, cauliflower, and mushrooms are the richest source of these amino acids. In addition, vegetables contain phenylalanine, which helps thyroid hormone synthesis. As a result, it helps regulate multiple metabolic activities in your body like heartbeat regulation, blood glucose management, weight loss, weight gain, bone health etc. Furthermore, histidine in vegetables helps detoxify the body. Accumulation of toxins may result in disorders like fatigue, depression etc.
Turkey is rich in tryptophan, an amino acid essential for producing niacin, a B vitamin. It is vital for digestion, healthy skin, and nerves. In addition, it plays a prominent role in the formation of serotonin which affects your mood to a greater extent.
Milk has a reasonably good protein quality. It has nine essential amino acids in adequate quantities. Furthermore, it is low in calories and carbs. Therefore, you can easily include it into any diet and create several exciting recipes with it.
Yoghurt has a similar nutrient profile as milk. It is a fantastic source of amino acids and makes you feel fuller for a considerable duration. It serves 30% of the protein requirements of men and 37% of women.
15. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are plant-based protein sources and are full of omega-3 fatty acids. They are a powerhouse of proteins with all the nine essential amino acids that the body cannot produce. They help prevent numerous chronic diseases when added to a balanced diet.
Benefits of Amino Acid Rich Foods
Amino acids form the building components of protein. It is a vital component of every cell in your body. However, your body may not synthesise all of them. Hence you should obtain it from your food. Let us know the necessity of amino acids food in your health.
Promotes Brain Function
As per research, to function adequately, the central nervous system (CNS) requires several amino acids found in protein foods. The brain uses amino acids such as tryptophan, tyrosine, histidine, and arginine to synthesise various neurotransmitters and neuromodulators. For example, tryptophan and tyrosine enhance the synthesis of neurotransmitters- dopamine and norepinephrine. Neurotransmitters are hormones that help transmit nerve responses to cells across the body. For example, dopamine and norepinephrine regulate multiple body activities like cardiac health, diabetes etc. Glutamate and aspartate are excellent neurotransmitters.
Tryptophan helps prevent sleep disorders and also stimulates serotonin synthesis. Serotonin is an anti-depressant hormone that helps control your mood swings and relax. Thus, it keeps you away from depression.
Amino Acids Imparts Energy
During exercise, your muscles use leucine, isoleucine, and valine to get extra energy. Therefore, athletes and sports persons use leucine, isoleucine and valine supplements to enhance their performance.
Prevent Muscle Wastage and Promotes Muscle Growth
Muscle wastage or muscle breakdown results when protein consumption exceeds its synthesis. According to a study, it is a sign of malnutrition, infections, fasting and ageing. Weight loss causes muscle wastage. Leucine is an amino acid that stimulates muscle protein synthesis. It also inhibits muscle breakdown. In addition, it also helps revive muscle loss and soreness. Valine amino acid also supports muscle growth repair.
Amino acids are vital for the growth and function of your body. Amino acids like arginine, lysine and ornithine stimulate the synthesis of growth hormone (GH). Methionine helps absorb selenium and zinc. They are essential minerals that maintain and promote overall health.
Amino Acids Helps in Weight Loss
Amino acid combines with proteins to speed up fat metabolism. As a result, it may cause a more significant reduction in body weight loss. Cysteine is an amino acid that helps burn fat. It also has antioxidant properties and suppresses the oxidative stress that triggers obesity.
Phenylalanine regulates your appetite. Glycine, L-tyrosine and amino acid also suppresses your appetite and help you lose weight.
Regulates Blood Pressure
Amino acids like arginine help regulate blood flow in the arteries and blood vessels. In addition, it controls blood pressure by enhancing the angiotensin-converting enzyme. Thus, it helps relax blood vessels to facilitate blood circulation. It, in turn, lowers blood pressure.
Helps Boost Memory
Amino acids like tyrosine or phenylalanine help synthesise dopamine. Norepinephrine boosts your memory and concentration. Norepinephrine is vital for alertness as well as relaxation. Serotonin is an inhibitory neurotransmitter essential for a good mood. It also aids learning and standard sleep patterns.
Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Some amino acids help regulate blood sugar levels. For example, leucine and isoleucine stimulate insulin secretion. In addition, it allows your muscles to absorb more blood glucose, reducing your blood glucose levels.
Amino Acids Regulate the Immune System
Amino acids help strengthen your immunity by controlling T and B lymphocytes and macrophages, the primary defence cells. These cells protect you from any infections. Additionally, amino acids help synthesise antibodies to combat disease-causing agents. They also control Cytokines, hormones that regulate the growth and activity of immune cells. Amino acids also prevent inflammation.
Deficiency of Amino Acid
Amino acid deficiency refers to low levels of amino acids in your body. Unfortunately, it impacts all the functions and activities regulated by amino acids. For example, it affects the growth and repair of cells, immunity etc. The leading cause for amino acid deficiency is insufficient protein, as protein is essential to make amino acids. In addition, some other causes may include indigestion of protein ageing. Symptoms of amino acids include fatigue, low blood glucose levels, low blood pressure, delayed healing etc.
Amino Acids: Possible Side Effects and Precautions
An excess of amino acids in the blood causes toxicities due to amino acid metabolism disorders. It interrupts the breakdown of specific amino acids. Moreover, it also prevents the amino acids from reaching the cells. In addition, it leads to the accumulation of toxic substances in your body. An excess amount of amino acid in the body results in abdominal pain, diarrhoea, diabetes and kidney disorders. Therefore, it is essential to maintain proper amino acid balance in your body.
Amino acid supplements may interact with other drugs like medication for diabetes, hypertension and thyroid disorder. Amino acids help lower blood glucose and blood pressure. So. if you are already on medication, amino acid supplements can further reduce the levels, which is harmful. Therefore, it is essential to maintain an optimum level.
Lysine prevents blood clotting. Therefore it can interfere with anticoagulant drugs to increase the risk of bleeding. Thus, checking with your doctor before having amino acid supplements is safe.
The Bottom Line
Amino acids are essential biomolecules that serve as building blocks of proteins and intermediates in various metabolic pathways. In addition, they serve as precursors for the synthesis of a wide range of biologically important substances, including nucleotides, peptide hormones, and neurotransmitters. Amino acids are the building blocks of life. However, your body does not produce all of them. Therefore, you must eat amino acid-rich foods. But, like everything else, moderation is key. An excess of amino acids can cause some side effects. Thus, eat these foods safely and don’t overconsume. That will pave the gateway to a healthified life.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What are the benefits of Amino acids?
A. Amino acids provide several benefits. For example, it helps improve digestion, strengthens immunity, and promotes bone health. It also boosts memory, controls brain functions etc. In addition, amino acids are also beneficial in losing weight.
2. Is it safe to take amino acids every day?
A. Amino acids may be safe to consume regularly. Natural sources of amino acids can provide the optimum amount with a balanced diet. However, ensure you take them in prescribed doses only when taking supplements.
3. Do amino acids make you gain weight?
A. No. Amino acids do not make you gain weight. Instead, amino acids help increase metabolism and optimum functioning of the body. Amino acid combines with proteins to speed up fat metabolism. As a result, it may cause a more significant reduction in body weight loss. Cysteine is an amino acid that helps burn fat.
4. When should I take amino acids?
A. You may include amino acids in your regular diet to help maintain your health. However, you should take amino acid supplements in recommended doses. Usually, athletes and sports persons take amino acids to get more energy during exercise and prevent muscle wastage.
5. Do Amino acids burn fat?
A. Yes, some amino acids help burn fat. For example, cysteine is an amino acid that helps burn fat. It also has antioxidant properties and suppresses the oxidative stress that triggers obesity.
6. What are the side effects of amino acids?
A. The possible adverse effects of amino acids are toxicities due to amino acid metabolism disorders. In addition, some amino acids may react with ongoing medicines, leading to severe issues. The symptoms include stomach ache, diarrhoea, and low blood pressure. However, the primary cause is the abnormal intake of amino acids in food or supplements.
7. Do Amino Acids Affect Kidneys?
A. Yes. However, amino acids positively affect the kidneys. Studies suggest that amino acids regulate haemodynamics and proteolysis. Abnormal plasma and muscle amino acid results in chronic renal failure. However, you can partially correct it using supplementation.
8. What foods contain amino acids?
A. High proteins foods are rich sources of amino acids because proteins break down to form amino acids. Therefore, any high protein food contains amino foods. Quinoa is the best available amino food. Eggs, turkey, cottage cheese, mushrooms are other foods high in amino food.
9. Do amino acids make you grow?
A. Yes. Many amino acids stimulate growth hormones, which aid overall growth. Therefore, an amino acid-rich diet is vital for children. Amino acids like arginine, lysine and ornithine stimulate the synthesis of growth hormone (GH). Methionine helps absorb selenium and zinc. They are essential minerals that maintain and promote overall health.
10. What is amino acid deficiency?
A. Amino acid deficiency marks low levels of particular amino acids. The primary reason is insufficient protein. Unfortunately, it impacts all the functions and activities regulated by amino acids. For example, it affects the growth and repair of cells, immunity etc.
11. Should I take amino acids in the morning?
A. Yes, you can take it in the morning. It is similar to protein. However, check with your doctor if you’re taking amino acid supplements.
12. Are there amino acids in the fruits?
A. Fruits have a high content of leucine, an amino acid that helps regulate insulin levels. Fruits like bananas, apples, berries etc., are rich sources of amino acids. Apple is one of the most amino acid-rich fruit, containing around 16 amino acids.
13. Do vegetables have amino acids?
A. Most vegetables contain amino acids like methionine, valine, threonine, histidine and tryptophan. Vegetables like celery, cauliflower, and mushrooms are the richest source of these amino acids.
14. What causes amino acid deficiency?
A. Our body cannot produce some essential amino acids, which we must get from food. The primary causes for an amino acid deficiency are poor diet, indigestion in protein, genetic diseases etc. However, the most common cause is insufficient protein intake.
15. What nuts are high in amino acids?
A. Cashew nuts, almonds, peanuts are nuts high in amino acids. For example, these nuts contain lysine, an amino acid that helps regulate calcium in the body, vital for bone health.
16. Do bananas contain amino acids?
A. Yes. Like most fruits, bananas contain amino acids. They are rich sources of amino acids like tryptophan, lysine, arginine, leucine, etc., beneficial for the body.
17. Are apples high in amino acids?
A. Yes, Apple is high in 16 amino acids found with different concentrations according to the locality in which they exist in the red and green apple cultivars. However, the quantity varies in pulp and peel; the pulp contains more amino acids than the peel.
18. Do carrots contain amino acids?
A. No, carrots don’t have amino acids. However, carrots have a rich nutrient profile and are beneficial for your body in several ways. For example, they are rich in dietary fibre, vitamin C and antioxidants, beneficial for the body.
19. What are the signs of amino acid deficiency?
A. Some of the common signs of amino acid deficiency are muscle loss, fatigue, weakness, reduced healing, memory loss etc. However, supplements can partially relieve these symptoms.