When we talk about foods rich in amino acids it simply means the protein-rich foods we can eat and then our bodies will synthesize the essential amino nutrients needed from them. Knowing the essential and non-essential acids and their food sources is very important in building your overall health.
Amino acids being the building blocks of protein helps in building the framework of our bodies and more to that, it builds the internal body system. The foods rich in amino acids are not far fetched, they are everywhere in our localities.
Remember, that essential amino acids are the indispensable nutrients that we must get through the foods we eat since our body cannot produce them. You can get foods rich in amino acids from complete and incomplete proteins. There are 9 essential amino acids that you suppose to get from your protein diets and they are:
When it comes to obtaining these essential amino acids from local food sources, it’s important to consume a balanced and varieties of diets. The foods that contain all the nine essential amino acids are called complete proteins and they are mainly animal-based foods and few plant-based foods. Complete proteins are foods rich in amino acids and they provide all of the essential amino acids that our bodies cannot produce on their own.
So in this article I will give lists of animal and plant based sources of essential amino acids which will enable you to plan your protein diets and know their impacts on your health.
Animal proteins contains higher protein quality than other protein sources. As a complete protein, they contain all nine essential amino acids in varying amounts per serving. They includes:
- Meat and Poultry: Chicken, beef, pork, lamb, duck and turkey are excellent sources of essential amino acids. They are foods rich in amino acids that provide complete protein. They contain all the essential amino acids in varying amounts, measured in kilocalories per serving.
- Fish and Seafood: Fishes such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna and trout are rich in essential amino acids. They are also a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids which helps in lowering LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream and enhances heart health. Therefore, including a variety of fish in your diet obtains a wide range of amino acids and other good health effects.
- Eggs: Eggs are complete protein source and contain all the essential amino acids. It should be incorporated in your daily diets.
- Dairy Products: Milk, cheese, yoghurt and other dairy products are also known as the “Casein protein” which provides the body with all the essential amino acids necessary in building muscles. They can be consumed as a snack or added to recipes.
There are few plant sources of foods rich in amino acids. They are complete protein with all the essential amino acids they includes:
- Quinoa: Unlike some plant proteins, quinoa is a complete protein source that contains all nine essential amino acids. It’s also a gluten-free seed that can make great substitute for rice and other grains. There is 8g of protein per serving of quinoa (100g).
- Soy Products: Foods made from soya beans such as soy milk or soya milk, tofu and tempeh are excellent sources of essential amino acids for vegetarians and vegans. Soy milk, particularly can be used as a substitute for dairy milk by vegans and those who are lactose intolerant.
- Nuts and seeds: Chia seeds, hemp seeds and pistachios are examples of nuts and seeds with complete proteins. They are also rich in healthy fats and other beneficial nutrients.
- Buckwheat: Buckwheat is one of the plant-based foods rich in amino acids. It contains all nine essential amino acids which makes it a high quality, complete protein source.
However, foods that contain some but not all the essential amino acids are called incomplete proteins. Know that two incomplete proteins can be paired to form a complete protein. They are basically plant based proteins which includes:
- Legumes: Beans, lentils, chickpeas, pinto beans and other legumes are good plant based sources of essential amino acids. They contain a great amount of proteins and can be paired with other food sources to make up a complete protein that provides all essential amino acids in sufficient quantities. A typical example is pairing beans and rice. They both contain and lack certain essential amino acids, which when eaten together will complement what the other is missing to form a complete protein.
- Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, peanuts and flaxseeds contain a number of essential amino acids while they are lacking in some. Peanuts have the highest protein content out of all the commonly consumed nuts. They provide a lot of plant based protein they are primarily lacking in methionine and lysine.
FOOD SOURCES OF ALL AMINO ACIDS
Knowing all the 20 amino acids is not enough, you also need to know the foods you will eat to get these nutrients. Each of the essential and non essential amino acids has sources of foods rich in amino acids. The percentage per serving of these food sources vary greatly from one another.
Although, eleven non-essential amino acids are majorly produced by our bodies, they are synthesized from the foods we eat in some conditions where the body cannot produce them in sufficient quantities. The food sources of these amino acids includes:
Essential amino acids
- Histidine: Meat, poultry products, fish, milk and dairy products, grains, beans, chia seeds, quinoa, hemp seeds, buckwheat.
- Isoleucine: Meat, poultry products, fish, dairy products, soy products, lentils, almonds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, buckwheat, quinoa.
- Leucine: Meat, poultry products, fish, dairy products, hemp seeds, soy products, chia seeds, legumes, nuts, quinoa.
- Lysine: Meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, legumes, quinoa, hemp seeds, chia seeds, soy products.
- Methionine: Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, nuts, seeds, soy milk, quinoa, buckwheat.
- Phenylalanine: Meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, beans, quinoa, nuts, soya beans, chia seeds, hemp seeds, buckwheat.
- Threonine: Meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, tofu, soya beans, hemp seeds, lentils, nuts, buckwheat.
- Tryptophan: Poultry, meat, fish, dairy products, nuts, seeds, buckwheat, soy products, quinoa.
- Valine: Meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, legumes, grains, quinoa, soy products, buckwheat.
Non-essential amino acids
- Alanine: Meat, seafood, dairy products, beans, nuts.
- Arginine: Red meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, nuts, seeds.
- Asparagine: Asparagus, potatoes, legumes, nuts, seeds.
- Aspartic acid: Meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, legumes, nuts.
- Cysteine: Poultry, eggs, dairy products, broccoli, brussels, sprouts, garlic.
- Glutamic acid: Meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, beans, nuts.
- Glutamine: Meat, seafood, dairy products, legumes.
- Glycine: Meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, beans, nuts.
- Proline: Meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, legumes.
- Tyrosine: Meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, beans, nuts.
- Serine: Meat, fish, poultry, legumes, nuts, dairy products.
WHAT DO YOU NEED AMINO ACIDS FOR?
Amino acids are the micro molecules with distinct peptide bonds that comes together to form a protein. In a simple term, they are the building blocks of protein. The different types of amino acids and the way they are put together with their unique side chains, determines the function of protein in the body. The sources of foods rich in amino acids as already listed helps the body to synthesize the amino acids we need for optimal health.
Amino acids in protein have a lot of benefits to offer in the body and they help to:
- Grow and repair the body worn out tissues.
- They are converted as a great source of energy in the liver.
- Produce hormones and brain chemicals (neurotransmitters).
- Maintain muscle mass and promotes muscle growth.
- Sustenance of a normal digestive system.
- They are used in blood sugar control.
The foods rich in amino acids are majorly protein foods from animals and plant sources. They are either complete proteins or incomplete proteins. It’s important to consume a various foods to ensure you are getting required and sufficient amino acids that your body needs.
Incase of any dietary restrictions to some of these foods rich in amino acids, consulting a registered dietitian or nutritionist will help your journey in maintaining balance while at your preferences or abstaining from your allergies.