What vegetable have amino acids? Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. They are also used in several other functions within your body. Different proteins contain different amino acids so it is recommended that we consume a wide variety of proteins throughout the day. Amino acids are sold as dietary supplements — not because they are inherently bad but because the human body can synthesize them on its own. Vegetables naturally contain amino acids which benefit our health on many levels. Vegetables also provide fiber and a host of vitamins and minerals to support healthy digestion and mental function, among other things.
Amino acids are molecules used by all living things to make proteins. Your body needs 20 different amino acids to function correctly. Nine of these amino acids are called essential amino acids. Essential amino acids must be consumed through the food you eat. Essential amino acids can be found in a variety of foods, including beef, eggs and dairy.
What are amino acids?
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Proteins are long chains of amino acids. Your body has thousands of different proteins that each have important jobs. Each protein has its own sequence of amino acids. The sequence makes the protein take different shapes and have different functions in your body.
You can think of amino acids like the letters of the alphabet. When you combine letters in various ways, you make different words. The same goes for amino acids — when you combine them in various ways, you make different proteins.
What are the different types of amino acids?
Your body needs 20 different kinds of amino acids to function correctly. These 20 amino acids combine in different ways to make proteins in your body.
Your body makes hundreds of amino acids, but it can’t make nine of the amino acids you need. These are called essential amino acids. You must get them from the food you eat. The nine essential amino acids are:
- Histidine: Histidine helps make a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) called histamine. Histamine plays an important role in your body’s immune function, digestion, sleep and sexual function.
- Isoleucine: Isoleucine is involved with your body’s muscle metabolism and immune function. It also helps your body make hemoglobin and regulate energy.
- Leucine: Leucine helps your body make protein and growth hormones. It also helps grow and repair muscle tissue, heal wounds and regulate blood sugar levels.
- Lysine: Lysine is involved in the production of hormones and energy. It’s also important for calcium and immune function.
- Methionine: Methionine helps with your body’s tissue growth, metabolism and detoxification. Methionine also helps with the absorption of essential minerals, including zinc and selenium.
- Phenylalanine: Phenylalanine is needed for the production of your brain’s chemical messengers, including dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine. It’s also important for the production of other amino acids.
- Threonine: Threonine plays an important role in collagen and elastin. These proteins provide structure to your skin and connective tissue. They also help with forming blood clots, which help prevent bleeding. Threonine plays an important role in fat metabolism and your immune function, too.
- Tryptophan: Tryptophan helps maintain your body’s correct nitrogen balance. It also helps make a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) called serotonin. Serotonin regulates your mood, appetite and sleep.
- Valine: Valine is involved in muscle growth, tissue regeneration and making energy.
Your body produces the rest of the 11 amino acids you need. These are called nonessential amino acids. The nonessential amino acids are alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine and tyrosine.
Some nonessential amino acids are classified as conditional. This means they’re only considered essential when you’re ill or stressed. Conditional amino acids include arginine, cysteine, glutamine, tyrosine, glycine, ornithine, proline and serine.
What is the structure of an amino acid?
An amino acid is an organic chemical. Organic chemicals contain carbon-hydrogen bonds. All amino acids have the same basic structure. Each molecule has a central carbon atom linked together with a basic amino group, a carboxylic acid group, a hydrogen atom and an R-group, or side-chain group. The R-group is what sets the amino acids apart. The R-group determines each amino acid’s chemical nature. The chemical nature controls how it’ll interact with other amino acids and its environment.
The amino acids link together with peptide bonds and become proteins. Then, the forces of other amino acids and the effects of their R-groups fold the protein into specific three-dimensional shapes.
What do amino acids do?
Your body uses amino acids to make proteins. The different types of amino acids and the way they’re put together determine the function of each protein. So, amino acids are involved in many important roles in your body. Amino acids help:
- Break down food.
- Grow and repair body tissue.
- Make hormones and brain chemicals (neurotransmitters).
- Provide an energy source.
- Maintain healthy skin, hair and nails.
- Build muscle.
- Boost your immune system.
- Sustain a normal digestive system.
How many amino acids do I need?
You don’t need to eat foods with amino acids at every meal, but it’s important to get a balance of them throughout your day. The recommended daily allowance for every 2.2 pounds of body weight for each of the essential amino acids are:
- Histidine: 14 milligrams
- Isoleucine: 19 milligrams
- Leucine: 42 milligrams
- Lysine: 38 milligrams
- Methionine: 19 milligrams
- Phenylalanine: 33 milligrams
- Threonine: 20 milligrams
- Tryptophan: 5 milligrams
- Valine: 24 milligrams
What foods contain amino acids?
Essential amino acids can be found in many different foods. The best sources of amino acids are found in animal proteins such as beef, poultry and eggs. Animal proteins are the most easily absorbed and used by your body.
Foods that contain all nine essential amino acids are called complete proteins. These foods include beef, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, soy, quinoa and buckwheat.
Foods that contain some but not all the essential amino acids are called incomplete proteins. These foods include nuts, seeds, beans and some grains. If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, you need to include several types of incomplete proteins in order to ensure you’re consuming all nine essential amino acids.
Should I take amino acid supplements?
You can usually get all the essential amino acids your body needs by eating a healthy, balanced diet. Some people take amino acid supplements to get better sleep, improve their mood and enhance athletic performance. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved these supplements. You should speak with your healthcare provider before starting any supplements, including amino acid supplements.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. They are the molecules that all living things need to make protein, and you need 20 of them to help your body function properly. Your body makes 11 of the necessary amino acids. The good news is you don’t have to do anything special to get the remaining nine amino acids your body needs. You just need to eat a balanced diet. Focus on complete proteins — foods that contain all nine essential amino acids, such as meat, eggs and dairy. Incomplete proteins such as nuts and beans are good, too. Talk to your healthcare provider if you need help or suggestions on getting enough amino acids in your diet.
Foods High in Amino Acids
Amino acids are organic compounds that come together to form proteins in your body. There are 20 amino acids overall, and they each fall into one of three categories:
Because your body cannot make the nine essential amino acids itself, you need to get them from the foods you eat.
The essential amino acids include:
Arginine is considered an essential amino acid for young people, but generally not for adults.
Why You Need Amino Acids
Amino acids are known as the building blocks of protein, which is an important component of every cell in your body.
Here are a few roles that amino acids play in your overall health:
Enhanced Athletic Performance
Athletes commonly use leucine, isoleucine, and valine to improve their performance. These amino acids can be metabolized in muscle to provide extra energy during exercise.
Reduced Muscle Breakdown
Research suggests that taking amino acid supplements during recovery days after exercise reduces muscle damage as well as the soreness that comes along with it.
Improved Liver Function
Evidence suggests that taking branched-chain amino acids by mouth can improve liver function in people with poor brain function due to liver disease.
Foods With Amino Acids
Because many foods are rich in amino acids, it’s generally easy to get your daily requirement. However, the recommended daily intake is different for each amino acid.
Most foods from animal protein sources will provide all the essential amino acids you need, and many plant-based protein foods can be excellent sources of amino acids as well.
These five foods are some of the best sources of dietary amino acids available:
Quinoa is one of the most nutritious grains available today. In addition to being a good source of fiber, it contains all nine essential amino acids that your body needs from food. It also has a higher amount of lysine than wheat or rice, making it a better source of these amino acids than other grains.
Eggs are an excellent source of protein, containing all of the essential amino acids. Studies suggest that the amino acids provided by eggs are better utilized by your body than other sources like casein or soy.
Turkey has high amounts of tryptophan, an amino acid the body uses to make the B vitamin called niacin, which is necessary for digestion, healthy skin, and nerves. Tryptophan also helps produce serotonin, which affects your mood and can contribute to feelings of happiness and relaxation. Because they’re all high in protein, other meats are good sources of amino acids as well.
- Cottage cheese
One 100-gram serving of cottage cheese provides about 25% of your daily value of protein and contains significant quantities of several amino acids, including threonine and tryptophan.
Mushrooms contain a total of 17 amino acids, including all of the essential ones. One study showed that supplementing a cereal diet with mushroom would help overcome lysine deficiency.
Most types of fish contain essential amino acids and other important micronutrients. Salmon is high in amino acids and Omega 3s (important fatty acids that support heart and other health).
- Legumes and Beans
Legumes are a great source of high-quality protein — 20-45% of their protein is rich in the amino acid lysine. Peas and beans contain 17-20% high-quality protein while lupins and soybeans contain 38-45%. Legumes and beans
What are amino acids?
You can get enough essential amino acids through eating a diet rich in protein. These proteins are available in both plant foods and animal foods.
Amino acids are an important nutrient required for life and good health maintenance. They are sometimes called macronutrients and combine to form proteins. Proteins and amino acids are the building blocks of life.
Amino acids are long-chain molecules that make up protein. You have protein in your body in muscles, bones, skin, hair, and almost every tissue or body part. They also make enzymes that drive important chemical reactions in the body.
Your body doesn’t store amino acids, so it makes them from scratch or from others instead. There are more than 20 amino acids, which fall into three groups:
- Essential amino acids
- Nonessential amino acids
- Conditional amino acids
Your body cannot make essential amino acids from scratch or from other amino acids, so you must get them from food. These include:
If you’re an adult, your body can make nonessential and conditional amino acids. Children’s bodies can’t produce enough conditional amino acids to meet their needs.
Benefits of amino acids
Amino acids are required for life. Your body uses amino acids to build protein in your muscles, skin, hair, organs, and tissues and as a source of energy. Amino acids are important to:
- Build muscle
- Break down food
- Repair tissues
- Balance nitrogen in the body
- Regulate appetite
- Regulate blood pressure
- Build brain chemicals
- Regulate the immune system
Amino acids are responsible for many other processes and functions in the body.
Foods high in essential amino acids
You can get enough essential amino acids through eating a diet rich in protein. These proteins are available in both plant foods and animal foods.
Some foods contain complete proteins. These are foods that contain all 20 or more types of amino acids. Some foods are incomplete proteins and they may be missing one more of the nine essential amino acids.
Animal and plant foods that contain complete proteins or all amino acids include:
- Red meat
- Chia seeds
Plant foods that contain some amino acids include:
How much protein do you need?
The Recommended Daily Allowance for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day in the United States, or about 7 grams for every 20 pounds of bodyweight. That means if you weigh 140 pounds, you should eat about 50 grams of protein in a day.
Most healthy people who live in a developed country get more than enough protein in their diet. However, millions of people, especially children and those who live in developing countries, do not get enough protein because of food insecurity.
The best way to get all the amino acids you need is to eat a variety of foods throughout the day that contain amino acids. People who do not eat animal foods may need to eat more and a greater variety of plant foods that contain amino acids to reach their recommended daily intake.
Risks and outlook
Protein is required for your health to maintain healthy body functions. Children need extra protein as they grow, and pregnant or breastfeeding women need good amounts of protein as they grow a baby.
Risks of not enough protein
People who live with food insecurity may have difficulty getting enough protein and essential amino acids. People who do not eat animal foods may also be at risk for not enough protein or a variety of proteins. Too little protein and malnutrition can lead to:
- Poor growth
- Loss of muscle mass
- Weakened heart
- Weakened respiratory system
- Decreased immunity
Severe malnutrition and a lack of protein can lead to death.
Amino Acid Rich Foods for a Healthy You
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:
- Lysine methionine
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.