Do you want to boost amino acids in your diet? If so, there are well-known protein sources like meat, fish, eggs, cheese, and yogurt. In fact, when we think of protein and their building blocks we tend to focus on animal-based products. These are good sources for the essential amino acids (EAAs) humans have to get from foods and supplements. However, you can also get them from other foods include wheat germ. Another surprising source is vegetables high in amino acids. This is probably surprising but these foods are actually quite high in protein. So, if you want to consume more aminos from natural food these are good options.
The most famous plant-based protein source is beans and peas. Peanuts are another good source of protein and they’re technically beans. There are so many types of legumes you can eat including green, kidney, navy, pinto beans, as well as green peas. Peanuts are one of the most famous types of beans even though their name suggests they’re tree nuts. However, it turns out that beans, in general, are a good source of amino acids. So instead of just eating a cheeseburger, boiled eggs, and plain yogurt you can also get your aminos from lima beans and green peas.
What Animal-sourced Foods Boost Amino Acids?
When we think of high-protein and amino acid foods we usually think of animal-sourced foods first. These are indeed good sources of aminos. Unless you’re vegan/vegetarian or have food allergies like lactose intolerance you should consider eating meat and fish.
There are many options. You can go with basics like beef, pork, chicken, and fish. Some more exotic options include ostrich meat and crocodile eggs. However, you’ll still be getting a “complete protein” that includes all 9 essential amino acids (EAAs). In fact, this helps to make sure you’re getting protein and aminos from the top sources.
You might have some concerns about the saturated fat in red meat or cholesterol in eggs. What’s the big deal? Several studies show that low levels of saturated fat can provide various health problems. The key is to limit your red meat.
How about chicken eggs? You might have heard that eggs are high-cholesterol. That’s actually true and it’s mostly in the yolk along with the protein and fat. That said, it’s also high in good cholesterol.
As long as you don’t have problems with high cholesterol levels you shouldn’t worry about eating 1-2 eggs per day. You could even eat a 2:1 ratio of whites/yolks to cut cholesterol.
Then there’s dairy, which is another excellent animal-based source of protein and amino acids. This includes options like milk, cheese, yogurt, and even a fermented dairy known as kefir. These options also provide complete proteins with all 9 EAAs the human body needs to function properly.
These foods are key to diets like Paleo and Keto for different reasons. If you’re on a low-carb diet like Keto or Atkins then you’ll be required to consume more protein and fats and fewer carbohydrates.
Paleo ditches most dairy for another reason. If food wasn’t on the caveman menu then dieters aren’t allowed to eat it.
Best Vegetables High in Amino Acids
These are easily the most famous plant-based source for aminos. They include:
- Kidney beans
- String beans
- Green beans
- Navy beans
- Green peas
These are also loaded with other nutrients like vitamins and minerals. You might have heard that beans are unhealthy because of the protein “lectin” in them. A quick fix is to soak, sprout, or simply cook the beans to reduce the lectins. Problem solved!
Are you adding enough fungi in your diet? Mushrooms are high in lots of nutrients including Vitamin Bs and antioxidants. You can also get amino acids from them so if you want to boost your intake naturally it’s a good option. Fun Fact: Planet Earth has 50,000+ edible mushrooms.
One of the things to keep in mind when cooking mushrooms is, they cook down very quickly. So, you’ll generally want to add them in last after other ingredients like meat, potatoes, and carrots. There are also so many varieties you can try out some new ones and see what results you get.
3. Water Plants
If you’re a fan of sushi or Chinese food then it’s good news you can get amino acids from foods like seaweed and watercress. These foods aren’t as well-known as land-based amino sources. However, they contain certain amino acids that make them a good option if you want to consume more aminos.
4. Green Leafy Vegetables
Some of the best options for aminos include cabbage, spinach, and broccoli. These are all considered as superfoods and provide lots of different nutrients. Besides ones like Vitamin C and calcium, you can also get some aminos from these foods.
These veggies are quite easy to add to your diet. You could make beef & broccoli, spinach casserole, or coleslaw. They’re healthy raw or cooked although uncooked veggies help to provide more vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants.
What’s an Incomplete Protein?
If you’re on a plant-based diet it will be tougher to get your protein since you’ll have less access to something called “complete proteins.” These include all 9 essential amino acids that the body needs. The proteins also provide enough of those aminos so you’re basically getting “good” protein.
Animal-sourced complete proteins include meat, fish, eggs, and milk. You should probably go with more white meat and eggs over red meat to avoid high levels of saturated fat. However, each of these foods hares complete proteins so you’re getting lots of the macronutrient.
Meanwhile, there are some plant-based foods like quinoa (grain/seed) and soybeans that are also considered as complete proteins. This helps to explain why there are so many soy/tofu products on the market today. For example, it’s an excellent protein source for vegans since they don’t eat animal products.
Quinoa is less known but it’s been trending in recent years. It’s technically a seed. Another plus of this food is It’s gluten-free so you won’t have to worry about issues if you have a gluten allergy, for example. You can find many online recipes that include quinoa so it’s worth trying them out.
However, plant-based foods usually are “incomplete proteins” so you should eat a variety to get different amino acids. For example, the classic 3-bean salad is a good option because it includes kidney beans, green beans, and chickpeas. So, you’ll be getting different types/amounts of amino acids.
As always, it’s best to eat a wide variety of healthy foods to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need.
That includes amino acids. This is especially critical if you’re not eating meat, dairy, or eggs since you’ll have to get the aminos from other foods. It shouldn’t be an issue if you eat a wide variety of vegetables high in amino acids.