Foods are the source of many vitamins and minerals that our body needs. It is the most delicious way to gain strength and be healthy.
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and the human body needs 20 different amino acids to grow and function. Traditionally, amino acids are associated with weight training, but the organic compound can be also helpful to any who are exercising a lot, has a low-protein diet, or is seriously trying to build muscle mass.
There are three categories of amino acids namely essential, nonessential, and conditional amino acids.
- Nonessential amino acids are alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, and glutamic acid. They are synthesized by the body and build from scratch.
- Conditional amino acids, on the other hand, are amino acids that are considered not essential until you get sick or experience extreme stress. Conditional amino acids are arginine, cysteine, glutamine, tyrosine, glycine, ornithine, and proline.
- Essential amino acids (also known as EAA) are amino acids that the human body needs. It has 9 kinds namely histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine and each has its own function, respectively.
Three out of these 9 EAA are branched-chain amino acids (or BCAA for experts). They are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These branched-chain amino acids can increase muscle growth, reduce exercise fatigue, decrease muscle soreness, improve brain function and prevent muscle breakdown as it can stimulate the building of proteins.
Unfortunately, unlike nonessential amino acids that can be synthesized by the body, essential amino acids are only obtained through eating and consuming protein-based food. It should be supplied every day as the body cannot store it for later use. Failure to gain even one of the essential amino acids can affect both physical and mental health.
So here is a list of foods where your body can have amino acids.
Animal tissues contain all the essential amino acids our body needs and so it is often referred to as complete proteins. Most animal proteins have about 9 grams of protein per ounce. Below are some of the animal products and their protein content per ounce or serving.
As mentioned above, meat is complete of the 9 essential amino acids. In fact, a 3-ounce serving of red meat will give your body 31 grams of proteins. Ham and pork sirloin, on the other hand, will give you 28 grams per 3-ounce serving and pork chops will grant 21 grams per 3-ounce serving.
Poultry like chicken and turkey can give your body 28 grams of proteins per 3 ounces of serving.
Large eggs have 6 grams of protein. Eggs are also a good source of isoleucine and valine.
Isoleucine is an isolated form of leucine. It helps the body to produce hemoglobin and energy. Valine, on the other hand, helps maintain proper cell and organ function. It also contributes to the central nervous system function.
Dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese are not exactly made from animal meat; however, they are produced from animals. It provides essential amino acids as it contains about 8 grams of proteins per serving. An article mentioned that low fat and non-fat sources also provide the most protein per gram and per calorie. For instance, an ounce slice of mozzarella cheese provides 9 grams of protein the same with Swiss cheese. Furthermore, an ounce of Parmesan cheese has 10 grams of protein while a cup of yogurt can give you 14 grams of proteins.
Seafood is also one of the best sources of proteins and is considered “complete protein” as well. United State Department of Agriculture stated that most fish such as salmon, tuna, and halibut contains 7 to 8 grams of protein per ounce. Crustaceans such as shrimp and crab contain 6 grams of proteins per ounce.
Additionally, certain fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel, and salmon contain essential fatty acids called omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3 fatty acids may help to prevent chronic diseases.
Vegetarians have protein providers as well. There are plant-based products that are rich in proteins. Some of these are complete proteins while some are not. Plant products that are incomplete with amino acids are mixed to get the same result as the complete protein foods.
Legumes, Nuts, and Seeds
These three plant-based protein products often referred to as “incomplete protein” for lacking adequate amounts of certain amino acids; however, eating a combination of legumes, nuts, and whole grains throughout the day will provide all the amino acids that the body needs.
Legumes can contain anywhere from 11 t0 18 grams of protein per cup. Nuts and seeds will give about 6 to 8 grams of proteins per ounce. Beans can provide proteins between 15 and 17 grams of proteins per cup.
Pea protein, sunflower seeds, and kidney beans are some sources of leucine, one of the branched-chain amino acids. It helps support muscle growth and supports sugar metabolism by moderating insulin into the body during and after exercise.
Whole grains provide small amounts of vegetarian protein and amino acids. A cup, for example, will give you 6 to 7 grams of protein. You better focus on whole grain foods like whole wheat bread instead of processed grains such as white flour so you can get the most amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and fiber per serving.
Three ounces serving of tofu has 6 grams proteins. It is also a good replacement for meat for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians as it is completely healthy and delicious. Moreover, tofu is originated from soy which is considered a complete protein food.
Quinoa is a flowering plant in the amaranth family. It is considered one of the complete protein foods from the plant-based protein products as it also has the 9 essential amino acids the same with meat. A cup of quinoa will give you 6 to 7 grams of protein.
A very popular food among Asians. Soy, like quinoa, is complete of the 9 essential amino acids and considered as a complete protein.