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5 Plant Foods with More Tryptophan than Turkey
November 5, 2015
Tryptophan is one of the essential amino acids that our bodies need. It is important for numerous functions in the body, particularly alleviating depression and anxiety. This is because the body converts tryptophan into serotonin in the body.
Contrary to what most think, it isn't the tryptophan in turkey which makes us feel tired after Thanksgiving dinner. Yes, tryptophan does help induce sleep – but it is more likely that massive calorie overload is what causes sleepiness after Thanksgiving dinner. We actually eat lots of foods with more tryptophan than turkey on a daily basis, but don't stay that these make us feel tired!
There is absolutely no reason you have to eat turkey – or any meat – to get enough tryptophan in your diet. A 100 gram serving of turkey breast has about 194mg of tryptophan but all of the following plant foods are loaded with even more tryptophan! (Source)
Spirulina is considered one of the best superfoods, and for good reason.It is loaded with iron, B vitamins, magnesium, and healthy Omega 3 fats.It also has about 929mg of tryptophan per 100 gram serving.So, while it technically isn't a plant (it is an algae), we've included it on this list because it contains almost 5x the amount of tryptophan as turkey!
Another superfood, chia seeds are a great source of tryptophan. A 100 gram serving provides 738 mg of tryptophan, plus calcium, zinc, and Omega 3. You can use chia seed in a tasty pudding or put them into a superfood smoothie.
Pepitas are the raw seeds from pumpkins or squash. They are small, green colored, and crunchy. You can put them on your salads to spruce them up a bit, or just snack on the seeds in trail mix. You will be glad you did since pepitas have more than twice the amount of tryptophan as turkey.
Grains have three parts: the endosperm, the bran, and the germ.White flour is made from just the endosperm, which is where the carbohydrates and proteins are located.By contrast, whole-grain flours contain the bran and the germ, which are loaded with fiber, vitamins, and minerals.Just in case you need another reason to choose whole grain products, consider that wheat germ is loaded with tryptophan – 398mg per 100 grams.
Nuts are a great source of protein, including the amino acid tryptophan. The nuts with the most tryptophan are cashews, pistachios, and almonds.Include these in your Thanksgiving stuffing and you'll have as much -- or more -- tryptophan than if you'd eaten turkey.