Foods that have the essential amino acids our bodies need.

Updated: May 22

The body needs 20 different amino acids to maintain good health

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins in your body, so the foods with the highest amount of amino acids are also foods that are highest in protein. Of the 20 amino acids, nine are essential because your body can't make them. Essential amino acids must come from protein-containing foods in your diet. Eating a variety of vegetarian and animal proteins throughout the day helps you meet your daily need for essential amino acids. Animal-based foods contain all of the essential amino acids, while most plant-based protein sources are low in one or more of the essential amino acids. Your body relies on amino acids to build and repair tissues, to digest food, for formation and function of enzymes and to transport molecules, such as oxygen, through your body. The essential amino acids are known as isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.

Essential amino acids must come from protein

Animal Proteins - Red Meat

When you think of protein, meat and animal products probably come to mind first. Animal tissues contain all the 9 essential amino acids your body needs, making them what's commonly called "complete proteins." Eating beef, pork, turkey, chicken or eggs helps you meet your protein requirements. Fattier cuts of meat are lower in protein, so you can choose lean meats. You can remove the skin and trim excess fat from meat, which will also limit saturated fat and calorie intake. Red meat is one of the foods highest in protein, lean cuts of beef provide about 31 grams in each 3-ounce serving. Ham and pork sirloin roast each provide about 28 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving, and pork chops contain about 21 grams per 3-ounce serving.

Poultry and eggs If you don't want to eat red meat to get a good daily intake of protein and the 9 essential amino acids, A 3-ounce serving of chicken or turkey breast has about 28 grams of protein. You can get a significant amount of the necessary amino acids from eggs, which contains all the essential amino acids. A medium-sized egg contains about 6.3 grams of complete protein, which is about 15 percent of the recommended daily amount for adults. Furthermore, about 35 percent of the calories in an egg are derived from its protein and amino acids. In terms of essential amino acids, the egg white contains about 1.5 grams in a medium-sized egg. ​ Seafood-Wild Fish Seafood provides another healthy way to get amino acids. According the U.S. Department of Agriculture, most fish, such as salmon, tuna and halibut contain 7 to 8 grams of protein per ounce. Shrimp and crab, contain slightly less protein with about 6 grams per ounce. Seafood also contains all the essential amino acids, making it a "complete protein." As an added bonus- certain fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna and mackerel contain essential fatty acids called omega-3 fatty acids that may help to prevent chronic disease. A large part of the brain is made up of omega-3 fats, Wild fish is the ultimate brain food making its nutrients critical for healthy brain function. Recommended at-least 2 serving per week, one serving equals 75 grams or 2.5 ounces. ​ Legumes, Nuts and Seeds Vegetarian proteins are referred to as "incomplete proteins." contain amino acids. They have a different ratios than animal proteins and often lack adequate daily amounts of a certain essential amino acids. However, eating combinations of legumes, nuts and whole grains throughout the day provides you with all the amino acids you need. Soybeans are one of the few vegetarian foods that contain all the essential amino acids. Legumes, such as lentils, chickpeas, black beans and pinto beans, contain anywhere from 11 to 18 grams of protein per cup. Nuts and seeds, such as almonds, walnuts and sunflower seeds, give you about 6 to 8 grams of protein per ounce. As bonus, Legumes, Nuts and Seeds are also linked to reduced risk of heart disease. Add to your daily diet 1-ounce (raw or roasted) of walnuts, peanuts, Brazilian nuts, hazel nuts, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, flax seed, sesame seed or unhydrogenated nut butters such as peanut butter. Walnuts also have high nutritional values that make them a excellent food for your liver. ​ Whole Grains - Plant-Based Protein Sources Like everything else in your body, the brain cannot work without a steady supply of energy. Whole grains provide small amounts of vegetarian protein and amino acids. A cup of whole grain pasta or long grain rice gives you 6 to 7 grams of protein. Quinoa, a small seed grain, contains all the essential amino acids, making it a "complete protein." You'll get about 8 grams of protein from eating 1 cup of cooked quinoa. To get the most amino acids, fiber, vitamins and minerals, focus on Whole grains, as well as other fiber-rich complex starches like beans, fruit and vegetables, digest more slowly than refined carbohydrates, providing a steady gradual release of glucose in our blood to the brain ​

Dairy Products You can get a significant amount of the necessary amino acids from eggs and dairy foods. When it comes to dairy products, low-fat and non-fat sources provide the most protein per gram and per calorie. A 1-ounce slice of non-fat mozzarella provides 9 grams of protein, while the same amount of low-fat Swiss cheese contains 8 grams. Each ounce of Parmesan cheese has 10 grams of protein. A cup of yogurt provides 14 grams of protein. Fat-free milk is higher in protein and lower in calories. A single cup delivers 8.4 grams of protein and only 0.4 grams of fat. Most stores also sell milk fortified with vitamin A or vitamin D, which helps improve calcium absorption, leading to stronger bones and teeth.