Tryptophan is an amino acid that produces serotonin and niacin. Niacin or vitamin B3 is included in the vitamin B complex. It is important in maintaining the level of blood cholesterol, improving the metabolism, and keeping the cardiovascular system healthy. Serotonin on the other hand helps stabilize the mood and promote better sleep. Turkey is one of the most popular serotonin rich food, which many believe make people sleepy.
There are foods that would give you the benefits of niacin and serotonin or tryptophan in general that wouldn’t give you that drowsy feeling. Tryptophan deficiency can cause anxiety and depression. To prevent this from happening, you must eat foods that are high in tryptophan. The recommended daily intake or RDI for this is 4 mg per kilogram or 1.8 mg per pound of body weight. For instance, the %RDI for someone who is 154 pounds or 70 kilograms is 280 mg of tryptophan. Here are some of the foods that are rich in tryptophan, as well as their tryptophan content and %RDI based on the given weight example.
1. Whole Eggs
Eggs are rich in vitamin B2, copper, iron, and zinc. They are good sources of tryptophan. Every 2 eggs or 100 grams of eggs contain 168 mg of tryptophan, which is 60% RDI. One hard-boiled egg has 28% RDI of tryptophan, while one scrambled, fried, omellete, or poached egg has 30% RDI.
2. Cooked White Beans
These are considered as superfoods because they have high content of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. They are beneficial for managing weight, preventing heart disease, and lowering the risk of diabetes. One cup or 17 grams of white beans contain 206 mg tryptophan or 74% RDI. Other types of beans that are also good sources of tryptophan, include black, navy, and pink beans, with 57% RDI per cup, kidney and pinto beans with 66% RDI, yellow beans with 68% RDI, and roman or cranberry beans with 70% RDI.
3. Oat Bran
Oat bran is not only delicious but it has several health benefits. It lowers cholesterol, slows down the absorption of sugar, and makes you feel full fast. One cup or 94 grams of oat bran contains 315 mg of tryptophan or 113% RDI. Wheat bran on the other hand has 59% RDI per cup, while buckwheat has 116% RDI.
4. Cooked Crab
This is rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. It’s also a good source of phosphorus, copper, and riboflavin. Crab is another food that is high in tryptophan. Every 3-ounces or 85 grams of crabs contain 281 mg or 100 RDI of tryptophan. Other shellfishes that contain tryptophan are scallops and oysters with 53% RDI, oysters with 64%, crayfish with 71%, lobster with 75%, prawns with 79%, clams with 87%, octopus with 101%, and spiny lobster with 112%.
5. Cooked Tuna
It’s best known for its rich omega 3-fatty acids, which lower cholesterol level and protect the heart. It also helps prevent inflammation and cancer, and helps boost the immune system. Every 3-ounces or 85 grams of tuna contain 285mg of tryptophan or 102% RDI. Other fishes that are rich in tryptophan are cod with 70% RDI per 3 ounces, haddock with 79%, mackerel with 88%, snapper with 89%, trout and rockfish with 90%, salmon with 98%, and halibut with 102%, all per 3 ounces.
6. Cooked Chicken Breast
The breast is known as the healthiest part of the chicken. Eating it without the skin decreases the amount of calorie you take. Aside from being rich in protein, it’s also an amazing source of tryptophan. One piece or 181 grams of chicken breast gives 731 mg or 261% RDI of tryptophan. Other parts of chicken also contain tryptophan. The following are the parts and their corresponding tryptophan %RDI per ounce. Chicken drumstick gives 102% RDI, chicken wing with 108% RDI, and chicken stewing meat with 117% RDI.
7. Lamb Shoulder
Lamb is high in protein, phosphorus, and zinc, especially those that are grass-fed. Every 3-ounces or 85 grams of lamb shoulder contain 353 mg or 126% RDI of tryptophan. Other types of meat also contain tryptophan and the following data on their tryptophan content is for every 3 ounces of each type of meat. Veal contains 113% RDI, wild boar has 115% RDI, pork tenderloin with 117%, beef steak with 121%, goat with 123%, and rabbit with 133%.
8. Reduced Fat Mozzarella
Mozzarella cheese contains riboflavin, vitamin B6, and biotin. Every cup or 132 grams of diced reduced fat mozzarella cheese contains 754mg or 269% RDI of tryptophan. Other cheeses that are rich in this amino acid are Tilsit, gouda, and edam with 35% RDI, fontina with 36%, swiss with 40%, gruyere with 42%, Romano with 43%, and cheddar and parmesan with 56% RDI per ounce.
9. Roasted Soybeans
Soybeans help enhance the metabolism, regulate circulation, improve bone and digestive health, and lower the risk of diabetes. One cup or 93 grams of soybeans contain 535 mg or 191% RDI of tryptophan. There are also other soya foods that contain this amino acid like tempeh with 19% RDI, boiled soybeans with 24% RDI, fried tofu with 27% RDI, stir-fried sprouted soybeans with 30% RDI, and dried-frozen tofu with 75% RDI per ounce.
10. Squash and Pumpkin Seeds
These seeds are rich in antioxidants, protein, copper, and zinc. Other seeds that are also good sources of tryptophan are flaxseeds with 30% RDI, sunflower seeds with 35% RDI, sesame seeds with 39% RDI, and chia seeds with 44% RDI per ounce.
Our Final Recommendation
Tryptophan has several amazing benefits for the health. Make sure that you include foods that are high in this amino acid in your daily diet to enjoy its benefits. They are also rich in other vitamins and minerals, making them great for the body in general.