Can’t go to sleep or stay asleep? Feeling moody all the time? If only there was a magic pill that could help alleviate these symptoms, in addition to assisting in cognitive function and helping regulate appetite among other benefits.
Well, it doesn’t get much better than L-Tryptophan!
Although some people tend to supplement Tryptophan to get the most benefits, this natural amino acid is found in many foods. If you don’t want to spend big bucks on natural pills, eating more of the following L-Tryptophan foods is an effective way to ensure you get enough of this mood-boosting, cognitive-enhancing, and appetite-suppressing amino acid.
Here are the 11 best food sources of L-Tryptophan:
1. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are among the richest sources of L-Tryptophan. Per 100g, they contain 576mg (206% RDI) of the amino acid, which is more than most foods on this list.
If you aren’t a fan of pumpkin seeds, other notable L-Tryptophan foods include chia seeds (124mg), flax seeds (84mg) and cashews (75mg).
Milk is another great source of tryptophan. Yummy food for most people, but one that’s gained a bad rep due to extensive food processing.
While processed store-bought milk might contain a similar amount of tryptophan as the organic raw milk from grass-fed cows (211mg per 16oz/400ml glass), it’s deprived of beneficial enzymes and other nutrients that help you digest milk easier.
This is why health-conscious people opt for organic, raw milk from cows that were grass-fed. This kind of milk doesn’t cause any of the side effects that store bought milk does for most people, and it’s also richer in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.
Besides being high in potassium and magnesium, bananas also contain hefty amounts of L-Tryptophan, which gets converted to 5-HTP in your brain. Afterwards, the 5-HTP turns to serotonin, an essential neurotransmitter that helps regulate your mood, sleep, appetite, and movement among other functions.
You probably know of the infamous post-Thanksgiving lunch sleepiness. Many people say it’s because of turkey. Is this true?
Well, it partially is! While the amount of food you eat for the Thanksgiving lunch is likely the biggest contributing factor to sleepiness, it also contains a good amount of L-Tryptophan.
Per 100g of turkey, you get 404mg of the amino acid.
You can’t really go wrong with salmon – wild salmon – which as you’ve guessed has plenty of L-Tryptophan. Combine it with organic milk and eggs for a delicious smoked salmon frittata. 🙂
Salmon also contains powerful anti-inflammatory omega-3s which help balance your cholesterol, blood pressure, and aid in daily energy production. Making it one of the excellent L-Tryptophan foods!
6. Lean Pork Meat
While beef is more common in America, Lean Pork Meat actually contains just as much (in some cases more) Tryptophan per 100g – 369mg.
This makes pork an excellent choice for people who want to cut down on their red meat intake. That is, if the animal was fed its natural food and wasn’t injected with hormones!
If you’re someone who eats oatmeal for breakfast, you’ll want to know that oats are pretty high in the amino acid Tryptophan – containing 33% of RDI per cup.
So, if you ever notice that you get a little sluggish or drowsy after your morning oatmeal, this is it. Yummy warm oatmeal for dinner, anyone?
Eggs are an amazing source of pretty much any nutrient you can think of – tryptophan included! Research has found eggs can significantly boost up the levels of available tryptophan in the blood.
Per 100g, eggs contain 153mg of tryptophan. But here’s the catch: you don’t want to be throwing out the yolk. This is where most of the amino acid is.
Besides, egg yolks are an excellent source of so many other nutrients – like L-Tyrosine (another mood-boosting amino acid), B vitamins, and healthy fats that protect your liver from bad cholesterol.
9. Soy Products
Tofu, for example, is a goldmine of L-Tryptophan. If you’re a vegan, you’ll want to include more of high-quality soy products into your diet to get optimal levels of L-Tryptophan.
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Tofu’s high calcium content keeps your bones and ligaments strong, too.
This might be an unexpected one, but did you know that spirulina is one of the best, if not the best L-Tryptophan foods?
Many people may know that spirulina is a ‘superfood’ that contains a huge amount of beneficial nutrients. But did you know that among those nutrients, it has 929mg of tryptophan per 100g? That’s 5 times more than turkey!
11. Wheat Germ
Grains such as wheat have gotten a bad rep over the years. Part of the reason why: white flour is a highly processed food that only consists of endosperm, which is where proteins and carbohydrates are.
The other two parts of the wheat grain – the bran and the germ – have been removed.
On the other hand, whole-grain flour contains both the germ and the bran, which are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Just in case you need another reason to eat whole grains instead of refined ones, consider that wheat germ is chock-full of tryptophan – 398mg per 100g!
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