Sunday, June 7, 2009

Question Everything

Can you tell me what is an essential amino acid?

An essential amino acid is an amino acid that cannot be made in our body and must be obtained from our diet. There are 8 essential amino acids and most are found in foods that contain protein such as beef, poultry, pork, fish, milk, yogurt, eggs, cheese, soy products and certain nuts and seeds. Foods that contain all 8 essentail amino acids are referred to as complete proteins. These come from animal sources. Many athletes take whey protein as a dietary supplement. Whey protein is a complete protein that contains all the essential amino acids. Foods that contain some, but not all, essential amino acids are called incomplete proteins and these come from plant sources.

Here is a list of the essential amino acids and a sample of select dietary sources (but keep in mind meat/fish and dairy are predominant sources)

Phenylalanine: Cottage cheese, roasted peanuts, sesame seeds.
Valine: Cottage cheese, roasted peanuts, sesame seeds.
Tryptophan: Turkey, brown rice, nuts, oats, bananas.
Threonine: Eggs, bananas, carrots.
Isoleucine: Cheese, seeds, nuts, eggs.
Methionine: Whole grains, beans, eggs.
Lysine: Lentils, soybeans.
Leucine : Soy beans, cowpeas.

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