20 Tryptophan Foods To Include In Your Diet

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Tryptophan Foods include Milk, Seeds, Nuts, Red Meats, Fruits, and others. Tryptophan in foods helps to regulate better sleep and improve mood. Tryptophan or L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid, a building block used to make protein. Tryptophan in the diet is recommended 250-425 mg per day.

Tryptophan helps regulate our sleep cycle by producing a chemical called serotonin, a mood stabilizer, and melatonin, a sleep-regulating hormone. So the following 20 foods are an ideal incorporation to your dinnertime meal to help you gear up for your sound night of sleep.

1. Milk

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Milk is the remedy for an unhealthy sleep cycle. It is a rich source of protein, and consuming protein-rich food helps to receive tryptophan. The acid is known to boost the sleep hormone called Melatonin. This protein is useful in keeping our sleep cycle healthy and active. Other than being beneficial to serotonin levels, milk can boost them as well.

With high level of melatonin, serotonin, and even magnesium makes it a perfect source of sleep hormones. 473 ml or 16 ounces of skim milk provides 211 mg of tryptophan or 75% of the RDI and 16.5 grams of protein.

2. Chicken Breast

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Chicken meat contains a high amount of tryptophan. Chicken breast being absolutely carb-free, low in fat, and a lean source of protein is perfect for tryptophan. 100 grams of chicken breast provides 404 mg of tryptophan which equals 144% of the RDI.

Just like Turkey, chicken is also high in tryptophan acid which gives a comforting and relaxing feeling after consuming a hot big bowl of chicken soup. Although chicken isn’t high enough to make you sleepy, it could help to boost the serotine level.

3. Beef Steak

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Red meat is a great source of tryptophan amino acids. Beef steak is a lean source of protein and several other nutrients. Just like turkey and chicken, beef requires a great deal of energy to digest and in this process, the melatonin makes you dizzy and sleepy.

100 grams of beef steak supplies 374 mg of tryptophan or 134% of the RDI. Other red meats high in tryptophan include roast lamb at 126% RDI, beef stew at 113% RDI, and buffalo sirloin steak offers 64% RDI.

4. Lean Pork Chops

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Pork is one of the most consumed meat all around the world after chicken and beef. Pork chops are a great source of tryptophan, supplying 132% of the RDI in 100 grams of lean pork chops. With every 100 grams of pork chop, you get 369 mg of tryptophan. Apart from that chop meat are rich in other nutrients such as selenium.

6 ounces provides 147% of the RDI of selenium. They are excellent for keeping your thyroid under control. Apart from that selenium also guards the body against harmful oxidative damage.

5. Firm Tofu

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Foods with Tryptophan vegan are Tofu, soy milk, and other plant-based products. Tofu comes under the list of top tryptophan-rich vegetarian foods. One cup of cooked firm tofu encompasses 212% of the RDI and every 100 grams of firm tofu supplies 84% of the RDI.

Tofu is also rich in fiber, B vitamins, and calcium, and provides 43 grams of protein in each serving. Soy products are rich in tryptophan. This is a perfect food for vegan as well as vegetarian people as you can substitute soy products with any protein.

6. Sockeye Salmon

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Being a great source of protein, Salmon provides a lot of tryptophan. Sockeye salmon are known to have more tryptophan than turkey. Every 6 ounces of Sockeye salmon fillet provides 203% of the RDI for tryptophan whereas turkey offers only 174%.

However, this is not all that Salmon has to offer. It is high in vitamin D, selenium, vitamin B6, and above all omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 is known as healthy fats that are beneficial for heart health, bone strength, skin elasticity, and many other benefits.

7. Turkey Breast

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This list of tryptophan foods cannot be complete without turkey. Although they are not so high in tryptophan, turkey is relatively high in amino acids. A 6-ounce of roast turkey breast supplies 488 mg of tryptophan which amounts to 174% of the RDI.

Other than amino acids, turkey breast supplies selenium, phosphorus, vitamin B6, zinc, and vitamin B12. The amino acid present in turkey releases melatonin and as a result, dinner loaded with carbs and turkey creates a sleepy effect after the meal. These amino acids are also the building blocks for a protein.

8. Edamame

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Edamame or Green soybean is another plant-based protein perfect for vegan lovers. They are called a complete protein food due to the presence of all nine essential amino acids. Edamame is also a great source of fiber. One cup of boiled edamame supplies 149% of the RDI for tryptophan, 37% of DV for fiber, and 31 grams of protein.

Edamame is a nutritional food and an amazing source of magnesium, copper, vitamin K, thiamin, and folate. Soya products are comparatively high in protein and their amino acid composition is almost close to that of animal protein.

9. Seeds

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Seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower, chia, and others are a great source of tryptophan. The protein content available in these superfoods helps the body to produce tryptophan. Pumpkin seeds are packed with L-tryptophan. Consuming a handful of this seed provides more tryptophan than a turkey dinner.

Pumpkin seeds help to minimize worries, promote sleep, and improve mood. 100 gram serving of pumpkin seed provides 576 mg of tryptophan or 206% of the RDI. With the same quantity, chia seeds provide 738 mg of tryptophan and calcium, zinc, and Omega-3 fatty acids.

10. Oats

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Oatmeal is a healthy, nutritious, and easy breakfast idea to kick-start a day. 1 cup of cooked oatmeal provides 33% of tryptophan. The same quantity of oatmeal supplies 5.9 grams of protein, and 12 % of the DV of fiber. Oatmeal is a popular breakfast enjoyed all over the world.

Some other cooked whole grains high in tryptophan are quinoa which provides 37% of the RDI per cup; whole wheat pasta provides 32% per cup, brown rice supplies 21% per cup, and corn meal provides 8% per cup of the RDI.

11. Eggs

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Eggs are another healthy breakfast option. One large egg provides 77 mg (27% RDI) of Tryptophan, while the white part has 41 mg. Therefore, if you prepare scrambled eggs from one cup of whole eggs you will get 306 mg (109%) of tryptophan. Eggs are a good source of protein that helps to upgrade the plasma levels of tryptophan.

100 grams of boiled eggs provides 153 mg (55% RDI) of tryptophan. Apart from amino acids, eggs are naturally high in riboflavin, vitamins B12, and D, selenium, and iodine.

12. Nuts

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Nuts such as cashews, almonds, pistachios, and walnuts are another plant-based protein food rich in healthy fats, and fiber. Modest consumption of nuts is responsible for lowering the risk of depression to some extent.

Brazil nuts, almonds, and pine nuts are high in minerals such as selenium and zinc. These minerals are known for the smooth functioning of the brain. 1 ounce of walnut provides 48 mg (17% RDI) of tryptophan, and roasted cashews supply 1000 to 2000 mg of tryptophan in ¼ cup serving.

13. Beans, and Lentils

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Beans and lentils are a top source of plant-based protein. They are loaded with fibers that are good for your gut. Apart from that there are many health benefits beans and lentils offer including, cholesterol control, maintaining blood pressure, and lowering the risk of heart disease and they can make you feel fuller for a long time.

Half a cup or 100 grams of cooked lentils provide 9 grams of protein, and 8 grams of fiber. 1 cup of cooked lentils provides 160 mg or 57% of the RDI of tryptophan.

14. Spirulina

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Spirulina is algae that is blue-green in color and is popularly consumed as a supplement. Spirulina is exceptionally nutritious and is linked with many health benefits. It is loaded with a strong plant-based protein called phycocyanin, which is known to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, pain relief, and brain-protective features. Spirulina is rich in iron, vitamin B, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids.

With every 100 grams of spirulina serving you get 929 mg of tryptophan. It is one of the highest plant-based sources of tryptophan. Spirulina's tryptophan content is 3 to 4 times higher than turkey.

15. Cheese

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Tryptophan in cheese has been linked to minimizing stress and helping generate sleep. So next time if you struggle sleeping, grab a small slice of cheese. Cheese rich in this amino acid that may help your sleep are cottage cheese, and solid cheese such as parmesan, cheddar, and mozzarella.

One ounce of cheddar cheese provides 91 mg of tryptophan, whereas a half cup of cottage cheese contains 332 mg or 118% of the RDI of tryptophan. 100 grams of shredded parmesan cheese provides 560 gm of tryptophan. Cheese is a good source of calcium.

16. Hummus

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Hummus is made with ground chickpeas and is rich in protein, vitamin B, and tryptophan. It contains 20 different types of amino acids that help to produce serotonin, a mood-lifting agent. It also contains omega-3 fatty acid which has been proven to treat minor mood disorders such as depression, and anxiety.

Hummus is a great source of fiber and contains gut-supporting bacteria. Hummus contains an inherently-occurring melatonin, that makes it a perfect late-night snack. 100 grams of hummus provides around 19% of the RDI for tryptophan.

17. Dark Chocolate

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Dark chocolates include a plant-based chemical called flavonoids, which may reduce the risk for many health disorders, such as cancer and even heart disease. When we consume chocolate our brain produces chemicals such as serotonin and endorphins, which make us feel happy and cheerful.

The more the concentration of cocoa in dark chocolate, the more it is better for releasing such chemicals. 30 grams of dark chocolate provides 390 mg of tryptophan. 85% cocoa present dark chocolate is considered to be more fruitful in lifting up the mood and regulating sleep in adults.

18. Plantain

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Plantain is similar to bananas but it has slightly different taste and use. They are larger in size, much starchy, and are low in sugar than bananas. Plantains are a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The antioxidants present in them help to fight free radicals. They are also a decent source of vitamin C, which helps in immune functioning.

Cooked plantains retain more nutrients. 100 grams of green plantains provide 350 mg of tryptophan. Therefore, this food also helps in regulating your mood cycle and improving your sleep.

19. Mamey Sapote

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Mamey Sapote is an exotic fruit usually found in Mexico, South America, Central America, and some parts of the Southern United States. This fruit is sometimes compared to apricot or raspberry. This fruit is known by many names such as red mamey, mamey sapote, or simple sapote.

Sapote is high in fiber, antioxidants, beta-carotene, vitamins, and minerals. It is a good source of vitamin C, and an essential nutrient useful for protection against inflammation and cell damage. Consuming 175 grams of Sapote provides 149 mg of tryptophane.

20. Apricots

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Apricot is one of the fruits that is rich in the amino acid tryptophan, which the body transforms to make a happy chemical called serotonin. This brain chemical helps to uplift your mood, create an optimistic feeling, boost self-esteem, and sometimes even control impulsive behavior. Above all, it helps you sleep.

Consuming apricot before late evening may help with your sleep cycle due to the presence of melatonin hormone. Additionally, it has magnesium and potassium which gives a calming effect. 100 grams of raw apricot provides 15 mg of tryptophan.

Role of Tryptophan

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Foods with tryptophan help proper growth in infants and regulate the muscle, protein, enzymes, and neurotransmitters in adults. The body uses this acid to produce melatonin and serotonin. Melatonin is a hormone that alerts the body to wind down and fall asleep. We face trouble sleeping without adequate melatonin.

Tryptophan foods for sleep are milk, nuts, seeds, and red meats. Serotonin is called the ‘happy chemical’ and it is in charge of proper appetite, mood, sleep, and pain regulation.

Tryptophan plays an active role on:

  • Mood
  • Anxiety
  • Knowledge
  • Memory Expertise
  • Visual Understanding

Some FAQs

What foods are high in tryptophan?

Foods high in tryptophan are red meat, soy products, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, and dairy products such as milk, and cheese, and many others.

What foods contain tryptophan?

Foods containing tryptophan include meat products derived from animals, such as fish, pork, beef, and chicken, and nuts, soy, beans, fruits, etc. derived from plants.

What foods have tryptophan?

All foods that are rich in both plant and animal protein have tryptophan. Tryptophan, an amino acid perks up mood and regulates better sleep.

What foods have tryptophan in them?

Milk, Chicken breast, beef steak, firm tofu, edamame, salmon, nuts, seeds, beans and lentils, and many other foods have tryptophan in them.

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