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- Essential amino acids are amino acids that are the building blocks of protein that our body can’t produce by itself. In other words, if we don’t eat them, we won’t get enough of them. Steak, beef, chicken, eggs, pork, fish and milk are not recommended sources of essential amino acids because of the negative effects, and the uric acid they produce in the body, which is destructive to cells; plants have all the essential amino acids our bodies need.
- Leucine is one of the best essential amino acids for stimulating muscle strength and growth, and also referred to as a BCAA (brand-chain amino acid). Leucine helps regulate your blood sugar by moderating insulin into the body during and after exercise and can even help prevent and treat depression by the way it acts on neurotransmitters in the brain.
- Good plant-based sources include: seaweed, whole grain rice, sesame seeds, watercress, turnip greens, garbanzo beans, figs, avocados, raisins, dates, apples, blueberries, olives and even bananas. Don’t limit yourself to one food of these choices, and aim for a serving of either seaweed, leafy greens, hemp seeds, whole grains, or garbanzo beans at each meal to be sure you get enough high-quality plant-protein.
- Isoleucine is another BCAA similar to leucine, however with a few different responsibilities. It is an isolated form of leucine that specifically helps the body produce energy and hemoglobin. It’s also vital assisting in nitrogen growth within the muscle cells, especially in children.
- Plant-based sources include: rye, garbanzo beans, wild rice, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, elderberries, quinoa, blueberries, apples.
- Lysine is responsible for proper growth and in the production of carnitine (a nutrient responsible for converting fatty acids into fuel to lower cholesterol). It also helps the body absorb calcium for even further bone strength and also aids in collagen production. It’s vital to get enough of this amino acid since deficiency can lead to nausea, depression, fatigue, muscle depletion and even osteoporosis.
- Good plant-based sources of lysine include: garbanzo beans (the best), watercress, hemp seeds, avocados,
- Methionine helps form cartilage in the body through the use of sulfur. Sulfur is a mineral essential to the production of bone cartilage and no other amino acids contain sulfur aside from methionine. People who don’t eat enough sulfur-containing foods to produce methionine in the body may suffer arthritis, damaged tissue, and poor healing. Methionine also aids in the production of muscle growth and formation of creative, needed for optimal cellular energy.
- Good plant-based sources of sulfur include: hemp seeds, Brazil nuts, seaweed, spelt, figs, whole grain, wild rice, garbanzo beans, onions, and raisins.
- Phenylalanine: This amino acid comes in three forms: L-phenylalanine (a natural form found in protein) and D-phenylalanine (a form produced by a laboratory), and DL phenylalanine (a combination of both forms). Always eat food-based sources before choosing supplements or enriched food products with a lab-derived version of this amino acid. Phenylalanine is important in the body because it turns into tyrosine once ingested, which is another amino acid that’s needed to make proteins, brain chemicals, and thyroid hormones. Not obtaining enough of this amino acid can result in brain fog, lack of energy, depression, lack of appetite, or memory problems.
- Good sources include: seaweed, winter squash, garbanzo beans, wild rice, avocado, walnuts, brazil nuts, quinoa, figs, raisins, leafy greens, most berries, olives, and seeds.
- Threonine supports a healthy immune system, heart, liver, and central nervous system health. It also helps maintain a balance of proteins within the body to assist in overall repair, energy, and growth. This amino acid also helps the body’s connective tissues and joints in good health by producing glycine and serine in the body, two essential amino acids needed for healthy bones, skin, hair, and nails. In the liver it helps with fatty acid digestion to prevent fatty acid build-up and liver failure.
- The highest sources of this amino acid is: watercress (which even exceed meat), leafy greens, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and Tahini, avocados, figs, raisins, quinoa, and spelt. Sprouted grains are also excellent sources of this amino acid as well.
- Tryptophan is vital to a healthy nervous system and brain health, along with sleep, muscle growth and repair, and overall neurotransmitter function.
- Plant-based sources that include high amounts of tryptophan include: kamut grains, seaweed, hemp seeds, watercress, mushrooms, all lettuces, leafy greens, beans, avocado, figs, winter squash, anise, peppers, chickpeas, onions, apples, oranges, bananas, quinoa.
- Valine is another BCAA needed for optimal muscle growth and repair. It’s also responsible for endurance and the overall maintenance of good muscle health.
- High sources of valine include: Garbanzo beans, callaloo, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, whole grains, figs, avocado, apples, sprouted grains and seeds, blueberries, cranberries, oranges. Good plant-based sources of histidine include: wild rice, spelt, rye, seaweed, garbanzo beans, cantaloupe, hemp seeds, burro bananas