Almond Amino Acids: Are Almonds a Complete Protein?


When it comes to plant-based sources of protein, nuts like almonds are pretty good.

I’ve broken down the amino acid profile of almonds just below on this page.

It turns out that they are almost a complete protein, just a bit lacking in lysine, which is common among plant-based proteins.

Essential Amino Acids in Almonds

The table below shows the amount of all amino acids in almonds, straight from the USDA’s nutrition database.

The data is per 100 grams of almonds. For reference, each individual almond is usually 1-2 grams.

Pay the closest attention to the essential amino acids that are marked with an asterisk in the table. Those are the ones that your body cannot synthesize on its own.

Amino Acid Amount (g) Peanut Protein %
Alanine 1.0 4.4
Arginine 2.5 10.9
Aspartic acid 2.6 11.7
Cystine 0.2 1.0
Glutamic acid 6.2 27.5
Glycine 1.4 6.3
Histidine* 0.5 2.4
Isoleucine* 0.8 3.3
Leucine* 1.5 6.5
Lysine* 0.6 2.5
Methionine* 0.2 0.7
Phenylalanine* 1.1 5.0
Proline 1.0 4.3
Serine 0.9 4.0
Threonine* 0.6 2.7
Tryptophan* 0.2 0.9
Tyrosine 0.5 2.0
Valine* 0.9 3.8

In total, almonds have about 21 grams of protein per 100 gram serving.

You can see that they are quite high in a few non-essential amino acids like glutamic acid, aspartic acid, and arginine.

Are Almonds a Complete Protein?

Most people don’t need to be concerned with whether the foods they eat are considered complete proteins or not since they eat a variety of foods each day.

The only time you would need to worry is if you only ate almonds for a day, which I imagine is pretty uncommon.

But for the sake of curiosity, we can compare the percentages of essential amino acids in almonds to the minimum amounts of a complete protein (defined by the WHO).

Amino Acid Complete Protein (min %) Almond Protein (%)
Histidine 1.5 2.4
Isoleucine 3 3.3
Leucine 5.9 6.5
Lysine 4.5 2.5
Methionine+Cysteine 1.6 1.7
Phenylalanine 3 5.0
Threonine 2.3 2.7
Tryptophan 0.6 0.9
Valine 3.9 3.8

Almonds exceed the minimum relative percent of all essential amino acid groups except for lysine.

Technically they fall 0.1% short of valine, but that’s essentially a rounding error, and likely differs even based on the batch of almonds tested. The lysine is an obvious deficiency on the other hand.

Which Other Proteins Pair Best Almonds?

Since almonds are low in lysine, like almost all nuts (to different degrees), you should ideally find other sources of lysine throughout the day as well.

Here are some of the top vegan sources of lysine overall:

  • Seaweed
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Pistachio nuts
  • Vital wheat gluten
  • Chia seeds

Even vegetables have a decent amount of lysine, you just need to eat a lot of them to get a significant quantity of protein.

Even though almonds don’t go with most of those above foods too well, you don’t need to eat them together.

It’s a myth that each meal needs to form a complete source of protein. Your body stores pools of amino acids for use later, so as long as you’re getting lysine from other sources throughout the day, it is unlikely to cause any issues, even for bodybuilders and athletes.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance nutrition writer. I've been vegan for years and try to make life easier for others by sharing what I've learned.