Choline is an essential nutrient that vegans can have trouble getting.
The absolute best sources of choline are animal products (meat, fish, dairy, etc.).
To help fellow vegans out, I compiled a list of the best vegan food sources of choline.
Keep in mind that if you buy any packaged foods like cereal, they may be fortified with choline as well.
Before we get to the list, how much choline do you need a day?
According to the NIH, adult men need 550 mg per day, while adult women, need at least 425 mg.
The Best Vegan Food Sources of Choline
You’ll notice that no one serving of any food will get you past the RDA. You’re going to have to combine multiple foods on a regular basis.
|Food||Serving||Energy (kcal)||Choline (mg)|
|Buckwheat groats||1 cup||567||88.9|
|Swiss chard||10 leafs||91||86.4|
|Navy beans||1 cup||255||81.4|
|Lima beans||1 cup||209||75|
|Brussels sprouts||1 cup||56||63.3|
|Mung bean||1 cup||212||59.4|
|Black beans||1 cup||227||56.1|
|Kidney beans||1 cup||225||54|
|Fava bean||1 cup||187||52|
|Rye grain||1 cup||571||51.4|
|White potato||1 large||255||40.6|
|Sunflower seeds||0.5 cup||409||38.6|
|Pine nuts||0.5 cup||454||37.7|
|Wheat flour (whole-grain)||100 g||332||31.2|
Overall, legumes are amazing sources of choline. Just about every type of bean and lentil is near the top of the list.
There’s also quite a few vegetables like spinach, chard, and brussel sprouts.
Specific types of grain (buckwheat and rye) also have a large amount of choline.
The Most Choline-Rich Vegan Foods per 100 Calories
If you’d like to keep your total caloric intake down, this next list will be more interesting than the one above.
I calculated the amount of choline that you’d get in 100 calories of any of the foods. Often times, this requires more than one serving.
Choline (mg) per 100 calories
|Brussels sprouts||1 cup||56||113.0|
|Swiss chard||10 leafs||91||94.9|
|Lettuce (red leaf)||0.5 head||20||91.0|
|Bok choy||1 cup||9||50.0|
|Green bean||10 beans||17||49.4|
|Lima beans||1 cup||209||35.9|
|Navy beans||1 cup||255||31.9|
|Mung bean||1 cup||212||28.0|
|Fava bean||1 cup||187||27.8|
|Green bell pepper||1 large||33||27.3|
Just about every result on the list is some sort of vegetable.
If you eat a large and diverse set of vegetables every day, you shouldn’t have too much of an issue meeting your RDA with a low amount of total calories. But you will have to eat a lot of them, and that may take some time to get used to.
The Best OVERALL Choline Sources for Vegans
There’s one last way we can look at choline sources, by comparing the amount of choline per serving and per 100 calories at the same time.
Below is a bubble chart that does this. The best sources should rank well on both axis, meaning the very best ones will be close to the top-right of the chart.
Click the chart to see the full-sized version.
In terms of overall balance, brussel sprouts and spinach come the closest and are the best “overall” sources of choline.
Other than that, we see the other foods that topped the 2 main lists we looked at above:
- Swiss chard
- Lima beans
- Navy beans
Stick to these if you’re trying to get the most choline possible, with the least amount of servings and calories.
What is Choline Used For?
While choline technically can be made in the body, it can only be made in very small amounts. The majority of your choline must come from foods.
A significant deficit in choline can lead to liver and muscle damage, and an increase of an amino acid called homocysteine. Homocysteine is associated with heart disease, heart attacks, and more.
In short, it’s pretty important that you get enough choline from your diet on a regular basis.