Methionine is an essential amino, and arguably the toughest one to get on a vegan diet other than lysine.
It’s important for protein synthesis, but also liver function.
With a methionine deficiency, you’re at risk for:
- Abnormal liver function, leading to upregulated proinflammatory genes
- Hair loss
- Poor skin tone
- Neural tube defects (for pregnant women).
To avoid any risk, you’ll want to meet the RDA for methionine of 14 mg per kg of bodyweight per day.
For someone weighing 70 kg (154 lbs), that’s about 1.1 grams per day.
It’s not that hard if you eat the right foods.
The Best Overall Plant-Based Sources of Methionine
We’ll look at lists of the best vegan sources of leucine per serving and per 100 calories in just a minute.
But first, I wanted to identify the most efficient sources of methionine. By efficient, I mean that a food has a lot of methionine per 100 calories, and per serving.
So, I created the bubble chart below (click to expand). The most efficient sources tend towards the top and right of the chart.
There’s a whole cluster of beans and a few other foods near the bottom left. Those are okay sources of methionine, but not the very best.
If you’re looking to realistically get methionine as easily as possible, focus on the 6 foods that stand out from the pack:
- Brazil nuts (most efficient by far)
- Hemp seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Sunflower seeds
The Best Vegan Sources of Methionine Per Serving
I pulled all this data straight from the USDA food database.
It’s all per serving, which makes it a lot more realistic (1.5 servings of brazil nuts, versus 25 cups of water spinach).
|Food||Serving||Energy (kcal)||Methionine (g)|
|Brazil nut||0.5 cup||438||0.747|
|Sesame seeds||0.5 cup||413||0.422|
|Sunflower seeds||0.5 cup||409||0.346|
|Hemp seeds||3 tbsp||166||0.28|
|Pumpkin seeds||1 cup||285||0.267|
|Rye grain||1 cup||571||0.259|
|Buckwheat groats||1 cup||567||0.251|
|Kidney beans||1 cup||225||0.23|
|Black beans||1 cup||227||0.229|
|Pistachio nuts||0.5 cup||344||0.221|
|Navy beans||1 cup||255||0.202|
|Adzuki beans||1 cup||294||0.182|
|Chia seeds||3 tbsp||146||0.176|
|Pine nuts||0.5 cup||454||0.175|
|Mung bean||1 cup||212||0.17|
|Lima beans||1 cup||209||0.116|
|Fava bean||1 cup||187||0.105|
|White potato||1 large||255||0.096|
Three types of foods dominate the top results:
- Nuts/seeds – Brazil nuts are the #1 source of methionine, but lots of seeds are close behind (pumpkin, sesame, hemp).
- Beans – All common types of beans have a decent amount of methionine in them (kidney, black, navy, adzuki, mung).
- Grains – Certain grains, like oats, rye, and quinoa all have a good amount of methionine.
The Top Methionine Vegan Foods Per 100 Calories
If you’re watching calories, you probably want to limit your intake of calorie-dense foods like nuts and seeds.
In order to get enough methionine, focus on the foods below instead, which are ranked by grams of methionine per 100 calories.
**Note that in many cases, you’ll have to eat multiple servings to get to 100 calories.
Methionine (g) per 100 Calories
|Seaweed (dried)||1 tbsp||20||0.40|
|Water spinach||1 cup||11||0.23|
|Brazil nut||0.5 cup||438||0.17|
|Hemp seeds||3 tbsp||166||0.17|
|Bamboo shoot||1 shoot||17||0.14|
|Lettuce (red leaf)||0.5 head||20||0.13|
|Chia seeds||3 tbsp||146||0.12|
|Turnip greens||1 cup||18||0.11|
|Kidney beans||1 cup||225||0.10|
|Sesame seeds||0.5 cup||413||0.10|
|Black beans||1 cup||227||0.10|
|Swiss chard||10 leafs||91||0.10|
|Pumpkin seeds||1 cup||285||0.09|
|Sunflower seeds||0.5 cup||490||0.084|
|Mung bean||1 cup||212||0.08|
|Navy beans||1 cup||255||0.08|
The nuts, seeds, and beans still rank okay on this list, as they have a ton of methionine, but a few other foods rise to the top.
In particular, vegetables like seaweed, spinach, broccoli, and squash all give you a good amount of methionine, and very few calories. The catch is that you’ll have to each multiple servings of them to reach your RDA.