Tryptophan is an important essential amino acid that may be harder for you to get on a vegan diet (along with other amino acids like lysine and methionine).
With that said, it’s still not difficult to meet the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) if you’re eating the right kind of foods.
The RDA, which was set by the U.S. Institute of Medicine in 2002 is 5 mg/kg body weight for adults.
For a 170 lb (77 kg) individual, this works out to 385 mg (0.385 grams) per day, which is possible to get in a serving or two of certain foods, as you’ll see below.
Why Tryptophan is Important
In case you need a quick refresher, tryptophan is important mainly because it’s involvement in making brain serotonin.
This leads to effects on mood, behavior, appetite, sleep, memory, and so much more. It’s an amino acid you don’t want to skip out on.
A List of The Best Vegan Tryptophan Food Sources (Per Serving)
After looking at over 120 whole foods listed in the USDA food database, here’s what it looks like when you sort by tryptophan content.
|Food||Tryptophan (g) per 100 grams||Tryptophan (g) per 100 calories|
|Lettuce (red leaf)||0.02||0.17|
|Green bell pepper||0.01||0.06|
|Red bell pepper||0.01||0.05|
Despite not having much protein overall, some grains have a relatively high percentage of tryptophan. Oats, buckwheat, and rye grain are all near the top of the list, just as they are some of the best vegan phenylalanine sources.
After the grains, seeds and beans make up the majority of the top foods. When it comes to just about any amino acid, legumes are always one of the best vegan sources. They should be a staple of most vegan diets, especially if you’re an athlete.
Beans still show up in the middle of this list, which shows how nutritionally dense they are.