Wednesday, January 18, 2012

High Protein Foods and Nuts

Your body uses 20 different amino acids to build new protein molecules. Your cells produce some of these amino acids, while others must be obtained through the foods you eat. Phenylalanine is an important amino acid, but some people lack the enzyme that breaks it down and must modify their diets accordingly. Although all nuts contain some phenylalanine, some have low enough amounts to be considered negligible. Discuss your medical condition with your doctor before eating nuts with phenylalanine.

Phenylalanine Features

Nutritionists consider phenylalanine one of 10 essential amino acids, meaning that your body cannot produce phenylalanine itself and must obtain it from food. Your cells convert phenylalanine into another amino acid called tyrosine, which is an important building block for neurotransmitters and other proteins. Thus, phenylalanine is needed to maintain neurological and psychological functioning.

Dietary Concerns

Some people are born without the ability to produce the enzyme phenylalanine hydroxylase, a condition called phenylketonuria, or PKU. In healthy individuals, phenylalanine hydroxylase breaks down phenylalanine molecules into smaller parts. People with PKU cannot break down phenylalanine, causing dangerous levels of the amino acid to accumulate in the body. Individuals with PKU must avoid eating any foods that contain phenylalanine.

Nuts Without Phenylalanine

Most high-protein foods contain some phenylalanine, because the amino acid is an important part of many protein molecules. Although all nuts have some phenylalanine, some contain very little of the amino acid. According to the website Diet and Fitness Today, cashews, English walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts and chestnuts contain only trace amounts of phenylalanine per 100-gram serving.


Other nuts, including almonds, Brazil nuts, coconut, hazelnuts, peanuts and black walnuts contain relatively high amounts of phenylalanine. According to, people with PKU should avoid eating most high-protein foods, including all types of nuts. Although some nuts contain very little phenylalanine, individuals with PKU are so sensitive to the amino acid that they should not even eat nuts that have trace levels of phenylalanine. People without PKU can usually eat nuts with trace amounts of phenylalanine without suffering ill effects. Talk to your doctor before eating nuts without phenylalanine to determine whether they can be a safe part of your diet.

Read more:

Design by Free Wordpress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Templates