Food For Thought
What are amino acids and where can you find them?

By: Leanne Ely

When I publish articles about the health benefits of different foods, I often mention amino acids.

For anyone not in the know, amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. There are roughly 500 amino acids that we know about, but all proteins are formed from 20 of those.

Amino acids are required for just about every function your body performs, from building muscle to balancing your moods. Amino acids, however, aren’t stored by your body so they eventually will deteriorate and will need to be replaced. The body is able to make some of its own amino acids, but the ones it can’t make-called essential amino acids-have to be taken into the body through the intake of food.Meat

Because they are so vital to human life, a deficiency in amino acids can lead to a variety of health problems.

For instance, lysine is an amino acid that helps with the absorption of calcium in your body. Lysine is responsible for a whole bunch of other goings-on in your body, in addition to absorbing calcium. Lysine helps turn fat into energy for starters. Lysine also makes collagen, which is needed for building tendons, skin and cartilage. Without enough lysine, you may find yourself dizzy, anemic, nauseous and lacking in appetite.

Isoleucine is another amino acid. It increases endurance, helps regulate blood pressure and it also helps our muscles recover after we work them hard.

Tryptophan is the amino acid that helps regulate our moods.

Amino acids keep us mentally sharp, alert and energetic. They protect us against free radical damage, angina, influenza and other diseases.

So, what foods should you eat to get all those essential amino acids into you?

The foods we associate with being high in protein are also, conveniently, high in amino acids.

Get all those amino acids in with foods like:

• Fish
Eggs
Poultry
• Red meat
• Cheese
• Beans
• Plants
• Yeast
• Nuts
• Greek yogurt
• Lentils
• Peas

What’s your favorite source of protein? http://www.facebook.com/savingdinner

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