Top 10 Foods Highest in Phenylalanine

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Top 10 Foods Highest in Phenylalanine

Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid involved in creating brain signaling molecules such as dopamine, norepinephrine (noradrenaline), and epinephrine (adrenaline). (1) Phenylalanine can also be used by the body to make the amino acid tyrosine. (2)

Phenylalanine is used as an ingredient in artificial sweeteners containing aspartame and may have negative health effects if consumed in high amounts. People suffering from Phenylketonuria should limit their intake of phenylalanine. (3)

High phenylalanine foods include beef, chicken, pork, tofu, fish, beans, milk, nuts, seeds, pasta, whole grains, and vegetables like sweet potatoes.

The reference dietary intake (RDI) for phenylalanine and tyrosine is 25mg per kilogram of body weight or 11mg per pound. (4) Assuming a person gets half their requirement from each amino acid, a person can then consume 12.5mg per kg or 5.5mg per pound. As such, a person weighing 70kg (~154 pounds) should consume around 875mg of phenylalanine per day, and this is the amount used to calculate the reference dietary intake (RDI). If you only plan to consume phenylalanine, and no tyrosine, you should double the RDIs.

Below is a list of the top 10 foods highest in phenylalanine, for more high phenylalanine foods see the extended list of phenylalanine rich foods.

List of High Phenylalanine Foods

A steak on a plate1 Beef (Skirt Steak)
per 6oz Steak
per 100g
per 200 Calories
(262% RDI)
(154% RDI)
(115% RDI)

More Red Meats High in Phenylalanine

  • 144% RDI per 3oz of veal roast
  • 141% RDI per 3oz of lamb roast
  • 128% RDI per 3oz beef chuck roast
  • 116% RDI per 3oz buffalo roast
  • 97% RDI per 3oz hamburger

See all meats high in phenylalanine.

A roast chicken2 Lean Chicken Breast
in a 6oz Breast
per 100g
per 200 Calories
(251% RDI)
(148% RDI)
(188% RDI)

More Poultry High in Phenylalanine

  • 282% RDI in a whole chicken leg
  • 240% RDI per 6oz of lean ground turkey
  • 197% RDI per cup of lean chicken breast
  • 157% RDI per cup of roast duck
  • 131% RDI per chicken thigh

See all meats high in phenylalanine.

A pork chop3 Lean Pork Chops
in a 6oz Chop
per 100g
per 200 Calories
(250% RDI)
(147% RDI)
(151% RDI)

More Pork High in Phenylalanine

  • 181% RDI per cup of lean roast ham
  • 137% RDI per 5oz rack of pork ribs
  • 110% RDI per 3oz of roasted wild boar
  • 106% RDI per 3oz pork bratwurst
  • 58% RDI per 3 slices of bacon (~1oz)

See all meats high in phenylalanine.

A block of tofu4 Firm Tofu
per Cup
per 100g
per 200 Calories
(240% RDI)
(95% RDI)
(133% RDI)

More Soy Foods High in Phenylalanine

  • 171% RDI per cup of boiled soybeans (edamame)
  • 169% RDI per cup of tempeh (fermented tofu)
  • 90% RDI per cup of soft tofu
  • 51% RDI per cup of soybean sprouts
  • 31% RDI per cup of soymilk
Tuna Fillet5 Tuna
in a 6oz Fillet
per 100g
per 200 Calories
(227% RDI)
(133% RDI)
(145% RDI)

More Fish High in Phenylalanine

  • 224% RDI per 7oz grouper fillet
  • 211% RDI per 6oz salmon fillet
  • 204% RDI per 6oz tilapia fillet
  • 200% RDI per 6oz snapper fillet
  • 183% RDI per 6.5oz cod fillet

See all fish high in phenylalanine.

Pinto Beans6 Pinto Beans
per Cup
per 100g
per 200 Calories
(104% RDI)
(61% RDI)
(85% RDI)

More Beans High in Phenylalanine

  • 133% RDI per cup of navy beans
  • 108% RDI per cup of white beans
  • 105% RDI per cup of adzuki beans
  • 103% RDI per cup of kidney beans
  • 101% RDI per cup of lentils
  • 94% RDI per cup of black beans

See all beans and lentils high in phenylalanine.

A glass of milk7 Milk
per 16oz Glass
per 100g
per 200 Calories
(98% RDI)
(20% RDI)
(118% RDI)

More Dairy Products High in Phenylalanine

  • 95% RDI per 16oz glass of low-fat milk
  • 91% RDI per 16oz glass of whole milk
  • 88% RDI per cup of yogurt
  • 79% RDI per 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese
  • 62% RDI per oz of grated Parmesan
  • 54% RDI per oz of Swiss cheese

See all dairy products high in phenylalanine.

Squash and Pumpkin Seeds8 Squash and Pumpkin Seeds
per 1oz Handful
per 100g
per 200 Calories
(56% RDI)
(196% RDI)
(68% RDI)

More Nuts and Seeds High in Phenylalanine

  • 47% RDI per oz of hemp seeds
  • 40% RDI per oz of peanuts
  • 37% RDI per oz of sunflower seeds
  • 37% RDI per oz of pistachios
  • 37% RDI per oz of almonds
  • 33% RDI per oz of chia seeds

See all nuts and seeds high in phenylalanine.

Uncooked Spaghetti9 Pasta
per Cup
per 100g
per 200 Calories
(42% RDI)
(34% RDI)
(43% RDI)

More Grains High in Phenylalanine

  • 59% RDI per cup of kamut
  • 58% RDI per cup of teff
  • 40% RDI per cup of whole wheat pasta
  • 39% RDI per cup of quinoa
  • 38% RDI per cup of oatmeal
  • 31% RDI per cup of brown rice

See all grains high in phenylalanine.

Sweet Potatoes10 Sweet Potatoes
per Cup Mashed
per 100g
per 200 Calories
(35% RDI)
(14% RDI)
(27% RDI)

More Vegetables High in Phenylalanine

  • 57% RDI per cup of lima beans
  • 36% RDI per cup of green peas
  • 28% RDI per cup of spinach
  • 25% RDI per cup of sweet corn
  • 23% RDI per cup of Swiss chard
  • 21% RDI per cup of broccoli

See all vegetables high in phenylalanine.

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A printable list of foods high in phenylalanine.

Extended list of Phenylalanine Rich Foods

1 Gelatin Powder (Dry)per oz56% RDI
2 Eggsin 1 large egg38% RDI
3 Toasted Wheat Germper oz38% RDI
4 Avocadosper avocado22% RDI
5 Caviarper tblsp20% RDI
6 Potatoesin a medium potato20% RDI
7 Mamey Sapote1 cup chopped12% RDI
8 Mushroomsper cup cooked11% RDI
9 Dried Coconutper oz11% RDI
10 Shiitake Mushroomsper cup cooked11% RDI
11 Grapefruitper cup10% RDI
12 Kiwifruitper Cup9% RDI
13 Whole Wheat Breadper slice toasted9% RDI
14 Bananasper cup sliced8% RDI
15 Bakers Yeastper tsp8% RDI
16 Equal Artificial Sweetener (Aspartame)per tsp5% RDI

About the Data

Data for the curated food lists comes from the USDA Food Data Central Repository.

You can check our data against the USDA by clicking the (Source) link at the bottom of each food listing.

Note: When checking data please be sure the serving sizes are the same. In the rare case you find any difference, please contact us and we will fix it right away.

About Nutrient Targets

Setting targets can provide a guide to healthy eating.

Some of the most popular targets include:
  • Daily Value (%DV) - The daily value (%DV) is a general guideline for consumption that will prevent deficiency of a particular nutrient in most people. The %DV refers to the percentage of an amount that's found in a single serving of a food. It also accounts for absorption factors. It is set by the U.S. FDA.
  • Recommended Dietary Allowance (%RDA) - The RDA sets an average daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97.5%) healthy individuals. It's more specific than the daily value, and varies by age and gender. The RDA is set by the US National Instutites of Health.
  • Reference Dietary Intake (%RDI) -The reference dietary intake is similar to the recommended daily allowance, but is specific to age and gender. The RDI for amino acids is set by the U.N. World Health Organization.
  • Adequate Intake (%AI) - This value is primarily used in reference to omega-3 and omega-6 fats. The Adequate Intake is set by the U.S. Institute of Medicine. Because there is less evidence to determine the ideal targets for consumption of these nutrients, the specific amount is considered to be less reliable. Using the term Adequate Intake, rather than one of the other terms, helps to emphasize that the ideal intake of that particular nutrient has not yet been scientifically determined.

See the Guide to Recommended Daily Intakes for more information.

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Data Sources and References

  1. Pubchem on Phenylalanine
  2. An Overview of Phenylalanine and Tyrosine Kinetics in Humans. J Nutr. 2007 Jun; 137(6 Suppl 1): 1549S–1575S.
  3. Medline Plus on Phenylketonuria
  4. World Health Organization (WHO) Technical Report Series – Protein And Amino Acid Requirements In Human Nutrition ISBN 978 92 4 120935 9
  5. U.S. Agricultural Research Service Food Data Central
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