Top 10 Foods Highest in Phenylalanine

Photo of Daisy Whitbread Written by Daisy Whitbread
BSc (Hons) MSc DipION
Photo of Dr. Patricia Shelton Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Patricia Shelton
Evidence Based. References sourced from PubMed.
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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)

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. (3) 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).

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.

Note: Phenylalanine is an ingredient in artificial sweeteners containing aspartame and may have negative health effects. (4) Asparatame sweeteners should be avoided by people with Phenylketonuria. (4) People suffering from Phenylketonuria should also limit their intake of phenylalanine. (5)

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A printable list of foods high in phenylalanine.

Extended list of Phenylalanine Rich Foods

1. Gelatin Powder (Dry) per oz 56% RDI
2. Eggs in 1 large egg 38% RDI
3. Toasted Wheat Germ per oz 38% RDI
4. Avocados per avocado 22% RDI
5. Caviar per tblsp 20% RDI
6. Potatoes in a medium potato 20% RDI
7. Mamey Sapote 1 cup chopped 12% RDI
8. Mushrooms per cup cooked 11% RDI
9. Dried Coconut per oz 11% RDI
10. Shiitake Mushrooms per cup cooked 11% RDI
11. Grapefruit per cup 10% RDI
12. Kiwifruit per Cup 9% RDI
13. Whole Wheat Bread per slice toasted 9% RDI
14. Bananas per cup sliced 8% RDI
15. Bakers Yeast per tsp 8% RDI
16. Equal Artificial Sweetener (Aspartame) per tsp 5% RDI

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View more nutrients with the nutrient ranking tool, or see ratios with the nutrient ratio tool.

Data Sources and References

  1. Joseph B, Dyer CA. Dopamine precursors and brain function in phenylalanine hydroxylase deficiency J Neurochem. 2003 Aug;86(3):615-26. doi: 10.1046/j.1471-4159.2003.01887.x. 12859675
  2. Rafii M, McKenzie JM, Roberts SA, Steiner G, Ball RO, Pencharz PB. An overview of phenylalanine and tyrosine kinetics in humans Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Feb;294(2):E475-9. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00604.2007. Epub 2007 Nov 27. 18042668
  3. World Health Organization - Protein and Amino Acid Requirements In Human Nutrition
  4. Maher TJ, Wurtman RJ. Aspartame Safety as a Food Sweetener and Related Health Hazards Environ Health Perspect. 1987 Nov;75:53-7. doi: 10.1289/ehp.877553. 3319565
  5. Elhawary NA, AlJahdali IA, Abumansour IS, Elhawary EN, Gaboon N, Dandini M, Madkhali A, Alosaimi W, Alzahrani A, Aljohani F, Melibary EM, Kensara OA. Phenylketonuria Hum Genomics. 2022 Jul 19;16(1):22. doi: 10.1186/s40246-022-00398-9. 35854334
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