Top 10 Foods Highest in Tryptophan

Top 10 Foods Highest in Tryptophan

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid needed for general growth and development, the production of niacin (vitamin B3), and the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is believed to play an important role in regulating sleep and mood, which is why turkey is sometimes attributed to making people sleepy. The truth, however, is that many other foods contain as much tryptophan as turkey and do not cause drowsiness.

High tryptophan foods include chicken, turkey, red meat, pork, tofu, fish, beans, milk, nuts, seeds, oatmeal, and eggs. The recommended daily intake for tryptophan is 4mg per kilogram of body weight or 1.8mg per pound. Therefore, a person weighing 70kg (~154 pounds) should consume around 280mg of tryptophan per day.

Below is a list of the top 10 foods highest in tryptophan with the %RDI calculated for someone weighting 70kg (154lbs). For more high tryptophan foods see the extended list of tryptophan rich foods.


List of High Tryptophan Foods

A roast chicken

#1: Lean Chicken & Turkey

Tryptophan
in a 6oz Chicken Breast
Tryptophan
per 100g
Tryptophan
per 200 Calories
687mg
(245% RDI)
404mg
(144% RDI)
515mg
(184% RDI)

More Poultry High in Tryptophan

  • 219% RDI (612mg) per 6oz of ground turkey
  • 181% RDI (507mg) per cup of roast chicken
  • 174% RDI (488mg) per 6oz roast turkey breast
  • 164% RDI (458mg) per cup of chopped roast duck
  • 97% RDI (273mg) in 3oz of turkey drumstick
  • 94% RDI (264mg) in a single chicken leg (drumstick)

See all meats high in tryptophan.

A steak on a plate

#2: Beef (Skirt Steak)

Tryptophan
per 6oz Steak
Tryptophan
per 100g
Tryptophan
per 200 Calories
636mg
(227% RDI)
374mg
(134% RDI)
279mg
(100% RDI)

More Lean Red Meat High in Tryptophan

  • 126% RDI (353mg) per 3oz serving of roast lamb
  • 113% RDI (316mg) per 3oz of beef stew (chuck)
  • 64% RDI (180mg) per 3oz buffalo sirloin steak
  • 41% RDI (114mg) per 3oz hamburger patty (97% lean)

See all meats high in tryptophan.

A pork chop

#3: Lean Pork Chops

Tryptophan
in a 6oz Chop
Tryptophan
per 100g
Tryptophan
per 200 Calories
627mg
(224% RDI)
369mg
(132% RDI)
378mg
(135% RDI)

More Pork Products High in Tryptophan

  • 180% RDI (507mg) per cup of diced roast ham
  • 136% RDI (380mg) per rack of pork ribs
  • 115% RDI (323mg) per 3oz of roast boar
  • 105%RDI (295mg) per bratwurst sausage
  • 52%RDI (147mg) in 3 slices of bacon

See all meats high in tryptophan.

A block of tofu

#4: Firm Tofu

Tryptophan
per Cup
Tryptophan
per 100g
Tryptophan
per 200 Calories
592mg
(212% RDI)
235mg
(84% RDI)
326mg
(117% RDI)

More Soy Foods High in Tryptophan

  • 66% RDI (184mg) per 16oz glass of soy milk
  • 40% RDI (111mg) per cup of sprouted soybeans
  • 115% RDI (322mg) per cup of tempeh
Salmon

#5: Fish (Salmon)

Tryptophan
per 6oz Fillet
Tryptophan
per 100g
Tryptophan
per 200 Calories
570mg
(203% RDI)
335mg
(120% RDI)
429mg
(153% RDI)

More Fish High in Tryptophan

  • 203% RDI (570mg) per 6oz tuna fillet
  • 179% RDI (500mg) per 6oz snapper fillet
  • 165% RDI (461mg) per 6oz cod fillet
  • 161% RDI (451mg) per 6oz tilapia fillet
  • 151% RDI (423mg) per 6oz mahi mahi fillet

See all fish high in tryptophan.

Soy Beans

#6: Boiled Soybeans (Edamame)

Tryptophan
per Cup
Tryptophan
per 100g
Tryptophan
per 200 Calories
416mg
(149% RDI)
242mg
(86% RDI)
281mg
(100% RDI)

More Cooked Legumes High in Tryptophan

  • 74% RDI (206mg) per cup of large white beans
  • 71% RDI (198mg) per cup of red kidney beans
  • 66% RDI (185mg) per cup of pinto beans
  • 65% RDI (181mg) per cup of black beans
  • 57% RDI (160mg) per cup of lentils

See all beans high in tryptophan.

A glass of milk

#7: Milk

Tryptophan
per 16oz Glass
Tryptophan
per 100g
Tryptophan
per 200 Calories
211mg
(75% RDI)
43mg
(15% RDI)
253mg
(90% RDI)

More Dairy Products High in Tryptophan

  • 59% RDI (166mg) in 1/4cup of Cottage Cheese
  • 56% RDI (156mg) per oz of hard mozzarella
  • 55% RDI (155mg) per oz of cheddar cheese
  • 49% RDI (137mg) per oz of parmesan
  • 43% RDI (120mg) per oz of gruyere
  • 26% RDI (74mg) per 8oz cup of yogurt

See all dairy products high in tryptophan.

Squash and Pumpkin Seeds

#8: Squash and Pumpkin Seeds

Tryptophan
per 1oz Handful
Tryptophan
per 100g
Tryptophan
per 200 Calories
164mg
(58% RDI)
576mg
(206% RDI)
206mg
(74% RDI)

More Nuts and Seeds High in Tryptophan

  • 44% RDI (124mg) per oz of chia seeds
  • 30% RDI (84mg) per oz of flax seeds
  • 27% RDI (75mg) per oz of cashews
  • 27% RDI (74mg) per oz of pistachios
  • 23% RDI (65mg) per oz of peanuts

See all nuts and seeds high in tryptophan.

A bowl of oatmeal with blueberries

#9: Oatmeal

Tryptophan
per Cup
Tryptophan
per 100g
Tryptophan
per 200 Calories
94mg
(33% RDI)
40mg
(14% RDI)
113mg
(40% RDI)

More Cooked Whole Grains High in Tryptophan

  • 37% RDI (103mg) per cup of teff
  • 34% RDI (96mg) per cup of quinoa
  • 32% RDI (90mg) per cup of whole wheat pasta
  • 21% RDI (59mg) per cup of brown rice
  • 8% RDI (23mg) per cup of corn meal

See all grains high in tryptophan.

Eggs

#10: Eggs

Tryptophan
in 1 Large Egg
Tryptophan
per 100g
Tryptophan
per 200 Calories
77mg
(27% RDI)
153mg
(55% RDI)
197mg
(71% RDI)
  • 109% RDI (306mg) per cup of scrambled eggs
  • 15% RDI (41mg) in an egg white

Printable One Page Sheet

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List of high tryptophan foods in a one page printable list.

Extended list of Tryptophan Rich Foods

FoodServingTryptophan
#1 Canned Sardines
(Source)
per cup147% RDI
(411mg)
#2 Lobster
(Source)
per 3oz112% RDI
(313mg)
#3 Snow Crab (Queen Crab)
(Source)
per 3oz100% RDI
(281mg)
#4 Oysters
(Source)
per 3oz64% RDI
(180mg)
#5 Sweet Italian Sausage
(Source)
per 3oz link33% RDI
(93mg)
#6 Sweet Potatoes
(Source)
per cup mashed33% RDI
(92mg)
#7 Bulgur
(Source)
per cup cooked31% RDI
(87mg)
#8 Mamey Sapote
(Source)
per cup pieces31% RDI
(86mg)
#9 Liverwurst Spread
(Source)
per 1/4 cup30% RDI
(83mg)
#10 Soba Noodles (Buckwheat)
(Source)
per cup cooked29% RDI
(82mg)
#11 Couscous
(Source)
per cup cooked27% RDI
(77mg)
#12 Smooth Peanut Butter
(Source)
in 2 tblsp26% RDI
(74mg)
#13 Spinach
(Source)
per cup cooked26% RDI
(72mg)
#14 Green Peas
(Source)
per cup cooked21% RDI
(59mg)
#15 Portobellos
(Source)
per cup sliced20% RDI
(57mg)
#16 Broccoli
(Source)
per cup cooked (chopped)19% RDI
(53mg)
#17 Avocados
(Source)
per avocado18% RDI
(50mg)
#18 Guavas
(Source)
per cup13% RDI
(36mg)
#19 Turnip Greens
(Source)
per cup cooked10% RDI
(29mg)
#20 Cocoa Powder
(Source)
per tblsp6% RDI
(16mg)

Tryptophan and Thyroid Function

Does tryptophan inhibit thyroid function? This preliminary study concludes: "...our findings indicate that the inhibition of the in vitro peroxidase activity of some amino acids may be produced by their interaction with the oxidized form of iodide and/or with the iodide site on the TPO molecule. Further studies are needed to define a possible physiological role for amino acids in thyroid gland regulation."

The study particularly notes that cystine, methionine, and tryptophan may affect thyroid function. That said, this study was done in vitro with tissue samples and did not measure the effect of amino acids on thyroid function in living animals or people. This means there is a long way to go to establish more of a link between amino acids and thyroid function.

If you are looking to restrict tryptophan in your diet, you can use the nutrient ranking tool to see a list of foods low in tryptophan.

You can also use the amino acid calculator to see the total amino acids in any meal.

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Data Sources and References

  1. U.S. Agricultural Research Service Food Data Central

MyFoodData provides nutrition data tools and articles to help you organize and understand the foods you eat. Read more...