Top 16 Glutamine-Rich Foods You Should Add To Your Diet

Give your system proper nutrition in the form of essential amino acids for its functioning.

Medically reviewed by Nathan Diaz, MS, RDN, LD Nathan Diaz Nathan DiazMS, RDN, LD twitter_iconinsta_icon
Written by , MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist Charushila Biswas MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist linkedin_icon Experience: 6 years
Edited by , BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Arshiya Syeda BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma linkedin_icon Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , BEd, MSc (Microbiology), Diploma In Nutrition Aparna Mallampalli BEd, MSc (Microbiology), Diploma In Nutrition linkedin_icon Experience: 5 years

The first question that comes to mind is- what is glutamine? Glutamine, also known as L-glutamine, is a non-essential amino acid. It is also the most abundant amino acid (1). This amino acid has many benefits, and you can reap them by including glutamine-rich foods in your diet. Such foods may help prevent muscle loss, improve immunity, speed up muscle recovery, promote muscle growth, and enhance digestion (2), (3).

But an increase in age or severe illness, a strenuous exercise regime, or flesh wounds can cause the levels of L-glutamine to gradually decrease (3), (4). Hence, taking foods rich in this amino acid will greatly help combat this loss. Continue reading to learn more about these foods.

Top 16 L-Glutamine Foods You Should Add to Your Diet

1. Seafood

Seafood, such as fish, mussels, shrimps, and crabs, are excellent sources of glutamine. Seawater fish contain more glutamine content than freshwater fish (5). You can steam, grill, or add them to soups and salads. Make sure not to overcook them as they lose texture and food value.

protip_icon Quick Tip
A great way to cook seafood so that they don’t get overcooked and lose nutrients is to smoke them.

2. Grass-fed Meat

Meat is an excellent source of protein. Chicken, lamb, and beef are great sources of glutamine, and you can include any one of these in your lunch or dinner (6). However, be careful with the amount of red meat you consume if you are obese or have a heart problem or high blood pressure.

Consume 3 oz of chicken breast (3.7 g glutamine) and/or 3 oz of lean cuts of beef (3.2 g – 4 g glutamine). Avoid consuming charred meat and have green leafy veggies with meat to balance the diet.

3. Red Cabbage

Woman making red cabbage salad
Image: Shutterstock

Red cabbage is a glutamine-rich vegetable (7). It helps build immunity and boosts your overall health.

Include it in salads, sandwiches, and wraps because cooking it destroys its glutamine content. You can also consider juicing or fermenting it.

4. Milk

Grass-fed milk is glutamine-rich and helps promote the production of glutathione, an antioxidant (8).

In a study with 1,000 adult U.S. citizens, perceptions of milk and its effects on health were compared. According to the data, the majority of survey participants (61%, or roughly 610) believe that drinking milk is beneficial, while only a small portion (11%) think it is harmful and a further portion (15%) believe it has no effect. A small percentage of respondents (14%) are unsure of how moderate milk consumption affects health.

Consume milk in the morning with breakfast without any added sugar to replenish the depleted levels of glutamine in your body. It will also strengthen your bones in the process.

5. Eggs

Eggs are also good sources of glutamine (9). A hundred grams of eggs contains 0.6 grams of glutamine.

Depending on your daily requirement, you may consume eggs for breakfast or lunch to provide your body with the required amount of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Have boiled, fried, or poached eggs or omelets to add taste and variety to your meal.

6. Yogurt

Woman having yogurt to follow glutamine rich diet plan
Image: Shutterstock

Another beneficial dairy product, yogurt has many health benefits, such as improving gut bacteria count and enhancing digestion (10). Include it in your diet if you are looking for a dietary source of glutamine. Make sure that the yogurt you consume is from grass-fed milk.

It is best to make a bowl of yogurt at home and store in the fridge instead of consuming the one available on the market that has low glutamine content. Add it to your salad instead of mayonnaise, have it as a snack, or have it with fruits like berries as dessert. You can also add apples or bananas as they have glutamine too.

7. Ricotta Cheese

Ricotta cheese is obtained by adding citric acid or lime juice to milk, which leads to precipitation of the milk protein. Like grass-fed milk, grass-fed ricotta cheese is a good source of glutamine (11).

You can have it for breakfast by adding a little salt and pepper to it. Add a little sugar if you are not worried about weight gain. Add it to salads, sandwiches, and wraps to make your lunch extra special.

8. Nuts

Nuts are rich sources of healthy fats and protein. Glutamine, an amino acid, is also present abundantly in nuts (12). It is easy to overeat these small pockets of joy, and hence, you must watch how many nuts you consume.

Add these nutritional seeds to your morning homemade protein shake, breakfast bowl, salad, flavored rice, etc. Have almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, peanuts, and walnuts without toasting to keep the nutritional value intact.

9. Beans

Woman holding kidney beans for glutamine rich diet
Image: Shutterstock

Soybeans and kidney beans are excellent sources of glutamine (13), (14). If you are a vegetarian or vegan and cannot have animal sources of glutamine, consume beans. Consuming beans can also help accelerate the recovery process of an injury.

Have boiled beans with veggies and a lean protein source, such as mushroom or chicken breast, to have a balanced healthy diet.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Beans are a great addition to soups as they add flavor and nutrition. You can also cook beans with rice or make a healthy dip by blending beans with some garlic and other herbs and spices to eat with raw vegetables and other snacks.

10. Parsley

Parsley is a well-loved herb that is used to add taste and flavor to various dishes like quiche and soups. Apart from being a good source of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber, parsley is also rich in glutamine (11).

Add it to your sandwich, stuffed flatbread, hot dog, stuffed chicken, grilled fish, mushroom, or vegetable soup.

11. Dark Leafy Greens

Dark leafy greens, such as spinach, collard greens, kale, lettuce, radish greens, and cilantro, are good sources of glutamine (15). If you work out regularly, get less rest, and feel fatigued all the time, including these leafy greens in your diet will improve your health and support your immune system.

Add them to your salad, sandwich, and wraps. Balance the meal with a lean protein source, healthy fats, and good carbs.

12. Organ Meat

Woman cooking chicken liver
Image: Shutterstock

Organ meat, like liver, is a good source of glutamine (16). If your body needs to replenish the glutamine levels due to illness or muscle loss due to a flesh wound, including animal liver in your diet can help in speeding up the process.

Grill the liver and season it well. Have it with dark leafy greens, boiled beans, a dash of lime juice, paprika, and a pinch of salt.

13. Bone Broth

Bone broth is super healthy and can provide instant energy. If you have been falling ill regularly and feel your immunity needs a boost, consume the glutamine-rich bone broth.

Prepare it at home by adding beef bones, other veggies, seasoning, and 2-3 cups of water to a soup pot. Cover the lid and slow cook for 60 minutes. Have it with flatbread or garlic bread.

14. Asparagus

Both white and green asparagus are good sources of glutamine and can be used to prevent muscle loss or speed up the recuperation time.

Blanch, grill, or add it to your soup. Have it along with dark leafy greens, other veggies, and a lean protein source to make the meal healthy.

15. Legumes

Legumes, such as chickpeas, peas, lentils, and beans, are good sources of glutamine (14). They are great for vegetarians and vegans as people who fall in these two categories are deprived of different amino acids that can be sourced from animal meat.

Have legumes in soups or make dips, savory pancakes, add in wraps, or make a curry to include them in your daily diet.

These are the best glutamine-rich foods that you can include in your diet to enhance muscle tone, prevent muscle loss, strengthen the bones, and improve immunity. Let us now look at the benefits of consuming glutamine-rich organic foods.

16. Nori Seaweed

Nori seaweed, a popular ingredient in sushi and various Asian dishes, is not only delicious but also nutritionally valuable due to its high glutamine content (17). It stands out as a rich plant-based source of glutamine that aids tissue repair, enhances immune response, and promotes gut health. It is also rich in iodine content, essential for thyroid health. Additionally, it contains significant amounts of vitamin B12 and minerals such as iron and calcium, promoting overall well-being (18).

Including nori seaweed in your diet not only delights the taste buds but also contributes to your overall health and vitality thanks to its glutamine content. So try to include it by using it as a sushi wrap or for snacking on roasted nori sheets. You can also crumble it into salads or soups for a savory flavor and a boost of glutamine.

Benefits Of Glutamine

Consuming foods rich in L-glutamine benefits your health in several ways. Valeria Dolbel, Certified Nutritionist, says, “A significant supply of glutamine makes it easier for the brain to provide neurotransmitter balance by producing glutamate, which is required for alertness, memory, and learning. It also helps prevent brain aging.” Keep scrolling for the other benefits.

  • Improves the health of the digestive tract by regulating cell division of the intestinal lining (19).
  • It assists the body in producing glutathione, which is a potent antioxidant (20).
  • It maintains the pH balance in the body (21).
  • It helps maintain muscle mass (22).
  • It helps in cellular and systemic detoxification (23).
  • Promotes healthy neurological function and improves memory and learning (24).

It is clear from the list above that glutamine-rich foods are essential for overall health. The next question is, when should you consciously choose to eat glutamine-rich foods or who should consume glutamine-rich foods?

Who Should Consume Glutamine-Rich Foods?

Woman doing intense workout can eat glutamine rich food
Image: Shutterstock

You should include these foods in your daily diet if you:

  • have severe burns.
  • perform high-intensity exercises.
  • experience frequent bouts of colds and flu.
  • have celiac diseasei  A genetic autoimmune disorder that triggers the body to overreact to food items with gluten, causing bloating and diarrhea. , IBSi  A common disorder affecting the stomach and intestines and causes symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal pain. , Crohn’s diseasei  A chronic bowel disease that causes the digestive tract to become swollen, resulting in abdominal pain and fatigue. , or ulcerative colitis.
  • have lost muscle mass due to a weight loss program.
  • have lost muscle mass due to a flesh wound.
  • are losing muscle due to cancer or AIDS.

Note: These points are mentioned keeping in mind the various benefits of glutamine.

Claudia Vidor, a blogger, reflects on her postpartum experience, acknowledging that she initially didn’t prioritize proper nutrition, rest, and mental well-being in the two months after giving birth. In her blog post, she highlights the importance of consuming foods rich in glutamine, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and immune-boosting nutrients. She writes, “Many foods such as egg and soy contain glutamine, but I find that bone broth is the easiest way to introduce it thanks to its versatility (i).”

When To Avoid  Foods High In Glutamine?

Although there’s no restriction on who can consume glutamine-rich foods, certain health conditions do not allow it. Avoid foods high in glutamine under the following circumstances:

  • If you have kidney or liver disease.
  • If you have Reye’s syndromei  A rare metabolic disorder that causes swelling in the liver and brain and is seen in people recovering from a viral infection. .
  • People with cancer.
  • If you are allergic to glutamine-rich foods and exhibit symptoms like nausea, vomiting, hives, and joint pain.

Infographic: 7 Glutamine-Rich Foods You Should Eat

Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid that plays a key role in several bodily functions. Factors like an intense exercise regimen or severe illness can cause glutamine levels to drop. That is why it is important to eat foods rich in glutamine to help maintain muscle mass.

We have rounded up a list of 7 glutamine-rich foods you should add to your diet. Check out the infographic below to know more!

7 glutamine-rich foods you should eat (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Including glutamine-rich foods in your diet helps promote health. Foods like red cabbage, seafood, grass-fed meat, eggs, legumes, milk, yogurt, nuts, ricotta cheese, beans, parsley, dark leafy greens, and organ meat can promote glutamine levels in the body. Therefore, people with muscle loss, celiac disease, or severe burns should consume these foods to recover easily. However, people with liver or kidney disease, ryes syndrome, cancer, or those allergic to glutamine must avoid these foods. A few other glutamine-rich foods that you can add to your diet are quinoa, broccoli, avocado, and oranges.

Frequently Asked Questions

What cancers feed on glutamine?

Valeria Dolbel says, “Glutamine is the most abundant free amino acid in the human body, responsible for the growth of neoplastic cells and the culture of most cell types. The role of glutamine in cancer requires host and glutamine metabolism, circulation, and transport. Brain cancer and leukemia are common cancers that change how glutamine products are in a cell.”

What are the symptoms of glutamine deficiency?

According to Valeria Dolbel, “The symptoms of glutamine deficiency mainly include increased susceptibility to infection causes, frequent colds and flu, intestinal dysbiosis, and weight loss.”

When should I take glutamine, in the morning or at night?

“As an expert, I recommend taking glutamine supplementation right before bedtime. It enhances growth hormone levels while sleeping. In addition, it has a calming effect and counteracts signs of stress, making you feel relaxed.” says Dolbel.

What are the negative effects of glutamine?

An allergic reaction to glutamine-rich foods may cause nausea, vomiting, hives, and joint pain.

Does L-glutamine help you lose weight?

A pilot study confirms that glutamine aids weight loss and reduces waist circumference by increasing insulin sensitivity and improving glucose metabolism (25).

Does L-glutamine help with sugar cravings?

Glutamine-rich foods may help reduce sugar cravings by increasing satiety and improving insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism.

Are eggs high in glutamate?

Yes, eggs are high in glutamate.

When should I take glutamine?

Consume glutamine-rich foods or glutamine supplements after talking to your doctor if you workout regularly and/or are recovering from a flesh wound or a serious illness.

Do oats contain glutamine?

Amongst grains, oats contain a comparatively high amount of glutamine (1.63 grams per serving) (26).

Does rice have glutamine?

Rice is relatively low in glutamine, with 0.3 g of glutamine per 100 g of rice.

How do you test for low glutamine?

You need to undergo a blood serum test to learn about your body’s low glutamine levels.

Does cooking destroy glutamine?

Yes, cooking destroys glutamine, particularly in vegetables.

Key Takeaways

  • Red cabbage, nuts, beans, yogurt, and eggs are a few sources of glutamine.
  • Moderate consumption of glutamine helps maintain muscle mass and improves memory.
  • Consuming glutamine is beneficial for individuals who engage in high-intensity workouts or get the flu frequently.
  • Individuals with kidney disease Reye’s syndrome should avoid glutamine-rich foods.
  • These glutamine-rich foods can support brain function as well.
glutamine rich foods_illustration

Image: Dall·E/StyleCraze Design Team


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

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Nathan Diaz

Nathan DiazMS, RDN, LD

Nathan is a clinical dietitian with 6 years of experience and seeks to improve the health of people through nutrition therapy. He graduated from Florida International University and received his Master's degree in Dietetics and Nutrition. After doing a 6-month internship with the University of Florida’s sport nutrition team, Nate found that his strengths and desires within the nutrition full bio

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