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, 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.
In This Article
Top 15 L-Glutamine Foods You Should Add to Your Diet
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.
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
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.
Grass-fed milk is glutamine-rich and helps promote the production of glutathione, an antioxidant (8).
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.
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.
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 as dessert.
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.
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 nuts 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.
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.
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 strengthen your immunity.
Add them to your salad, sandwich, and wraps. Balance the meal with a lean protein source, healthy fats, and good carbs.
12. Organ Meat
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, with a dash of lime juice, paprika, and a pinch of salt.
13. Bone Broth
Bone broth is super healthy. 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.
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.
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.
Benefits Of Glutamine
There are several health benefits of consuming foods rich in glutamine. They are as stated below:
- Improves the health of the digestive tract by regulating cell division of the intestinal lining (17).
- It assists the body in producing glutathione, which is a potent antioxidant (18).
- It maintains the pH balance in the body (19).
- It helps maintain muscle mass (20).
- It helps in cellular and systemic detoxification (21).
- Promotes healthy neurological function and improves memory and learning (22).
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?
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 disease, IBS, Crohn’s disease, 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.
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 syndrome.
- People with cancer.
- If you are allergic to glutamine-rich foods and exhibit symptoms like nausea, vomiting, hives, and joint pain.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
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 (23).
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.
- Nutritional importance of glutamine, Arquivos de gastroenterologia, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Therapeutic considerations of L-glutamine: a review of the literature, Alternative Medicine Review, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Glutamine as an Immunonutrient, Yonsei Medical Journal, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Age-related glutamate and glutamine concentration changes in normal human brain: 1H MR spectroscopy study at 4 T, Neurobiology of Aging, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Functional amino acids in fish nutrition, health and welfare, Frontiers in Bioscience, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Evaluation of a novel food composition database that includes glutamine and other amino acids derived from gene sequencing data, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Free amino acids of tronchuda cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. Var. costata DC): influence of leaf position (internal or external) and collection time, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Chemical Composition, Nitrogen Fractions and Amino Acids Profile of Milk from Different Animal Species, Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Effects of Egg White Protein Supplementation on Muscle Strength and Serum Free Amino Acid Concentrations, Nutrients, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Effects of Dietary Yogurt on the Healthy Human Gastrointestinal (GI) Microbiome, Microorganisms, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- DL-Glutamine, PubChem, US National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information.
- Chemical composition of nuts and seeds sold in Korea, Nutrition Research and Practice, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Optimization of Glutamine Peptide Production from Soybean Meal and Analysis of Molecular Weight Distribution of Hydrolysates, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Nutritional Composition and Bioactive Content of Legumes: Characterization of Pulses Frequently Consumed in France and Effect of the Cooking Method, Nutrients, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Glutamine: A novel approach to chemotherapy-induced toxicity, Indian Journal of Medical and Paediatric Oncology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Food Products as Sources of Protein and Amino Acids—The Case of Poland, Nutrients, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- The Roles of Glutamine in the Intestine and Its Implication in Intestinal Diseases, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Glutamine drives glutathione synthesis and contributes to radiation sensitivity of A549 and H460 lung cancer cell lines, Biochimica et biophysica acta, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Acid-Base Homeostasis, Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Glutamine: a potentially useful supplement for athletes, Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Glutamine: a Trojan horse in ammonia neurotoxicity, Hepatology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Effects of glutamate and glutamine on learning and memory of rats, Journal of Hygiene Research, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Glutamine supplementation favors weight loss in nondieting obese female patients. A pilot study. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.