Animal products, such as meat, dairy and eggs, as well as plant-based foods, such as soybeans, nuts, quinoa and buckwheat, all contain amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and are an essential daily nutrient.
The human body produces many amino acids on its own; however, of more than 20 known types of amino acids, there are nine that the body does not produce. These amino acids must be obtained through food. Some foods, such as meat, fish and dairy, contain all 9 of these essential amino acids and are considered complete proteins.
Amino acids are found in many different grains, nuts and legumes. Quinoa, buckwheat, hemp seed, lentils and cashews all contain a few different amino acids. They can also be found in avocado, blueberries, figs and apples. While these foods are not complete proteins on their own, eating them together or on the same day allows the body to acquire complete proteins by combining the different amino acids.
Quick meals, such as rice and beans or peanut butter on whole grain toast, provide complete proteins because all 9 essential amino acids are present in the dish. More foods containing amino acids are mushrooms, squash, peas, Brazil nuts and leafy greens.