If you’re looking for which foods contain the highest concentrated amounts of taurine, then you’ve come to the right place. Taurine plays a critical role in human development and cellular biology and is a potential ergogenic aid and treatment for heart disease, obesity, and other chronic disease states. One of the most important roles taurine plays, however, pertains to the neurological and central nervous system, underpinning the communication for muscle contraction and human movement. We are going to cover what taurine is, its dietary sources, and how it can improve your overall health.
What Is Taurine?
There is a total of 20 amino acids. Of those 20, the human body produces 11, which are classified as non-essential. The other 9 are considered essential, meaning it is essential to obtain these amino acids through diet or supplementation. Yet there are a few amino acids, taurine being one of them, which are considered conditionally essential amino acids.
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Conditionally essential amino acids are called on in times of extreme physical stress, illness or injury. It’s essential to replenish these amino acids during those times, as they will subsequently deplete at a rapid pace. High endurance training will cause a rapid decline in Taurine levels, therefore it's important to replenish Taurine, in order to maintain maximal muscle contraction and release.
Molecularly, Taurine is classified as a beta-amino acid, which simply means that it’s bonded to a different carbon atom, than traditional amino acids.
Taurine plays an integral role in human biology, regulating fundamental cellular events, while altering the balance between life and death. Studies have found, that Taurine is an effective therapeutic agent against congestive heart failure, and has been approved for treatment of congestive heart failure in Japan [R]. Taurine has also shown promising results as a potential aid of several other chronic conditions and diseases such as obesity and diabetes.
Since taurine is naturally produced by our own human bodies, it’s essential to our physical and neurological development. However, those with conditions such as diabetes and obesity may benefit more from Taurine supplementation, due to low concentrations.
Taurine-Rich Foods List
Animal proteins are the most taurine rich foods. The highest amounts of Taurine can be found in shellfish, such as muscles, oysters, scallops, and clams. Taurine is also very concentrated in the dark portions of meat, including chicken, turkey, and pork.
Cooking has no effect on Taurine levels [R] and taurine values from the same food sources are fairly consistent across multiple studies. The average daily intake of taurine for those with a nonrestrictive diet, is between 40-400mg, typically falling on the lower end of the spectrum [R. R]. Keep scrolling to find out what foods have the highest amounts of taurine.
Turkey (Dark Meat)
The dark meat may be the unpopular choice, but if you want more taurine, then that’s what you’ll need to eat. Dark turkey meat is a very taurine rich food, with nearly 300mg per 3.5oz.
Chicken (Dark Meat)
Chicken thighs are a great alternative or way to change up your weekly meal prep. They’ll also provide a higher taurine content, since thigh meat is generally darker in nature.
White fish such as tilapia, cod, and halibut provide an abundance of taurine not to mention protein. These types of fish are great for frying or on the skillet or your next fish taco night.
Mussels are a classic delectable food and an excellent source of iron, b-vitamins, and omega-3s. Low in calories and high in protein, if fancy is your feast, then mussels are what’s for dinner.
388mg per 3.5oz
Extremely protein dense and a rich source of taurine, you can usually find octopus in the frozen food section or fresh at the seafood counter in your local super market it can be a great addition to your salad, or as an entrée.
Scallops are the most taurine dense food on the planet. Not to mention, they are delicious. If you want to change things up, there is nothing better than some tender and rich lemon butter scallops at the dinner table.
Yes, calamari does count. Having a quick appetizer of calamari the next time you go out to dinner, will provide an adequate taurine rich snack.
Taurine Rich Foods: Takeaway
If your goal is to get more taurine in your diet, seafood is your best bet, as it offers a wide variety of options. Even shrimp and tuna have around 50mg per 4oz. Taurine is vital to overall health and wellness especially heart health. Studies show that muscles which are most utilized use the most taurine. Therefore, it’s especially important to include foods that contain taurine in your diet, to ensure protecting against oxidative stress, inflammation and adequate muscle function.
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Stapleton PP, Charles RP, Redmond HP, Bouchier-Hayes DJ Clin Nutr Taurine and human nutrition.1997 Jun; 16(3):103-8.
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Wójcik, Oktawia P et al. “The potential protective effects of taurine on coronary heart disease.” Atherosclerosis vol. 208,1 (2010): 19-25. doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2009.06.002