What Is Phenylalanine & What Foods Can I Find It In?

3D-model of Phenylalanine (src)

Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid. Phenylalanine is the starting compound used in the synthesis of flavonoids in plants.

Essential means that the body cannot synthesize it, and therefore must be ingested through our diet.

Table of Contents

Phenylalanine Is Essential

Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid in humans. Phenylalanine is important in the biosynthesis of other amino acids.

It works with the structure and function of many proteins and enzymes. (source )

Phenylalanine is highly concentrated in the brain and plasma. (source )

You can find benefits of phenylalanine in Phenylalanine: 4 Research-Backed Benefits .

Phenylalanine Is An Important Precursor

Phenylalanine is a precursor in the synthesis of tyrosine, which is a precursor in the synthesis of various neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, noradrenaline, adrenaline, serotonin, and melatonin.

It is also an important precursor in the synthesis of many other compounds including hormones, proteins, neurotransmitters, and some vitamins such as folate.

Phenylalanine And Aspartame

You can find phenylalanine in products with the artificial sweetener, aspartame.

The ingredients of aspartame are phenylalanine and aspartic acid. Both are naturally occurring amino acids.

Aspartame is an intense, low-calorie, artificial sweetener. It is about 200 times sweeter than sucrose.

Aspartame should be avoided by pregnant women and people that have phenylketonuria. (source )

Foods You Can Find Phenylalanine In

You find phenylalanine mostly in dairy and eggs, legumes, american indian and alaska native food, nut and seed products.

Examples of food sources include

Foods in our nutrition tool

You can find regularly updated, top ranked lists of foods for over 200+ nutrients in our nutrition tool.

If you are interested in what foods contain the most phenylalanine, we recommend you visit our tool.

Here's our top ranked list of foods that contain Phenylalanine.

Sara Niemelä

co-founder Care Omnia, Head Content Creator

Author Image of Sara Niemelä

Nutrition is my passion. I've spent thousands upon thousands of hours reading, analyzing, categorizing and comparing research studies.

I’m a wife and a mother of three. I enjoy the outdoors, cooking, and spending time with my family.