The proteinogenic amino acid histidine plays an important role in the body and has various effects. It affects protein synthesis as it is an essential component for building proteins. Histidine must be obtained through dietary sources. You can find vegan histidine-rich foods from the table.
One of the main functions of histidine is to serve as a precursor for the synthesis of histamine. Histamine is a chemical compound that acts as a neurotransmitter and inflammatory mediator in the body. It plays a crucial role in regulating the immune system, digestion, and inflammatory reactions.
As a precursor, this amino acid is also required for various enzymes in the body involved in important metabolic processes such as carbohydrate breakdown, DNA and RNA synthesis, energy production, and detoxification.
Furthermore, histidine is involved in regulating the acid-base balance in the body. It can act as a buffer and regulate the pH level in the blood to maintain a stable pH.
Moreover, histidine is an important component of hemoglobin, the protein found in red blood cells responsible for oxygen transport in the body. It binds to oxygen molecules, enabling their transport to various tissues and organs.
Histidine for muscle building?
In the context of muscle building, histidine is not as well-known as other amino acids like leucine, isoleucine, and valine (BCAAs). However, histidine has some functions that may be relevant for muscle growth.
One of the functions of histidine is to serve as a precursor for carnosine. Carnosine is a substance present in muscles that performs various tasks, including buffering acids produced during intense workouts.
Histidine also serves as a precursor for the synthesis of nitric oxide (NO). NO is a molecule that expands blood vessels and promotes blood flow. Good blood circulation is important for transporting nutrients and oxygen to the muscles, thereby supporting muscle building.
In addition, histidine is involved in collagen and creatine synthesis. Collagen is a structural protein that is important for the health of tendons, ligaments, and connective tissue. Creatine plays an important role in the energy metabolism of muscle cells, providing the muscle cells with the energy they need for movement and contraction.
Histidine also acts as an antioxidant, which can help reduce oxidative stress in the body. Intense training and muscle exertion can lead to increased formation of free radicals, and muscle inflammation and damage can be possible consequences.
Differences between L-histidine and histidine?
L-histidine and histidine refer to the same chemical molecule, which is the amino acid histidine. The difference lies in the specific form of the molecule. Amino acids have two enantiomers, which differ in their spatial arrangement:
In terms of their biochemical significance and use, L-histidine and histidine are essentially equivalent. L-histidine is often used to specifically refer to the biologically active form of the amino acid. The D-form of histidine is less common in nature and usually has no biological activity.
Who has a higher histidine requirement?
For most healthy adults, the histidine requirement can be met through a balanced diet with sufficient protein and nutrient intake. Some groups of people may potentially have a higher histidine requirement:
- During pregnancy and lactation, the need for nutrients, including histidine, increases to support the growing fetus or milk production.
- Individuals with certain genetic disorders or metabolic disorders that affect histidine breakdown or metabolism may have an increased need.
- Intense physical activities and sports can increase the demand for histidine, as the amino acid is involved in protein synthesis, muscle repair, and regeneration. Athletes who regularly engage in intensive training may benefit from a slightly increased intake of histidine to maintain muscle mass and function. They should look for foods rich in histidine.
- Certain diseases or injuries associated with inflammation or tissue repair can cause an increased need.
- In older age, the body's ability to break down and utilize proteins may decrease. Older individuals may therefore have an increased need for histidine to prevent age-related loss of muscle mass and maintain muscle health. They should consume a variety of protein-rich foods.
- Chronic conditions such as kidney disease or liver disease can affect the metabolism of amino acids, including histidine, and lead to an increased need.
- Certain medications or drugs can also affect histidine metabolism. Individuals who regularly take specific medications should discuss this with their doctor to understand potential effects and make appropriate adjustments, including considering a histidine-rich diet.
Possible signs of histidine deficiency may include fatigue, muscle weakness, skin problems, immune system disorders, or digestive problems.
Histidine Foods / Sources
A varied vegan diet includes numerous protein-rich foods that are also rich in histidine. The following list reveals which foods are recommended for obtaining sufficient histidine:
- Legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, black beans, peanuts, kidney beans, soybeans, peas, lima beans, and green beans are rich in histidine. They are also good sources of protein, fiber, and other essential nutrients. Check out the table showing histidine content in legumes.
- Various nuts and seeds contain histidine. These include almonds, cashews, pistachios, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, and flaxseeds. Nuts and seeds are also rich in healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals.
- Grains such as oats, rice, wheat, barley, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, and corn contain histidine according to the table. These can serve as the base for many vegan dishes such as oatmeal, whole grain bread, quinoa salad, or millet vegetable stir-fry. The table showing histidine content in grains is available here.
- Specific vegetables are a moderate source of histidine. These include spinach, broccoli, lamb's lettuce, kale, asparagus, zucchini, sweet potato, onions, and celery. These vegetables also provide a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- Algae such as nori, kombu, wakame, and dulse contain histidine and are popular ingredients in vegan cuisine. They can be used in sushi rolls, soups, or salads. Algae are also rich in iodine, iron, and other trace elements.
- Fruits, in general, are not a good source of histidine. Bananas, avocados, grapes, oranges, mangoes, persimmons, and jackfruits have a low histidine content. These fruits are also rich in vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants.
To incorporate histidine-rich foods into a vegan diet, here is a list of recipe ideas:
- Lentil Dal: Cook a delicious lentil dal with spices like cumin, turmeric, and ginger.
- Vegan Sushi Rolls: Roll nori seaweed sheets with avocado, cucumber, carrot strips, and tofu into tasty sushi rolls.
- Chickpea Salad: Mix cooked chickpeas with diced tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and parsley to make a salad.
- Mexican Bean Soup: Prepare a hearty Mexican bean soup with black beans, corn, tomatoes, and spices.
- Stir-Fried Tofu with Vegetables: Sauté tofu cubes with broccoli, bell peppers, and onions in a flavorful sauce.
- Quinoa Burger: Make delicious vegan burger patties using quinoa, oats, black beans, and spices.
- Vegetable Stir-Fry with Edamame: Stir-fry a colorful mix of vegetables including broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, and edamame beans.
- Tomato Soup with White Beans: Cook a savory tomato soup with pureed tomatoes and white beans.
- Vegan Chili sin Carne: Cook a spicy chili with kidney beans, corn, bell peppers, and spices.
- Vegan Pasta Dish with Pesto: Prepare a delicious pasta dish with vegan pesto made from basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and garlic.
- Couscous Salad with Vegetables: Combine cooked couscous with diced tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, and fresh herbs.
- Vegan Thai Curry with Tofu: Cook a flavorful Thai curry with tofu, vegetables, coconut milk, and spices.
- Vegetable and Tempeh Stir-Fried Rice: Stir-fry cooked rice with vegetables, tempeh, and soy sauce for an easy and protein-rich meal.