Amino Acids

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Composition of polyamines and amino acids in plant-source foods for human consumption

  • Yongqing Hou
  • Wenliang He
  • Shengdi Hu
  • Guoyao WuEmail author
Original Article


Dietary polyamines and amino acids (AAs) are crucial for human growth, development, reproduction, and health. However, the scientific literature shows large variations in polyamine and AA concentrations among major staple foods of plant origin, and there is a scarcity of information regarding their complete composition of AAs. To provide a much-needed database, we quantified polyamines, agmatine, and AAs in select plant-source foods. On the dry matter basis, total polyamines were most abundant in corn grains, followed by soybeans, sweet potatoes, pistachio nuts, potatoes, peanuts, wheat flour and white rice in descending order. Glutamine was the most abundant AA in pistachio nuts, wheat flour and white rice, arginine in peanuts, leucine in corn grains, glutamate in soybeans, and asparagine in potatoes and sweet potatoes. Glutamine was the second most abundant AA in corn grains, peanuts, potatoes, and soybeans, arginine in pistachio nuts, proline in wheat flour, and glutamate in sweet potatoes and white rice. Free AAs represented ≤ 3.1% of total AAs in corn grains, peanuts, pistachio nuts, soybeans, wheat flour and white rice, but 34.4% and 28.5% in potatoes and sweet potatoes, respectively. Asparagine accounted for 32.3%, 17.5%, and 19.4% of total free AAs in potatoes, sweet potatoes, and white rice, respectively. The content of histidine, glycine, lysine, tryptophan, methionine, cysteine, and threonine was relatively low in corn grains, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and white rice. All of the analyzed plant-source foods lacked taurine, creatine, carnosine and anserine (antioxidants that are abundant in meats and also present in milk), and contained little 4-hydroxyproline. Proper proportions of plant- and animal-source products are likely most desirable for optimizing human nutrition and health.


Plant-source foods Polyamines Amino acids Arginine Methionine Humans 



Amino acids


Branched-chain amino acids


Dry matter


High-performance liquid chromatography



This work was supported, in part, by the Hubei Hundred Talent Program, Hubei Provincial Foundation of Natural Science (2016CFA070), the Program of National Agricultural Research Outstanding Talents of China (2015), the U.S. Beef Checkoff through the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), and Texas A&M AgriLife Research (H-8200). We thank Dr. Gayan I. Nawaratna for technical assistance in the study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethics statement

This study involved plant-source foods. No approval of animal use protocols is required.

Informed consent

No informed consent is required for this study.

Supplementary material

726_2019_2751_MOESM1_ESM.doc (75 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 75 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yongqing Hou
    • 1
  • Wenliang He
    • 2
  • Shengdi Hu
    • 2
  • Guoyao Wu
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Hubei International Scientific and Technological Cooperation Base of Animal Nutrition and Gut HealthWuhan Polytechnic UniversityWuhanChina
  2. 2.Department of Animal Science and Faculty of NutritionTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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