Foods Rich in 5-Htp

5-HTP is short for 5-Hydroxytryptophan. Oftentimes the words 5-HTP and tryptophan are used interchangeably; however, 5-HTP is a derivative of the amino acid tryptophan, which is found in food. Neither 5-HTP or tryptophan can be created in the body–therefore you must provide adequate amounts through food or supplementation. The body converts 5-HTP to serotonin, which is necessary for many functions of the brain and human body.

Milk and Dairy

Milk contains the highest amount of tryptophan available in a food, and dairy products such as cheese–particularly Swiss cheese–are naturally high as well. While a glass of warm milk at night may lull you to sleep and remind you of home, adequate serotonin production comes from a diet rich in many sources of tryptophan and 5-HTP.


Psychology states, “Tryptophan can indeed make you sleepy, but turkey doesn’t contain substantially more tryptophan than other protein sources.” Beef, chicken and pork are also great sources of protein and 5-HTP, which are building blocks of healthy neurotransmitters.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts are a rich source of tryptophan. Walnuts, almonds, cashews and pecans are wonderful sources of tryptophan. Seeds such as flax seeds and pumpkin seeds have been called “brain food” by Natural In addition to tryptophan they contain brain-supporting nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, which work hand in hand with 5-HTP to support brain health.


Fish, like meat, is high in tryptophan. It is an excellent source of protein, which is the building block of amino acids. Salmon, tuna, perch and trout are all excellent sources.

Fruit and Vegtables

Bananas are known for their high levels of tryptophan, as are cantaloupe, oranges and avocados. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, peas, potatoes and spinach are excellent sources of 5-HTP.


If you are craving chocolate you might truly be looking for a little serotonin boost. Chocolate contains tryptophan–which is necessary for the production of serotonin.

About this Author

Lori Hamann, M.S.E., is a transformational life coach and counselor. She holds a Master of Science degree in counseling and is well versed in holistic health, wellness and personal development. Hamann has authored several e-books, Internet-based e-zines and courses in her area of expertise; she also writes for LIVESTRONG. She’s been writing for 12 years.