Foods High in Acetylcholine

Updated April 17, 2017

Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter essential to storing and recalling memories. A deficit of acetylcholine has been associated with increased risk of Alzheimer's disease, according to a 1998 study by P.J. Whitehouse in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Acetylcholine is synthesised in the body from choline in food.


In addition to the role it plays in memory, acetylcholine has a role to play in the ability to concentrate and focus and in muscular coordination. Acetylcholine levels decline with age, in part because of the body's declining ability to synthesise choline acetyltransferase, the enzyme necessary to produce acetylcholine. Foods high acetylcholine have the added benefit of reducing your need for bad fats, notes Dr. Eric Braverman on the Huffington Post.


Unlike other neurotransmitters, acetylcholine is not made from amino acids. The key precursor of acetylcholine in the body is choline, a B vitamin essential in metabolising fats. The more choline you consume, the more acetylcholine your body can make. Lecithin, found in many foods, is a source of choline in the form of phosphatidyl choline.


Among foods high in lecithin are egg yolks, whole wheat, soybeans, wheat germ and organ meats. Vegetables like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and tomatoes contain high levels of choline, as do black beans, kidney beans, peanuts and peanut butter. Grains like oats, corn and barley are good sources of choline. Among fruits, bananas and oranges are rich in the substance. Butter, potatoes, sesame seeds and flax seeds are also good sources of choline. Ginseng root, also known as American ginseng, is an additional source of choline.


According to the World's Healthiest Foods, although no definitive information is available on the effects of cooking, storage and preparation on the choline content of food, choline is "susceptible to alteration by oxygen and heat." Consumers should avoid overcooking foods to preserve its choline content.

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About the Author

Joe Steel is a Northwest-based editor, writer and novelist, former news editor of an outdoor weekly. He also was an editor at a Seattle-based political weekly and editor of a monthly business magazine. He has been published in the "Seattle Times," the "Washington Post" and the "Foreign Service Journal," among other publications.