Healthy Foods That Are Rich in Nucleic Acid
Nucleic acids are chains of nucleotides that are essential to all living things.
There are two types of nucleic acids: deoxyribonucleic acid and ribonucleic acid (DNA and RNA, respectively). Both nucleic acids provide genetic information for your body cells (1).
Most people have never thought about the nucleic acid content of their foods. But it is important to note that there are several health benefits associated with nucleic acids.
This article highlights four healthy foods that are rich in nucleic acid, along with their health benefits.
Benefits of nucleic acid
According to research, foods rich in nucleic acid can offer a wide range of benefits, including boosting the immune system, improving digestion, and enhancing muscle recovery (2).
Apart from obtaining them from your diet, your body can make nucleic acids independently. As a result, your body can produce enough nucleic acid to cover all of your needs.
Sometimes, your body may need more nucleic acids than it can produce, especially in times of injury, illness, or periods of growth. In these cases, it would help to eat foods rich in nucleic acids (2).
Remember that most foods we eat were once living. So, they contain some form of nucleic acids. It is essential to consider that the number of nucleic acids in foods can vary widely.
Nucleic acids may offer a wide range of benefits, such as (2):
- Improved digestion
- Enhances the immune system
- Quicker muscle recovery
- A well-regulated immune system
- Reduced oxidative stress
Foods that are rich in nucleic acids
Note that there is limited research into food sources of nucleic acids. In addition, studies existing on this topic are old. Therefore, there is a need for current research to confirm these amounts.
Apart from nucleic acids, meat is also a healthy source of protein, vitamin B12, zinc, and iron (4).
But on the other hand, diets rich in processed or red meats are linked to a high risk of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that puts you at risk of diabetes, stroke, and heart disease (5, 6).
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends an intake of more unprocessed and lean meats, plant protein, and fish over-processed and red meats whenever possible (7).
Fish is also rich in nucleic acids. According to nutritional studies, fish provides 1.5 – 8 grams of nucleic acid per 100 grams (3.5 ounces) (3).
Also, fish is a healthy source of protein, selenium, iodine, vitamin D, and omega-3 fats (8).
Your choice of fish will influence the amount and type of nutrients you’ll get. For example, fatty fish is richer in omega-3s, and vitamin D. Lean fish contains more iodine (9).
The American Heart Association recommends eating omega-3 fatty fish twice weekly (10).
On the other hand, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns against the consumption of high mercury fish by children, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and those trying to get pregnant. Examples of high mercury fish include marlin, king mackerel, shark, bigeye tuna, swordfish, and shark (11).
According to the FDA, sardines, salmon, albacore tuna, and lake trout are healthy lower mercury fatty fishes.
There are two categories of seafood: crustaceans and mollusks. Both classes provide a healthy, albeit smaller, source of nucleic acids than fish and meat.
Examples of crustaceans include lobster, shrimp, crayfish, and crab.
Examples of mollusks include scallops, mussels, clams, and oysters.
According to older studies, a 100-gram serving of seafood may provide 0.5 – 1.5 grams of nucleic acids (3).
Because of this, the FDA recommends that children, nursing mothers, and pregnant women opt for clams, shrimp, crab, oysters, lobster, squid, and other low mercury foods (11).
4. Beans, lentils, and peas
Beans, peas, and lentils are healthy sources of nucleic acids. This is good news for vegetarians and vegans.
Like seafood, older research suggests that legumes provide between 0.5 to 1.5 grams of nucleic acids per 100-gram serving (3).
Apart from nucleic acids, beans, lentils, and peas are excellent fiber, protein, folate, iron, and magnesium (17).
Studies suggest that regular intake of legumes can increase one’s lifespan (18).
Legumes also contain fiber which may help you feel fuller for a longer time. This, in turn, helps with weight loss (23).
Nucleic acids are present in every living thing, including our foods.
According to current research, fish, meat, legumes, seafood, mushrooms, and legumes are the richest food sources of nucleic acids.
In most cases, your body can produce enough nucleic acids to meet your basic needs, so you don’t have to worry much about your dietary sources.
On the other hand, if you are injured, ill, or in a period of increased growth like pregnancy or adolescence, you may need more nucleic acids than your body can produce. This is where the diet comes in.
It is important to note that research on this topic is outdated, so there’s a need for further studies on it.