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Glutamate and Aspartate Levels in Common Foods
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*Glutamate and Aspartate Levels in Common Foods- The following text and tables were put together by an Internet acquaintance who really grabbed the bull by the horns. I love that kind of passion! She wrote me the Email below:
Hello Dr. Symes -

I had given up hope of finding a solution to my medical problems, which had seriously begun to impair my doctoral research, until my husband found your site while searching for information on celiac disease.

I have been recently diagnosed with celiac but already had for 6 or so years the symptoms of glutamate toxicity: rapid weight loss, terrible insomnia, hypoglycemia, fibromyalgia, mitral valve prolapse... the complications go on.

3 days on your low glutamate diet has already helped increase sleep and decrease pain, something the regular medical professionals haven't been able to do in 5 months of intensive diagnositic and treatment procedures.  For the first time in years I have hope that I'll actually improve.

This is so important that I took the time to create tables on the glutamate and aspertate levels of many common foods, to help me shop and eat.  It is attached and you are definietly free to share it with others, if it meets your medical standards.  Feel free to change it to make it so.

With deep gratitude,


She then prepared some tables (below) that could prove invaluable to many readers who are struggling with issues of pain, insomnia, ADHD/OCD/bipolar disease, fibromyalgia, epilepsy, or other "excitotoxin-related disorders. I am so happy that she agreed to allow me to place them on the site.

These should really help. In those individuals who are battling with disorders such as those above, the strict elimination of the "big 4"...gluten (wheat, barley, rye), cow milk products, soy and corn...along with the foods rich in glutamate and aspartate can be very rewarding. As mentioned in the G.A.R.D. section, once recovery is accomplished, many of the secondary foods (those that are not of the "big 4") can be slowly reintroduced into the diet while observing the response. It's the "big 4" that set us up for all of these problems and once these foods are out of the diet long enough and the malabsorption syndrome and other complications are reversed, the secondary foods will not have as profound of an effect. But, always keep in mind the important tenet of "everything in moderation".   

I hope this helps,

Dogtor J.



Compiled by Helen C. Harrison, Murrieta, CA, March 2007

Nutritional information by



These glutamate and aspartate levels are provided to support the GARD (Gut Absorbtion Recovery Diet, aka Glutamate-Aspartate Restriction Diet) developed by Dr. John B. Symes, DVM, who believes there is a link between food intolerance, malnutrition-malabsorbtion and glutamate toxicity, and the development of digestion and metabolism problems (e.g. IBS, celiac, hypoglycemia, leaky gut syndrome) and neuropathological conditions (e.g. fibromyalgia, ADHD, insomnia, epilepsy, MS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s) because of his research into the relationship of diet to epilepsy in dogs. His web site is 


It should be noted that the amino acid glutamate (also known as glutamic acid) is the major neurotransmitter in the brain and ingesting it in healthful quantities is an important part of a normal diet.  The problem Dr. Symes is addressing is the over ingestion of glutamate and other excitotoxins (aspartate and cysteine) because of damage to the small intestines as a result of celiac disease or poor dietary habits.  A survey of web-available literature indicates that Dr. Symes opinion is shared to a certain extent by other medical and nutritional professionals, but their certainty of the association between the over ingestion of excitotoxins and the more severe physiological and neurological conditions is more tentative. Please keep the preliminary nature of this information in mind when you consider the right diet for you or your loved one.


Dr. Symes recommends eliminating the high consumption of glutamate-aspartate-casein-laden foods (affected grains, especially gluten-bearing ones like wheat, barley, rye and variations thereof, legumes, cow and sheep milk) because their “gluey” amino acids/protein stick to the villi in the small intestines and cause them to atrophy, resulting in malnutrition and malabsorbtion and leading to more serious conditions over time.  According to Dr. Symes, everyone may potentially experience this villius atrophy, depending upon how much of the glutamate-laden foods they ingest over time, but celiacs may be especially prone to this damage because of the condition’s autoimmune dysfunction.  Dr. Symes also recommends the elimination of estrogen-bearing foods (such as soy beans) as estrogen is inflammatory and immunosuppressive. 


For those whose small intestines is injured as a result of poor diet or autoimmune dysfunction, it might be best when planning a diet to think in terms of eliminating large portions or multiple combinations of the high glutamate-aspartate-casein-estrogen foods at one meal and keep the proportion of these foods relative to non-glutamate et. al. foods low, especially when trying to heal.  As the villi regrow and the small intestine heals, individuals without food intolerances or allergies may be able to increase their intake of these foods.  For those who do not have celiac disease or a poor diet generally, on a regular basis vary the intake of gluten and non-gluten cereals, and high glutamate and low glutamate foods, to maintain small intestinal health.  Healthy individuals should not regularly deprive themselves of these essential amino acids as they are necessary for proper brain function.  Consult a medical and/or nutritional professional to determine if this diet would be beneficial for you.


Lower glutamate foods: majority of fruits, vegetables, lamb, eggs, tree nuts and natural sweeteners (molasses, honey, cane juice, maple syrup) but there are exceptions.  Only those vegetables that contain close to 1 gram of glutamate are included, but that is still low compared to other food groups. Higher glutamate foods: majority of grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, dairy, seafood and meat but there are exceptions. Non casein food: goat milk, but it contains a similar amount of glutamate et. al. to cow milk; caution is recommended. Higher casein foods: all cow and sheep milk products.  Gluten foods: wheat (all types), rye, barley, oats contaminated by contact with gluten grains. High-quality, non-gluten oats can be purchased over the internet. Caution is recommended.


Nightshade vegetables (pain-causing): tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, tobacco, peppers. For those with pain syndromes, these may be able to be reintroduced to the diet after healing in the small intestines and insomnia decreases (and serotonin increases!).  From the data at, it appears that levels of glutamate and aspartate in legumes drops once they have sprouted, perhaps rendering this food group less harmful if harvested, stored and prepared accordingly; however, the estrogen in affected legumes may still be an issue. Caution is recommended.


When calculating glutamate ingestion, consider the food amount you are actually likely to eat compared to the 1 c measurement standard used in the tables here.  Compare this data to other nutritional sources to verify accuracy if you have any questions.  “?” means I was unable to find the nutrient values for that item at  “/” means the nutrient information was not available from or the nutrient amount was so low as to be insignificant. “*” means lowest or lower levels of harmful amino acids in the food category.  “+” means a lower level of gluten or amino acids in the food category but may or may not be problematic, depending upon the individual.  Use with caution.   Note that some foods occasionally recommended for celiacs (amaranth, millet, wild rice, sorghum, flax) actually have higher glutamate levels compared to other foods.  This paper does not contain glutamate-aspartate levels for seafood because a quick survey of those foods at showed that all seafood had significant levels of these amino acids, higher than meat and around the level of legumes.  Do check yourselves for individual seafood favorites.

I hope you enjoyed your time here and got something important from your stay. It is my goal to help all of mankind navigate through the jungle of medical information now available on the Internet and find the truth about the origins of what we call "disease" as well as discover the natural solutions for these conditions.
We do have our health's destiny in our own hands more than we've ever imagined, certainly more than most have ever been told. Think naturally and the answer will come.
Dogtor J
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