What is cysteine? Discover its functions, what are the foods rich in cysteine ​​and its different health benefits.

The amino acids are essential nutrients essential for our body. Our body is capable of synthesizing only one group of amino acids (finding them in high concentrations in organs or in other parts of the body), so that the way to provide the other group of amino acids can only be through the daily diet.

Amino acids are divided into essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids. In this sense, essential amino acids are precisely those that our body cannot synthesize by itself and we must provide them through the diet. While non-essential amino acids are those that can be synthesized.

The Cysteine is a nonessential amino acid less known, more popular especially unlike others such as arginine or glutamine. It is also known by the name of Cyst.

What is cysteine?

As we briefly indicated in the previous lines, cysteine is a non-essential amino acid (that is, it is an amino acid that our body is capable of synthesizing by itself), which needs  methionine for its manufacture; That is, as long as there is a sufficient amount of methionine, our body will be able to manufacture it.

It usually works in conjunction with another amino acid, called cystine, which is actually made up of two cysteines.

Cysteine ​​functions

  • It acts as an antioxidant.
  • Protects the body against radiation damage.
  • Protects both the liver and the brain from the action of different toxins.
  • Promotes recovery from surgery or burns.
  • Helps burn fat.
  • Participate in muscle building.

Health benefits of cysteine

As we have indicated in the section dedicated to the functions of cysteine, we are faced with a non-essential amino acid that needs methionine for its manufacture.

It is an essential nutrient that acts as an antioxidant, protecting our body against radiation damage, and in turn protecting both the liver and the brain from damage caused by certain toxins (such as toxic compounds in cigarettes, alcohol or drugs).

It has recently been discovered that it can be an interesting nutrient in the treatment of obesity, since it promotes the burning of fat.

In addition, it participates in the formation of muscles and delays aging.

Where to find cysteine?

Here are the foods richest in cysteine:

  • Food of animal origin: meat, fish, eggs, dairy products and derivatives.
  • Plant-based foods: legumes, vegetables and greens, cereals, seeds and nuts.


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