Choline is a nutrient needed for many bodily processes, including metabolism, neurotransmitter synthesis, brain development, and more.
While your body naturally makes small amounts of this nutrient, it’s not enough to fulfill your needs, so you need to get some from your diet.
Because choline is important for fetal growth and development, the need for this nutrient increases during pregnancy and breastfeeding. As such, pregnant people need 450 mg of choline per day, while those who are breastfeeding need 550 mg (
Despite this, many prenatal supplements contain little, if any, choline. That’s why it’s essential that pregnant or breastfeeding people opt for high quality prenatal supplements and add choline-rich foods to their diet (
Fortunately, this nutrient is found in many animal- and plant-based foods.
Here are 16 foods that are high in choline.
Eggs are one of the best sources of choline, with 1 egg providing 147 mg. This means that eating just 2 eggs per day covers 54% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) (
The choline content of an egg is almost entirely concentrated in the yolk. In fact, there’s 680 mg of the nutrient per 100 grams of egg yolk versus 1 mg per 100 grams of egg white, making it important to eat the whole egg to get the most choline (
Studies show that the natural choline in eggs may be better absorbed than forms of the nutrient found in dietary supplements.
That’s because the choline in eggs is bound to a type of fat called phospholipids. These comprise both hydrophilic (having an affinity to water) and hydrophobic (having an aversion to water) components, allowing them to be directly absorbed by your digestive tract (
Organ meat like liver and kidneys are some of the best sources of choline.
Plus, organ meat is rich in a number of other vitamins and minerals, including iron, B12, folate, vitamin A, copper, and selenium. Adding just a small amount of organ meat to your diet can help cover nutritional gaps of important nutrients like choline (
Fish roe, or caviar, is an excellent source of choline. Just 3 ounces (85 grams) of mixed-species caviar contains 285 mg, or 52% of the RDI (
Caviar is also packed with the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both of which have anti-inflammatory properties (
Try enjoying caviar on crackers or pairing it with hard-boiled eggs for a choline-packed snack.
Therefore, it may not be surprising that some studies have associated low fish intake with lower blood choline levels in certain populations.
For example, a study in 222 pregnant women found that those who ate 75 grams or less of fish per week had a lower intake of choline, DHA, and vitamin D, plus lower blood levels of these nutrients than women who consumed 150 grams or more of fish per week (
Shiitake mushrooms contain an impressive array of nutrients and happen to be a great source of plant-based choline.
One cup (145 grams) of cooked shiitake mushrooms provides 116 mg, or 21% of your daily needs (
In addition, shiitake mushrooms are rich in nutrients like vitamin B5, selenium, and copper, and research suggests that consuming them may benefit your immune health.
For example, a study in 52 healthy adults found that eating 5 or 10 grams of shiitake mushrooms daily for 4 weeks reduced inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein (CRP) (
In the same study, researchers also observed an increased production of important immune cells and secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA), an antibody that’s important for gut health and immunity (
Soybeans are another rich source of plant-based choline. One cup (93 grams) of roasted soybeans contains 214 mg, or 39% of the RDI (
Soybeans are also a good source of plant-based protein, fiber, manganese, magnesium, zinc, and folate (
Try munching on some roasted soybeans or snacking on edamame, the immature version of soybeans, to increase your choline intake.
Beef is rich in many nutrients, including choline. A 3-ounce (85-gram) serving of cooked beef contains 115 mg, which fulfills 21% of the RDI for this nutrient (
Beef is also a source of highly bioavailable protein and iron. For people who are anemic, meaning they have too few or misfunctioning red blood cells, eating beef may help raise blood iron levels and maintain healthy iron stores in the body (
Just 3 ounces (84 grams) of toasted wheat germ packs 153 mg of choline, or 28% of the RDI (
Add wheat germ to oatmeal, yogurt, or smoothies to give your meals and snacks a boost of choline and filling fiber.
Adding protein-rich foods like chicken and turkey to your diet is important for your overall health.
Protein-rich foods can help you feel full in between meals, promote better blood sugar management, and provide important nutrients (
Certain cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts contain choline.
One cup (160 grams) of cooked cauliflower packs 72 mg, or 13% of your daily choline needs, while the same amount of cooked Brussels sprouts and broccoli each provide about 30 mg, or 5% of your daily needs (
Serving cruciferous vegetables with other choline-rich foods like salmon, eggs, chicken, beef, or turkey is a delicious way to meet your daily needs for this nutrient.
For instance, 1 cup (160 grams) of roasted cauliflower alongside 4 ounces (112 grams) of salmon covers nearly 60% of your daily choline needs. Add 2 whole eggs for breakfast or a protein-rich snack like cottage cheese, and your choline needs will be fulfilled for the day.
Almonds are popular tree nuts associated with a number of health benefits. For example, research has demonstrated that eating them may boost levels of heart-protective HDL cholesterol and promote a healthy body composition (
They’re also rich in many nutrients, including vitamin E, protein, fiber, and magnesium.
Plus, almonds have been identified as a plant-based source of choline. Eating 1 ounce (28 grams) of almonds provides your body about 15 mg of the nutrient, which covers 2.5% of your daily needs (
While they contain smaller amounts of choline than other foods on this list, snacking on almonds regularly still helps boost your choline intake.
A 1-cup (170-gram) serving of cooked immature lima beans contains 75 mg of choline, which covers 14% of your daily needs (
For a choline-packed dish, try this recipe for mushroom and lima bean stew — just make sure to use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth to keep it vegan-friendly.
In fact, 1 large (299-gram) red potato contains 57 mg of choline, which fulfills 10% of your daily needs for this nutrient (
Pair red potatoes with chicken, fish, or eggs for a choline-packed dish.
Kidney beans are nutritious legumes that also happen to be a good source of choline.
One cup (177 grams) of cooked kidney beans provides 54 mg of the nutrient, which equates to 10% of the RDI (
Try cooking a choline-packed chili with ground chicken and kidney beans by following this slow-cooker recipe.
Quinoa is a popular gluten-free pseudocereal, meaning it’s botanically not a cereal but commonly used as one. It’s a good source of many nutrients, including choline.
One cup (185 grams) of cooked quinoa has 43 mg of the nutrient, or 8% of the RDI (
Conveniently, quinoa is versatile and can be combined with other foods to create tasty, choline-packed meals.
For example, try making a breakfast hash with eggs, broccoli, and red potatoes and serve it atop a bed of cooked quinoa for a flavorful, choline-rich breakfast option.
Many dairy products are a good source of choline. This includes cottage cheese, a nutritious and protein-packed food.
One cup (210 grams) of plain cottage cheese contains 39 mg, or 7% of the RDI for choline (
Cottage cheese is also an excellent source of calcium, selenium, riboflavin, and B12. Enjoy a serving of cottage cheese topped with chopped almonds and berries for a breakfast or snack that’s high in choline (
It’s important to get enough choline from your diet, as this nutrient is involved in important bodily processes, including neurotransmitter synthesis and metabolism.
Unfortunately, most people, including people who are pregnant and breastfeeding, do not get enough choline in their diets, which can cause low choline status.
Fortunately, many animal- and plant-based foods contain a good amount of choline. Examples include eggs, chicken, organ meat, cruciferous vegetables, and shiitake mushrooms.
To ensure you’re getting enough choline in your diet, make a point to consume a variety of choline-rich foods, such as the ones on this list, on a daily basis.