High Arginine Foods: Benefits, and Risks

high arginine foods

Arginine or L-arginine is a semi-essential amino acid. Therefore, it is important for the growth of the body and nitric oxide release. A person may become deficient in arginine during times of stress, while the body’s production does not meet its demands. In normal circumstances, certain amino acids are unnecessary, but maybe sometimes. Therefore, arginine is a semi-essential amino acid (1). Here are high arginine foods to add to your diet.

1. Meat is High in Arginine

Red meat is a complete source of protein because it includes all the amino acids that the body needs, including arginine.


Beef is rich in protein, but it contains more fat than any other source of protein. One pound of cooked beef contains 4.131 grams of arginine.


One cooked turkey breast contains 16.207 grams of arginine. Besides being a substantial source of protein, turkey has a high concentration of other nutrients such as vitamin B and omega-3 fatty acids.


Chicken is another common, safe way of gaining protein. One chicken breast contains almost 9 grams of arginine.

2. Soybeans

One cup of roasted soybeans contains 4.6 grams of arginine. Soybeans are a major source of potassium and magnesium.

3. Chickpeas

Chickpeas are a substantial source of protein and fiber, especially if you don’t eat meat. One cup of cooked chickpeas contains 1.3 grams of arginine.

4. Pumpkin Seeds

One cup of pumpkin seeds has about 7 grams of arginine. Pumpkin seeds are also a major source of iron and zinc.

5. Peanuts

Peanuts are a significant source of protein, vitamin B-3, Vitamin E, folate, and niacin. A cup of peanuts contains 4.6 grams of arginine. However, Peanuts are high in fat and you should not eat one complete cup in one sitting. It is a brilliant idea to split it into 4 servings.

6. Spirulina

Spirulina is a blue-green algae rising in the water. It’s often purchased as a powder and used to add to smoothies. Therefore, one cup of spirulina contains 4.6 grams of arginine along with high calcium, magnesium, potassium, and niacin content. You are more likely to use one tablespoon spirulina, which would place the count of arginine at 0.28 grams.

7. Lentils

Lentils are a substantial source of fiber and protein. One cup of lentils contains 1.3 grams of arginine. Lentils also provides 63 percent of your daily requirement for dietary fiber.

8. Dairy Products

You can get arginine from dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. There are about 0.2 grams in one cup of milk, and about 0.25 grams in 4 ounces of cheddar cheese. In addition, the dairy product is also a significant source of protein and other nutrients.

Side Effects of Too Much Arginine

Some evidence suggests that consuming arginine in excessive quantity can even make herpes symptoms worse, leading to outbreaks of cold sores (2).

Consuming more arginine can indirectly cause cold sores by affecting arginine and lysine levels in the body.

However, lysine can cure cold sores and avoid them, and it shares an absorption path with arginine. Therefore, if your arginine level is high, your body may not absorb enough lysine.

However, people with liver cirrhosis or low blood pressure should avoid taking arginine supplements. Therefore, such supplements are not appropriate for anyone who has cardiovascular disease.

Taking it as a supplement can have side effects such as stomach pain and diarrhea. Larger doses can also pose risks to people who are taking certain medications or have certain health conditions.

The Bottom Line

Many adults can produce enough arginine to meet their body needs, but children need to consume extra quantities from the diet to enhance the growth of the body. However, some conditions may cause a deficiency in arginine. Here, a person might need to integrate foods rich in arginine into the diet. Arginine is found in a variety of foods, including legumes, nuts, and meats.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is arginine?

Arginine is an amino acid necessary for nitric oxide release. However, protein is digested and then processed into amino acids. They can be disassembled and put together in unique ways to complete your body needs (3).

What does arginine do?

Arginine may have these benefits. Here’s what arginine does for the body (4):

1. Produces nitric oxide and relaxes arteries and blood vessels.

2. It helps the kidney in removing waste.

3. It improves immune system functions.

4. May prevent erectile dysfunction symptoms.

5. May manage heart disease.

6. Prevents injuries during exercise.

7. Boosts recovery in bodybuilding by repairing tissue.

8. Reduces body fat.

9. Increases bone density.

10. Increases energy levels.

Is it safe to eat high-arginine food?

High-arginine foods are high in protein and it is safe to eat. Since arginine is made from other amino acids, high-protein foods help to raise the levels of arginine in the body.

How much arginine should you take?

The standard dosage is 2 to 3 grams three times a day, while lower and higher doses have been reported too. Therefore, ask your physician or personal trainer for advice. They may prescribe additional arginine in some situations.

How can L-arginine benefit athletes?

Taking L-Arginine at bedtime helps to enhance the levels of human growth hormone testosterone. Obviously, if an athlete has low HGH and low testosterone, then he or she could not compete at the highest level. Skilled athletes also take 15 to 30 grams of Arginine a day to help promote the release of HGH and the development of the muscles (5).

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Naeem Durrani BSc
Naeem Durrani is a freelance journalist who specializes in health and wellness innovation. His interests include medical research, nutrition, and the scientific evidence around effective wellness practices that empower people to positively transform their lives.
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