The 50 Best High Lysine Low Arginine Vegan Foods
There’s a lot of research showing that a high lysine and low arginine diet is effective at preventing herpes symptoms like cold sores from appearing.
Dairy is great for this, but obviously not an option on a vegan diet.
Two things matter.
First, the amount of lysine. You want to aim for at least 1.5-3 grams of lysine per day.
Secondly, you want a reasonably low amount of arginine.
In other words, you want a high ratio of lysine to arginine, which is what we’ll look at here.
Vegan Foods With the Highest Ratio of Lysine to Arginine
I collected detailed nutritional data for all the vegan foods I could find.
I’ve then calculated a ratio of lysine to arginine (higher is better), and sorted the data by the ratio between the two. Most of these foods come from my list of the best vegan sources of lysine.
Here’s a table of the best high lysine low arginine vegan foods:
|Food||Lysine (g)||Arginine (g)||Ratio|
|Green bell pepper||0.064||0.044||1.45|
|Lettuce (red leaf)||0.07||0.063||1.11|
|Red bell pepper||0.059||0.059||1.00|
Quite a few foods have a decent ratio between the two amino acids.
In general, you want to focus on:
- Fruits – Even though they don’t have much protein, they have a relatively high amount of lysine. Apricots, mangos, apples, plums, peaches, etc. are all good. They’re also one of the main sources of vegan vitamin C.
- Vegetables – Cauliflower, avocado, and bell peppers are all near the top of the list.
- Legumes – Multiple types of beans and lentils all have a ratio of 0.9 or better, which is decent. More importantly, they have a high raw amount of lysine, which will help you reach your daily targets.
The Vegan Foods With the LOWEST Ratio of Lysine to Arginine
I think it could also be useful to know which foods to go out of your way to avoid if you’re trying to get the best ratio possible.
Let’s take a look at the worst 20:
|Food||Lysine (g)||Arginine (g)||Ratio|
In short, nuts and seeds have a terrible ratio . Nuts have an amino acid profile that’s quite low in lysine.
The only non-nuts that you need to limit are onion, garlic, and rice.
Hopefully this helps you find a vegan diet that works for you and is high in lysine, and relatively low in arginine.
The 8 Best High Lysine Low Arginine Vegan Foods
- Cauliflower – 2.52 ratio
- Apricot – 2.16 ratio
- Mango – 2.13 ratio
- Apple – 2.08 ratio
- Plum – 1.83 ratio
- Nectarine – 1.79 ratio
- Cherry – 1.76 ratio
- Pear – 1.67 ratio
About the author
Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance nutrition writer. I’ve been vegan for years and try to make life easier for others by sharing what I’ve learned.
I made a HUGE database of vegan foods. These 50 foods are the highest in lysine, while having the least amount of arginine per serving.
Top 10 Foods Highest in Lysine
Lysine is an essential amino acid involved in the creation of collagen (1) and retention of calcium. (2)
Lysine may also help alleviate herpes simplex infections, and reduce the recurrence of cold sores. Low lysine levels have been found in people with Parkinson’s, hypothyroidism, kidney disease, asthma, and depression. (2)
A deficiency of lysine can lead to tiredness, inability to concentrate, irritability, bloodshot eyes, retarded growth, hair loss, anemia and reproductive problems. (2,3)
Excess amounts of the amino acid arginine antagonizes (blocks) the effects of lysine on the body, and can create a lysine deficiency. Furthermore, lysine needs adequate amounts of vitamin B1, B2, B6, vitamin C, glutamic acid, and iron to be absorbed. (2)
High lysine foods include lean beef, chicken, pork, fish, shellfish, tofu, cheese, milk, beans, lentils, and peas. The recommended daily intake for lysine is 30mg per kilogram of body weight or 13.6mg per pound. A person weighing 70kg (
154 pounds) should consume around 2100mg of lysine per day. (5)
Below is a list of the top 10 foods highest in lysine with the %RDI calculated for someone weighting 70kg (154lbs). For more high lysine foods see the extended list of lysine-rich foods.
A deficiency of lysine can lead to tiredness, inability to concentrate, irritability, bloodshot eyes, retarded growth, hair loss, anemia, and reproductive problems. High lysine foods include lean beef, chicken, pork, fish, shellfish, tofu, cheese, milk, beans, lentils, and peas. The recommended daily intake for lysine is 30mg per kilogram of body weight or 13.6mg per pound. A person weighing 70kg (~154 pounds) should consume around 2100mg of lysine per day.