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Foods High in Arginine That Provide Protein

Arginine (or L-arginine) is a nutrient that you may find mentioned on pre-workout formulas and other sports supplements. It isn’t, however, just for bodybuilders or athletes.

L-arginine is a conditionally essential amino acid, meaning your body can make it on its own but you’ll need more of it during illness and stress, according to the US National Library of Medicine. Arginine has a number of health advantages, including the ability to help your body produce protein, according to the Mayo Clinic.

L-arginine is a nonessential amino acid that is found in animal and vegetable tissues. It can be consumed via mouth or skin to promote muscle growth. L-Arginine has been used topically and orally, particularly as a supplement. It may be given intravenously (some research suggests that L-arginine infusions lower the risk of death following heart surgery), but this practice is very controversial. Because L-arginine is a vasodilator, it can help to open blood vessels and treat heart diseases and erectile dysfunction. However, before adding new supplements, you should always consult with your doctor.

Taking arginine supplements if you’ve had cold sores or genital herpes is not recommended, according to the Mayo Clinic. Taking excess arginine may bring on the virus that causes those diseases. If you get cold sores, the USDA recommends eating fewer foods high in arginine and more foods high in lysine, another amino acid, to help avoid recurrence.

Otherwise, foods high in l-arginine range from fish to poultry to soy to red meat to beans to dairy and whole grains. The amino acid is less prevalent in fruits, eggs, popcorn, chia seeds, and coffee.

These arginine foods can help you increase your intake of this amino acid naturally.

There is no established recommended daily value for arginine since your body usually produces all the arginine it needs. If you’re considering taking an arginine supplement or increasing the amount of arginine in your diet, talk to your doctor first.


A skirt steak contains 1,954 milligrams of arginine per 3 ounces cooked. It also has 24 grams of protein. Keep an eye out for its high saturated fat content, though: Skirt steak has 5.2 grams (26% of the DV) per 3 ounces. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans set by the US Department of Agriculture recommend that individuals consume less than 10 percent of their calories from saturated fat each day (2030-2035).

However, if you’re dining on foods high in nutrients like arginine, such as skirt steak, try to limit your red meat intake to one to two servings per week, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Limit it to one serving or less if you have heart disease or high cholesterol.


1,953 milligrams of arginine are contained in each 3 ounces of Fat Free cooked ground turkey. It also has 25 grams of protein, 27 percent of the Daily Value for vitamin B12, and 17 percent of the Daily Value for zinc.

Arginine is often found in conjunction with vitamin B12, which is synthetized in animal foods like meat. Vitamin B12 aid in the maintenance of your blood and nerve cells, as well as DNA synthesis, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).


A 3-ounce cooked chicken breast has 1,843 milligrams of arginine and 27 grams of protein. Vitamin B12 is also present in the meat.


Tofu can be used as a substitute for meat in numerous meals. It has 1,725 milligrams of arginine per half cup and 22 grams of protein. It’s also high in calcium and protein, so it’s wonderful whether you’re vegan or not.

Tofu also has 65 percent of your daily value for manganese, which is a trace mineral that aids in calcium absorption and immune function. According to Mount Sinai, tofu contains 65% of the DV for manganese. Connective tissue and bones are formed by this mineral, as well as calcium absorption and free-radical combating abilities.

Pork Chops

3 ounces cooked pork chop contains 1,698 mg of arginine. They also include 26.5 grams of protein and 23 percent of the Daily Value for vitamin B12, as well as 2 grams of saturated fat (10% Daily Value).


Although many foods are higher in arginine than others, this amino acid isn’t only found in meat or other animal-based products. Soybeans that have been dry-roasted contain 1,428 milligrams of arginine per half cup.

Overall, these legumes are a wonderful source of protein (which is composed of amino acids) and have 20 grams in a cup, along with 4 grams of heart-healthy fiber and 25% Daily Value of magnesium.


In 3 ounces of cooked yellowfin tuna, you’ll get 1,420 milligrams of arginine.

If you want to add more arginine but don’t want to overindulge in red meat, this is a beneficial alternative: According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, replacing processed or high-fat meats may help you reduce your consumption of saturated fat and sodium, which are often consumed in excess.


Tilapia has 1,352 mg of arginine per 3 ounces cooked. It also offers 22 grams of protein and 109 calories per serving.

Tilapia is a wonderful replacement for red or processed meat if you want to cut down on saturated fat and sodium.


The amino acid arginine is present in 1,065 milligrams per 3 ounces of Tempeh. Arginine is a plentiful mineral in a variety of healthy foods, including soybeans. It also contains 17 grams of protein and 53 percent of your daily copper needs. Copper is essential for optimal health since it aids in the maintenance of both the nervous and immune systems, according to the NIH.


Dry-roasted peanuts have 804 milligrams of arginine per ounce, or about a handful. They also contain approximately 7 grams of protein and just 167 calories.

Peanuts are high in healthy fats. Each serving (6 ounces) has 7.4 grams of monounsaturated fat and 2.7 grams of polyunsaturated fat, all of which are considered beneficial to heart health because they may lower blood cholesterol levels, promote heart rhythm stability, and reduce inflammation.

Finally, arginine is an extremely useful amino acid in a variety of human diets. It can also be found in some plant-based meals, making it a fantastic nutritional addition to your diet.