Arginine – scientifically called L-Arginine – is an amino acid produced by our bodies. However, deficiencies are common and are often the result of trauma (cuts, burns, surgical procedure, etc.). Several foods can compensate this by providing us with naturally occurring arginine or citrulline (its precursor). Discover them in this article: 10 foods containing arginine.
Arginine is crucial for cellular division and photosynthesis (e.g. what allows our bodies to synthesise organic matter thanks to UV light not unlike vitamin D). Moreover, it also helps to relax blood cells.
Starting adulthood, we have to consume 6 to 9 grams of arginine daily. In addition, this amino acid is beneficial for people suffering from migraines, obesity, cardiovascular disease, etc.
If you do not suffer from the pathologies aforementioned, arginine will improve your blood flow and your cardiovascular health. Essentially, it’s the ideal stuff to replenish your energy levels and boost your erections! Also, it will reduce your risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. (1)
Now, let’s discover these 10 foods containing arginine!
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10 Foods Containing Arginine
1. Crustacea and Fish
Crustacea – aka seafood – is an excellent source of arginine. However, the hefty price tag and the endangered species limit our consumption. So, when possible, enjoy the benefits of crab, lobster, oysters, prawns, squid, clams, etc.
Also, fatty fishes are a good source of arginine. If your budget is low, stock up on sardines, they are also an excellent source of fatty acids (omega 3). You can also occasionally eat tuna, salmon, haddock and mackerel.
Yolks can provide you a healthy amount of arginine. Moreover, eggs are accessible and incredibly versatile.
In addition, eggs are a great source of protein and the yolk contains precious vitamins (avoid cooking the yolk to preserve these).
In order to reap a maximum of benefits, choose your eggs organic or if possible, buy them directly in a traditional farm.
Did you know that eggs contained all the amino acids that we need to function?
Turkey is the poultry winner when it comes to arginine. However, chicken, quail and game all contain decent amounts of arginine.
Don’t hesitate to incorporate little known meats that may be cheaper to your diet. Moreover, ask your butcher for cheap cuts, they are not necessarily offal.
Nonetheless, if you do enjoy offal, go for it, you will boost your iron levels!
4. Red Meat
Extremely rich in protein, red meat is also a good source of arginine.
For best results, get yourself some pork and lean cuts of beef.
However, eating too much red meat is linked to an increase of cardiovascular disease. Therefore, limit your consumption, twice a week maximum.
5. Nuts and Seeds
If you are into snacking, nuts and seeds are a godsend! Not only they are extremely nutritious (proteins, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, etc.) but they also contain arginine!
Vary your snacking treats by getting plenty of sunflower seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts, cashew nuts, Brazil nuts, almonds, peanuts…
As a rule of thumb, eat about a handful a day, to avoid eating 2 thousand calories in one sitting!
Chickpeas, red beans, kidney beans, lentils, white beans are all legumes.
The best sources of arginine among them are lentils and chickpeas.
Also, legumes are a brilliant source of protein and minerals.
Many vegetables contain arginine. However, some are better than others, make sure to buy some: spinach, seaweed, soy bean sprouts, chives, sweet peppers, garlic, onions, leeks and mushrooms.
Vegetal arginine is better assimilated by our bodies and will provide you a quick energy boost.
Additionally, soy supplements containing arginine are available but due to their hormonal influence, I would advise you against it.
Fruits are a brilliant post-workout snack thanks to the quick sugar fix they provide – with an extra of vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and…arginine!
However, there’s a special fruit when it comes to arginine and it’s the gorgeous summery watermelon. This red jewel contains high quantities of citrulline, the precursor of arginine. When it’s in season, eat as much as you can! (2)
When the timing is not right, make sure to eat plenty of grapefruit, strawberries, kiwi, avocado and cantaloupe to ensure optimal levels of arginine all year long.
Dark chocolate (preferably raw) is an excellent source of arginine. Also, it’s a source of flavonoids, an essential component to the production of nitric oxide, a gas that improves blood flow and therefore, the quality of erections.
Additionally, chocolate contains components that favour well-being. So, allow yourself a daily pleasure, one or two squares a day or a bit of raw chocolate in a honey sweetened yogurt.
On the other hand, white or milk chocolate are nearly entirely devoid of those benefits. Also, the quantity of sugar they contain may elevate your blood sugar levels and your risk of type 2 diabetes. In consequence, their consumption should be occasional.
Wheat is a good source of arginine. However, it has to be wholesome and unrefined. You could replace your pasta or rice with whole grains of wheat.
Alternatively, when opting for pasta, try wholesome pastas made with quinoa, vegetables or seaweed. They are very tasty, way more nutritious and they don’t raise your blood sugar to its highest levels.
It’s impossible to overdo arginine. However, an elevated level can cause gastrointestinal pains. If so, refrain from eating foods containing arginine for a while.
If you suffer from herpes simplex, avoid foods containing arginine as it could cause the multiplication of the virus.
In addition, if you take medication, feel free to ask your GP if it’s safe to take your medication with higher levels of arginine. It could diminish or increase their strength.
(1) Dietary L-Arginine Intakes and the Risk of Metabolic Syndrome: A 6-Year Follow-Up in Tehran Lipid and Glucose Study. Parvin Mirmiran, Sajjad Khalili Moghadam, Zahra Bahadoran, Asghar Ghasemi, Fereidoun Azizi. Prev Nutr Food Sci. 2017.
(2) Watermelon consumption increases plasma arginine concentrations in adults. Collins JK, Wu G, Perkins-Veazie P, Spears K, Claypool PL, Baker RA, Clevidence BA. Nutrition. 2007.