Best Foods Rich in Arginine: Arginine, or L-arginine, is an amino acid found in foods such as dairy products, fish, poultry, and other meats. It is the building block of protein.
Some research suggests that foods rich in arginine may benefit health, for example, by relieving chest pain, improving erectile dysfunction, and reducing high blood pressure.
The human body produces arginine, and children need it much to grow and develop. Deficiencies are rare, and most adults get any extra arginine they need from their diet.
In this article, you’ll learn about foods rich in arginine, the benefits of amino acids, and the potential risks.
Foods rich in arginine
Various meats, dairy products, seeds, and nuts contain arginine. Adding some or all of these foods to the diet can help increase your arginine intake.
Foods rich in arginine include:
1- Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are essential sources of arginine. Pumpkin seeds contain the highest concentrations of amino acids. A cup of dried pumpkin seeds or pumpkin seeds provides 6.905 grams of arginine.
Although most people in America tend to spit out watermelon seeds, they are among the best foods rich in arginine, providing 5.289 grams per cup.
Sesame seeds are also a good source of arginine, providing 4.875 grams per cup.
Many types of nuts contain arginine:
- Dried walnuts contain 4,522 grams per cup.
- Almonds contain 3.525 grams per cup.
- Pine nuts contain 3.258 grams per cup.
- Preparing the nuts slightly affects the amount of arginine you give, but varieties without added oil or salt are generally healthier.
2- Meat products
Meat is a complete protein source because it contains all the amino acids that the body needs, including arginine.
One of the best foods rich in arginine is meat, especially turkey breast.
The following meat products provide high amounts of arginine:
- Turkey breast provides 16.207 grams.
- The cup contains 2.790 grams of chicken arginine. This meat is low in fat and rich in protein.
- Beef offers 4,131 grams of arginine per pound of cooked meat. Beef is rich in protein, but it contains more fat than many other protein sources.
Legumes are a family that includes beans, peas, and legumes. They are an excellent source of plant-based protein.
The following legumes provide plenty of arginine and other amino acids:
- Soy offers an excellent alternative to meat as a source of arginine. A cup of soybeans contains 5,865 grams of amino acids, making these grains the right choice for the heart.
- Raw peanuts provide 4,567 grams of arginine per cup. Peanuts are full of healthy unsaturated fats and are a good source of plant-based protein.
- Chickpeas contain 3,878 grams per cup. They are a good source of healthy fats and proteins; it is an excellent addition to salads.
Seaweed is a popular health food that provides high arginine levels. A cup of dried seaweed contains 4,645 grams of the amino acid. Anyone who needs to increase their intake of arginine may want to consider adding seaweed to their diet.
What does arginine do in the body?
The medical community classifies arginine as a semi-essential amino acid. This means that the body produces it and also absorbs it from foods.
There are three types of amino acids:
- Semi-essential acids that are produced by the body and absorbed by external sources.
- Essential acids that are not made by the body.
- Non-essential acids that are produced by the body and that do not need to be supplemented through absorption.
Babies need to absorb a certain amount of arginine through the diet to support their growth. Adults only tend to what their bodies produce.
However, some adults do not produce adequate amounts of arginine. If they do not absorb enough from the diet, they may develop a deficiency.
According to research published in 2012, problems with blood vessels or the immune system can lead to an arginine deficiency. The authors concluded that more research is needed to determine the supplement’s effectiveness.
The health benefits of arginine
Arginine supplements can boost health in various ways. A study from 2013 suggests that arginine supplementation may improve blood flow in people with uncomplicated diabetes.
Improving blood flow may reduce the effects of many cardiovascular diseases, including coronary artery disease and angina.
However, arginine is not an appropriate treatment for all heart conditions. For example, most doctors don’t recommend taking L-arginine after a recent heart attack.
Arginine may also help treat erectile dysfunction caused by heart problems. For example, if there is a problem with blood vessels that makes it difficult to maintain an erection, a doctor may recommend arginine supplements to improve blood flow.
Arginine may also:
- Helping the kidneys to work more efficiently.
- Promote wound healing.
- Strengthening the immune system.
- Balance hormones.
Some evidence suggests that high levels of arginine can make herpes symptoms worse, leading to outbreaks of cold sores. This is because the herpes virus needs arginine to reproduce.
Absorbing more arginine might also indirectly cause cold sores by disrupting the balance of arginine and another amino acid called lysine in the body.
Lysine can treat and prevent cold sores, and it shares an absorption pathway with arginine. If more arginine is present, the body may not be able to absorb enough lysine.
People with cirrhosis or low blood pressure should avoid taking L-arginine supplements. These supplements are also not suitable for anyone who has had a heart attack.
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Most adults produce enough arginine, but children need to absorb extra amounts from the diet to support their growth and development.
Some disorders can lead to arginine deficiency. In this case, a person may need to incorporate foods rich in arginine into the diet.
A variety of foods are rich in arginine, including legumes, nuts, and meats. There are risks from taking too much arginine, and a person should speak to a doctor before using an arginine supplement.