Various meats, dairy products, seeds, and nuts contain arginine. Adding some or all of these foods to the diet can help a person increase their arginine intake.
Foods rich in arginine include:
1. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are significant sources of arginine.
Pumpkin seeds have one of the highest concentrations of the amino acid, with a cup of dried pumpkin or squash seeds providing 6.905 grams (g) of arginine.
Though most people in America tend to spit out watermelon seeds, they are also a good source of arginine, providing 5.289 g per cup.
Sesame seeds are also a good source of arginine, providing 4.875 g per cup.
Many types of nuts contain arginine:
- dried walnuts contain 4.522 g per cup
- almonds contain 3.525 g per cup
- pine nuts contain 3.258 g per cup
The preparation of the nuts only slightly affects the amount of arginine they offer, but varieties without added oil or salt are generally more healthful.
Meat is a complete source of protein because it includes all of the amino acids the body requires, including arginine.
Some of the best sources of arginine are white meats, especially turkey breast.
The following meat products provide high amounts of arginine:
- A turkey breast provides 16.207 g.
- Chicken contains 2.790 g of arginine per cup. This meat is low in fat and rich in protein.
- One pork loin chop contains 2.661 g of arginine.
- Beef offers 4.131 g of arginine per cooked pound of 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 pulses. They are an excellent source of plant-based protein.
The following legumes provide plenty of arginine and other amino acids:
- Soybeans offer a good alternative to meat as a source of arginine. A cup of soybeans contains 5.865 g of the amino acid, making these beans a good alternative to meats.
- Raw peanuts provide 4.567 g of arginine per cup. Peanuts are full of healthful unsaturated fats and are a great source of plant-based protein.
- Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, contain 3.878 g per cup. Chickpeas are a good source of healthful fats and protein. They are a popular addition to salads and are the main ingredient in hummus.
A cup of dried seaweed contains 4.645 g of the amino acid. Anyone who needs to increase their arginine intake may want to consider adding seaweed to your diet.
Health benefits of arginine
Arginine supplements can promote health in various ways.
Results of a study from 2013 suggest that arginine supplements may improve blood flow in people with uncomplicated diabetes. Improved blood flow may reduce the effects of several cardiovascular conditions, including coronary artery disease and angina.
However, arginine is not a suitable remedy for all heart conditions. For example, most doctors do not recommend taking arginine after a recent heart attack.
Arginine may also help treat erectile dysfunction that results from cardiac issues. For example, if a problem with the blood vessels makes it difficult to sustain an erection, a doctor may recommend arginine supplements to help improve blood flow.
Arginine may also:
- help the kidneys work more efficiently
- promote wound healing
- boost the immune system
- balance hormones