Fact Checked

What are Foods High in Lysine?

B. Schreiber
B. Schreiber

Common foods high in lysine include fish, most meats including beef and poultry, and dairy products like cheese and milk. Plant-based foods that are good lysine sources include soy foods, brewer's yeast, as well as some nuts and others legumes. Lysine is an essential amino acid that must be obtained from the diet because it can't be produced in the body. Most complete protein sources, such as animal-derived products, contain significant amounts of this amino acid. Lysine supplements are available, but even people who don't eat animal foods shouldn't need them.

People who eat foods derived from animals should easily get enough lysine. Poultry sources of lysine include chicken and turkey. Beef and pork products, as well as venison and lamb, are also rich in lysine. Fish and shellfish are also high in lysine, including commonly available fish like salmon, cod, and sardines. Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt can also help provide adequate amounts of lysine.

The structure of lysine.
The structure of lysine.

Most fruits and vegetables are generally incomplete proteins and contain little lysine. One likely exception to this general rule is the avocado. Some so-called non-traditional grains contain more lysine than traditional grains like wheat. Quinoa and amaranth are two examples of such non-traditional grains that have a more complete profile of the essential amino acids, including lysine. While they may not be as commonly available as traditional grains, they may be a useful addition to a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Brewer's yeast, which contains lysine.
Brewer's yeast, which contains lysine.

While animal products are generally the best foods high in lysine, vegans and vegetarians probably get enough of this amino acid. Vegetarians who eat eggs and animal products are highly unlikely to have low lysine intakes. Vegans who eat large amounts of traditional grains but few legumes are at a slight risk for lysine deficiency. Vegan foods that contain lysine include brewer's yeast and soy products, such as fresh soybeans and soy-based food like tofu and textured vegetable protein, as well as other nuts and beans.

Salmon is high in lysine.
Salmon is high in lysine.

Foods high in lysine are sometimes recommended as a way to treat cold sores caused by the herpes simplex virus, as well as genital warts caused by a related herpes virus. It is thought that, for this strategy to be successful, foods rich in the amino arginine must be avoided. Foods rich in arginine include legumes, nuts, and whole wheat products. Lysine dietary supplements, which usually contain 1,000 to 3,000 mg of lysine, may be useful in reducing recurrent cold sore outbreaks.

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Discussion Comments


From reading this article, it seems that if you eat meat and dairy products, there is no problem getting enough lysine. That's good that if you eat traditional food that most everyone likes, all the lysine that you need is provided.

I was glad to read that avocado, yogurt, meat, and fish supply us with lysine. I eat most of these foods on a daily basis.

I just discovered the wheat product called quinoa, which has lysine in it. I think it is really good.

I'm curious to know what lysine does for our health, besides possibly healing cold sores and herpes virus.


I just found out about another good reason to continue eating avocados - because they have lysine in them.

I don't eat a lot of meat so always try to find foods that have a high amount of protein and amino acids in them. There have been many studies that have shown how beneficial avocados are to your health, and this is another reason why.

Lysine is one of the amino acids that you don't hear a lot about, but all of them are beneficial to your body in one way or another. I also eat a lot of nuts, so this is another way I am getting some lysine in my diet.


@alfredo - I would also try to buy fish that is fresh from the market versus frozen fish, as this can really change the taste of fish as well.


@alfedo - One of the spices I love to use on fish is actually a Greek seasoning called Cavenders and then add lemon to it after it is cooked. Also just preparing fish by smoking it versus just baking it makes it tastes great, but then again I love to grill.

With the Greek seasoning it adds a depth to the fish and the lemon seems to make a fish tastes less fishy, which is usually one of the biggest complaints about fish.

Also I would suggest that your Dad try different fishes, from salmon to halibut there are quite a range of tastes.


@seag47 - I did not know that I needed lysine either. It is perfect timing though, because my parents are in town and I am trying to talk them into the value of eating real foods and less processed food.

It just seems that whenever I see an article about a nutrient I need or something that fights cancer or a disease it is a real food especially fruits, vegetables, and fish.

Now I will add lysine to my ammo of reasons to eat real food!

I think the reason that my parents have some difficulty with eating real food is they have not learned the use of spices to make your food so much tastier.

Does anybody have any spices they use on fish and love? This food in particular my Dad cannot stand to eat. Fortunately he is Catholic so at least during Lent he eats it once a week as part of the Lenten tradition.


I didn’t even know that I needed lysine before reading this, but now I’m sure that I get plenty of it! My diet consists mostly of chicken, turkey, and fish. I also enjoy eating avocados sliced up and placed inside of chicken tortillas.

I frequently eat legumes for a snack. I try to eat one serving of yogurt each day, plus one serving of frozen yogurt for dessert.

These are all foods that I naturally enjoy. Maybe my love for them is my body’s way of letting me know what I need. Perhaps my taste buds respond to the subliminal message of lysine present in them.

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