Top 10 Foods Highest in Lysine

Top 10 Foods Highest in Lysine

Lysine is an essential amino acid involved in the creation of collagen (1) and retention of calcium. (2)

Lysine may also help alleviate herpes simplex infections, and reduce the recurrence of cold sores. This is especially true when the ratio of lysine to argnine is high. Excess amounts of the amino acid arginine antagonizes (blocks) the effects of lysine on the body, and can create a lysine deficiency. Furthermore, lysine needs adequate amounts of vitamin B1, B2, B6, vitamin C, glutamic acid, and iron to be absorbed. (2). For more see the list of foods highest in lysine and lowest in argnine.

A deficiency of lysine can lead to tiredness, inability to concentrate, irritability, bloodshot eyes, retarded growth, hair loss, anemia and reproductive problems. (2,3) Further, low lysine levels have been found in people with Parkinson's, hypothyroidism, kidney disease, asthma, and depression. (2)

High lysine foods include lean beef, chicken, pork, fish, shellfish, tofu, cheese, milk, beans, lentils, and peas. The reference dietary intake (RDI) for lysine is 30mg per kilogram of body weight or 13.6mg per pound. A person weighing 70kg (~154 pounds) should consume around 2100mg of lysine per day. (5)

Below is a list of the top 10 foods highest in lysine with the %RDI calculated for someone weighting 70kg (154lbs). For more high lysine foods see the extended list of lysine-rich foods.

List of High Lysine Foods

A steak on a plate

#1: Beef (Skirt Steak)

per 6oz Steak
per 100g
per 200 Calories
(268% RDI)
(157% RDI)
(117% RDI)

More Red Meat High in Lysine

  • 127% RDI in 3oz lamb roast
  • 105% RDI per 3oz top round steak
  • 105% RDI per 3oz buffalo steak

See all meats high in lysine.

A roast chicken

#2: Lean Chicken Breast

in a 6oz Breast
per 100g
per 200 Calories
(250% RDI)
(147% RDI)
(187% RDI)

More Poultry High in Protein

  • 272% RDI in a roasted chicken leg
  • 229% RDI in 6oz of ground turkey
  • 180% RDI in 6oz of turkey breast
  • 154% RDI per cup of light chicken meat
  • 136% RDI in a roasted chicken thigh

See all meats high in lysine.

A pork chop

#3: Lean Pork Chops

in a 6oz Chop
per 100g
per 200 Calories
(223% RDI)
(131% RDI)
(135% RDI)

More Pork Products High in Lysine

  • 170% RDI per cup of lean ham
  • 128% RDI per rack of pork ribs
  • 100% RDI in a 3oz pork bratwurst
  • 98% RDI per 3oz roast pork tenderloin
  • 94% RDI per 3oz of ground pork

See all meats high in lysine.

Tuna Fillet

#4: Tuna

in a 6oz Fillet
per 100g
per 200 Calories
(222% RDI)
(131% RDI)
(142% RDI)

More Fish High in Lysine

  • 208% RDI per 6oz salmon fillet
  • 187% RDI per 6oz snapper fillet
  • 187% RDI per 6oz tilapia fillet
  • 180% RDI per 6oz cod fillet
  • 177% RDI per 6oz mackerel fillet

See all fish high in lysine.

King crab legs

#5: King Crab

in 1 Crab Leg
per 100g
per 200 Calories
(107% RDI)
(80% RDI)
(165% RDI)

More Shellfish High in Lysine

  • 173% RDI in 20 small clams
  • 118% RDI per dungeness crab
  • 93% RDI per 3oz of lobster
  • 90% RDI per 3oz of octopus
  • 88% RDI per 3oz of shrimp

See all fish high in lysine.

A block of tofu

#6: Firm Tofu

per Cup
per 100g
per 200 Calories
(106% RDI)
(42% RDI)
(58% RDI)

More Soy Products High in Lysine

  • 91% RDI per cup of boiled soybeans (edamame)
  • 35% RDI per 1 oz handful of dry roasted soybeans
  • 18% RDI per tblsp of soy protein powder
  • 15% RDI per cup of soymilk
A bowl of Cottage Cheese

#7: Low-Fat Ricotta Cheese

per 1/2 Cup
per 100g
per 200 Calories
(80% RDI)
(64% RDI)
(93% RDI)

More Cheese High in Lysine

  • 45% RDI per oz of grated parmesan
  • 40% RDI per oz of romano
  • 37% RDI per oz of gruyere
  • 36% RDI per oz of gouda
  • 36% RDI per oz of provolone
A glass of milk

#8: Milk

per 16oz Glass
per 100g
per 200 Calories
(66% RDI)
(13% RDI)
(79% RDI)
  • 60% RDI per cup of non-fat yogurt

See all dairy products high in lysine.

Navy Beans

#9: Canned Navy Beans

per Cup
per 100g
per 200 Calories
(66% RDI)
(25% RDI)
(44% RDI)

Other Beans and Lentils High in Lysine

  • 57% RDI per cup of white beans
  • 56% RDI per cup of split peas
  • 55% RDI per cup of red kidney beans
  • 51% RDI per cup of pinto beans
  • 50% RDI per cup of black beans

See all beans and lentils high in lysine.

Green Peas

#10: Green Peas

per Cup Cooked
per 100g
per 200 Calories
(24% RDI)
(15% RDI)
(36% RDI)

Other Vegetables High in Lysine

  • 16% RDI per cup of cooked spinach
  • 12 RDI per cup of sweet potatoes
  • 10% RDI per cup of mushrooms

See all vegetables high in lysine.

See All 200 Foods High in Lysine

More Lysine Rich Foods

#1 Soybean Sprouts1 cup25% RDI
#2 Toasted Wheat Germper oz25% RDI
#3 Eggsin 1 large egg22% RDI
#4 Quinoaper cup21% RDI
#5 Squash and Pumpkin Seedsper 1 oz handful19% RDI
#6 Hemp Seedsper oz17% RDI
#7 Oatmealper cup15% RDI
#8 Brussels Sproutsper cup cooked9% RDI
#9 Brown Riceper cup8% RDI
#10 Almondsper 1oz handful8% RDI

Foods Highest in Lysine and Lowest in Arginine

#1 Farmed Atlantic Salmonper 6oz fillet3451mg2247mg
#2 Milk16oz glass1382mg470mg
#3 Yogurt1 cup762mg255mg
#4 Swiss Cheese1 oz734mg263mg
#5 Cauliflower1 cup chopped232mg92mg
#6 Cremini Mushrooms1 cup whole219mg107mg
#7 Apricots1 cup halves150mg70mg
#8 Mangos1 cup pieces109mg51mg
#9 Starfruit (Carambola)1 cup sliced83mg23mg
#10 Papaya1 cup pieces36mg15mg
For more see the ranking of all foods highest in lysine and lowest in arginine.

About the Data

Data for the curated food lists comes from the USDA Food Data Central Repository.

You can check our data against the USDA by clicking the (Source) link at the bottom of each food listing.

Note: When checking data please be sure the serving sizes are the same. In the rare case you find any difference, please contact us and we will fix it right away.

About Nutrient Targets

Setting targets can provide a guide to healthy eating.

Some of the most popular targets include:
  • Daily Value (%DV) - The %DV is a general guideline for everyone and takes into account absorption factors. It is the most common target in the U.S. and found on the nutrition labels of most products. It is set by the U.S. FDA.
  • Reference Dietary Intake (%RDI) - The Reference Dietary Intake (RDI) accounts for age and gender. It is set by the U.S. Institute of Medicine. The RDI for amino acids is set by the U.N. World Health Organization. The daily value (%DV) builds on the reference dietary intake to create a number for everyone.
  • Adequate Intake (%AI) - Sets a target for Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats. The Adequate Intake is also set by the U.S. Institute of Medicine. It represents a number to ensure adequacy but lacks the same level of evidence as the Reference Dietary Intake. In short, the number is less accurate than the RDI.
  • See the Guide to Recommended Daily Intakes for more information.

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Data Sources and References

  1. Collagen Structure and Stability
  2. PubChem on Lysine
  3. Canadian Drug Database on L-Lysine
  4. U.S. Agricultural Research Service Food Data Central
  5. World Health Organization (WHO) Technical Report Series – Protein And Amino Acid Requirements In Human Nutrition ISBN 978 92 4 120935 9