Which foods cause herpes outbreaks?

Did you know that certain foods can cause an outbreak if you have the herpes virus? This goes for not just HSV1 and HSV2, but also Shingles, EBV/Epstein Barr Virus, and others in the family of herpes viruses.

Now, to be clear, foods on their own DO NOT cause herpes, but if you already have it, then there are certain foods that can “feed” the herpes virus and cause it to multiply rapidly, resulting in an “outbreak.”

How do I know this? Because I’ve had the herpes virus since 2012 and learned the hard way! I did tons of research and finally figured out that certain foods were causing me to break out.

Ok so, which foods cause herpes outbreaks? I’ve created a list for you below.

⬇️ If you’re in a hurry, scroll down! ⬇️

If you want to know why these foods can cause a herpes outbreak, read the next few paragraphs. 🙂

Why do certain foods cause herpes outbreaks?

Lysine (a.k.a. L-Lysine – pronounced LIE-SEEN) and arginine (a.k.a. L-Arginine – pronounced AR-JEN-EEN)) are 2 of 20 amino acids that are the building blocks that make up your body’s proteins. Your body needs both of them.

Lysine is an essential amino acid, meaning that your body cannot make it on its own, so you need to get it through the food you eat.

Arginine is a conditional amino acid, meaning that the body makes it on its own, and would only need to be intentionally consumed if the body wasn’t making it sufficiently (e.g. in certain cases of illness or stress).

However, consuming too much arginine causes the herpes virus to replicate, which greatly increases the chance of an outbreak. So technically, arginine doesn’t cause the outbreak itself. What it does is feed the herpes virus, giving it exactly what it needs to multiply and throw a party on your face or below your waist!

On the other hand, lysine blocks the activity of arginine, which helps to prevent the herpes virus from replicating. (I would love to be able to cite a source for you that provides full details on the antagonistic relationship between lysine and arginine, but I wasn’t able to find a single clear explanation on this from a reputable source. I will post one as soon as I find one!)

This is really all you need to keep in mind: Consuming too much arginine and not enough lysine can trigger a herpes outbreak.

And I don’t just mean the total quantity of arginine and lysine in your diet overall. I mean the ratio of arginine vs lysine within the specific, individual meal you’re having. If you’d like to prevent herpes outbreaks through your diet, make sure each of your meals has MORE lysine than arginine.

Now, here’s that list I promised!

List of Foods that can Cause Herpes Outbreaks

The following foods all contain very high amounts of arginine and very low amounts of lysine, which is what can trigger those super fun and pleasurable outbreaks you probably know all too well.

If you have any form of the herpes virus (including HSV1, HSV2, Shingles, EBV/Epstein-Barr and other viruses in the herpes family), I would HIGHLY recommend you either avoid these foods completely or be very, very cautious when you do have them and only have a TINY bit – and even then, try to make sure you’re having a high lysine food with it to help balance it out and give yourself the best chance at preventing a herpes outbreak.

The only exceptions are onions and garlic; don’t worry about onions and garlic unless you are eating them by themselves in large amounts. (It sounds crazy, but sometimes people do this to try and boost their immune systems.)You are most likely already consuming these in small amounts, and their nutritional properties are super valuable, so if that’s the case, you should be good to go with those two.

  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Cashews
  • Hazelnuts
  • Walnuts (black)
  • Pine Nuts
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Almonds + Almond Butter
  • Pecans
  • Peanuts + Peanut Butter
  • Oranges + Orange Juice
  • Tangerines + Tangerine Juice
  • Raisins, Grapes + Grape Juice
  • Grapefruit
  • Goji Berries
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Chia Seeds
  • Hemp Seeds/Hearts
  • Flaxseed
  • Coconut Milk
  • Coconut Meat
  • Coconut Water
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • White Rice
  • Brown Rice

Below is a chart so you can see all of the specific data for each food for yourself. I extracted all of the info in the chart from the USDA FoodData Central website and then sorted the foods with the highest ratio of arginine vs lysine at the top.

You will notice that I listed both the juice and fruit formats separately because the juiced version is obviously more concentrated, and therefore has a more concentrated quantity of arginine vs lysine. Same thing goes for raisins. I found that the dried versions of fruit tended to be higher in arginine than in their fresh state. As you can see, this is a minor detail that can make a big difference in the ratios!

Foods that can trigger a herpes outbreak
Foods that can trigger herpes outbreaks

Btw, if you want to find the lysine and arginine ratio of any food that’s not listed above, you can search individually for them on the USDA FoodData Central website, or you can save yourself tons of time and grab a copy of my Lysine vs Arginine Food Ratio Charts below!

The Lysine vs Arginine Food Ratio Charts

Lysine vs Arginine Food Ratio Charts

This is a 60+ page quick reference PDF I put together to help people just like you and I who are focusing on preventing herpes virus-related outbreaks through our diets.

The data is formatted in a way that makes it easy for you to see not only the lysine and arginine content of each food, but more importantly, its ratio of lysine to arginine.


Save yourself hours of time. I did the hard work so you don’t have to! This clear, concise quick reference PDF contains all the info you need and nothing you don’t.

Keep your life simple with this go-to reference guide and never again worry about doing multiple searches over and over, then sorting through unnecessary info to find out what you really want to know…

HOW MUCH LYSINE VS ARGININE DOES THIS FOOD HAVE? All of that info is now condensed and right at your fingertips at a moment’s access.

The foods in each chart have been sorted with the highest (best) lysine to arginine ratio at the top, and the lowest at the bottom. This way, it’s easy for you to know which foods are safe and which to be careful with.

Here’s a sample image of one of the pages inside to give you an idea of what you’ll be getting. (There are 11 pages for veggies alone!)

Sample Page: Lysine to Arginine Ratio of Vegetables

To be clear, the Lysine to Arginine Quick Reference Guide contains specially designed Lysine to Arginine Food Ratio Charts. The charts don’t contain any of the other nutritional data such as protein, carbohydrates, etc.

It only contains the vital info you need to decide the following:

  1. Whether you can consume a certain food by itself (for the foods with more lysine than arginine)
  2. Whether you need to combine that food with a high lysine food to balance it out (for those that have slightly more arginine than lysine)
  3. Whether you might be better off avoiding that food entirely (for the foods that are super high in arginine compared to lysine. I call these the outbreak party starters lol.)  

It was specially designed for people like you and me who are trying to consume high lysine, low arginine foods in order to prevent herpes virus-related outbreaks.

Lysine vs Arginine Food Ratio Charts

Get your copy today and use it for the rest of your life! Easy peasy! 🙂


Lysine-Arginine Blogger

I’m just a regular person who learned the hard way that too much arginine causes herpes outbreaks. I found real solutions that have worked for me to prevent outbreaks for years. My mission is to share everything I've learned with as many people as possible, to prevent them from going through the same pain and suffering I did. Because once you know what to do, you won't have to suffer anymore!

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The Lysine Arginine Food Ratio Charts are now available IN PRINT on AMAZON!