What Foods Contain L-Arginine and L-Citrulline?

I’ve written many articles about the need for L-arginine and L-citrulline. How critical they are for nitric oxide production. How your endothelial cells use these two amino acids to create nitric oxide, the master signaling molecule of your cardiovascular system.

Quite frankly, you could not live without nitric oxide. It’s a critical molecule in many biological functions but especially for good cardiovascular health. So, I’m often asked:

What foods can I eat that contain L-arginine and L-citrulline?

To answer that question I went shopping, bought some foods and put together the following video. Enjoy the video and I’ll have some observations to make after you watch it:

In preparing this video I came across an excellent chart that lists food sources high in the amino acid L-arginine. I’ll provide you a link to this chart at the end of this article. It was an eye opener, even for me. It changed my thinking on dairy products and it even helped me to discover the reason why Rocky Balboa was able to beat Apollo Creed in the Rocky movies. Let’s start with some observations.

Observation 1Plant based foods are a better source of L-arginine then animal products.

The chart I found lists the L-arginine content in 100 grams of food. 100 grams is just slightly less than a ¼ pound. You’ll note that if you wanted to get 1 gram of L-arginine or more in your diet, there are 15 choices for plant products but only 5 choices for animal products.

Observation 2 – Much of the literature recommends dairy products as a good source of L-arginine yet it’s listed last on the chart.

You would have to drink 44 ounces or just slightly less than 1 ½ quarts of milk to get 1 gram of L-arginine. Not good for those who are lactose intolerant.

Observation 3 – Most research indicates that for you to receive a therapeutic benefit from L-arginine you need to consume at least 5 grams of this amino acid at one time. So I selected 6 food items from the list that I thought would be common food choices. I did the math conversations to look at how much food you would need to eat to take in 5 grams of L-arginine. I also looked at the number of calories and grams of fat it would bring into your body. Here’s what I discovered and what I based most of the above video on:

Peanuts – 6 oz / .36 lb = 918 calories and 70 g of fat

Beans – 12 oz / .75 lb = 338 calories and 1.5 g of fat

Tuna – 10 oz / .63 lb = 528 calories and 18 g of fat

Chicken Breast – 15 oz / .92 lb = 756 calories and 5 g of fat

Salmon – 15 oz / .92 lb = 865 calories and 42 g of fat

Eggs (Whole, Raw) – 21 oz / 1.34 lbs = 915 calories and 55 g of fat

Observation 4 – Now you can see why weight lifters choose beans, tuna, and chicken breasts as their primary source of protein. It provides them with the proper amount of L-arginine with the least number of calories and grams of fat. Even though peanuts have a higher concentration of L-arginine when you factor in calories and grams of fat it’s not the first choice if you need to watch you weight.

How Rocky Balboa Beat Apollo Creed!

Observation 5 – This is the Rocky Balboa observation. Go back and watch the first movie and compare Rocky’s diet to Apollo Creed’s. Remember the scene where Rocky cracks open about a half dozen eggs into a glass and then drinks them raw, yoke and all. Whether he realized it or not (and I’m sure he and Sylvester Stallone didn’t) he was loading his body with L-arginine to improve his blood flow. This maximized his workout program and improved his cardiovascular stamina.

Observation 6 – There is not much of a choice in foods for L-citrulline. Watermelon is your one and only good food choice. You can read my article, “The Need for L-Citrulline!” to get more information on this subject.

When people realize all the food they need to eat, and the limited menu they have to choose from, they begin to ask the question:

Is it better to get these critical amino acids through food or supplementation?

Well, I’m putting the finishing touches on this video and will have it posted in a couple of days.

Together we can work to save a million lives!

Dan Hammer

P.S. Here is the URL for the chart I used in the information above:


Dan Hammer has a background in biology, chemistry and exercise physiology. He used to run one of the largest health club operations in the Chicagoland area and has been helping people with their wellness issues for more than 25 years.

The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only and never as a substitute for professional medical advice or medical exam. The information contained in this article about L-Arginine and L-Citrulline has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease without the supervision of a qualified medical doctor.