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30 Vegan Foods High In Lysine: The Most Efficient Sources

By reading this article you will find out what the best lysine sources are for vegans and people who stick to a plant-based diet, as well as lysine health benefits, backed by science.
Jyothi Shenoy, MD, MBA

Written by Jyothi Shenoy, MD, MBA. Updated on December 17, 2022.

Lysine is a form of an essential amino acid that has been reported to offer several benefits, including improved blood sugar control, increased collagen synthesis, anxiety and stress management, and faster wound healing.

However, our bodies cannot produce lysine on their own. Hence, we must get it from our diet or supplements.

Depending on what you’re utilizing lysine for, different dosages are advised. The usual recommended daily intake for lysine is 1,000 mg.

If you prefer a more precise dosage recommendation, you should try to consume 5.5 mg of lysine per pound of body weight (12 mg per kilogram of body weight).

In this article, we will share the best plant lysine sources for vegans and people who stick to a plant-based diet.

After finding out the best vegan lysine sources, you can read about the evidence-backed benefits of lysine and how it can protect you against several diseases.

Vegan Lysine Food Sources

Although non-vegan products such as eggs, fish, meat, and dairy are best known for their high lysine content, fortunately, there are plenty of plant-based sources as well.

Vegan foods that provide a high amount of lysine include:

  • Seaweeds: Spirulina, laver, wakame, etc
  • Vital wheat gluten: Most commonly used to make seitan
  • Soy and soy products: Soy, edamame, various tofu types, tempeh
  • Legumes: Lentils, beans, chickpeas, peanuts, etc
  • Nuts: Pistachio, cashew, almonds, brazil nut
  • Seeds: Pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flaxseed, sesame seeds, etc
  • Leafy greens: Spinach, watercress, Swiss chard, etc
  • Grains: Oats, buckwheat groats, rye, etc

We’ve ranked high-lysine food sources in two ways:

  1. Lysine content per 100 grams
  2. Lysine content pre 100 kcal

Plant-Based Lysine Food Sources per 100 g

In the following table, you can find the 30 foods with the highest amount of lysine per 100 grams.

FoodLysine per 100 grams
Seaweed (dried)3.03
Pumpkin seeds1.39
Hemp seeds1.28
Pistachio nuts1.14
Vital wheat gluten1.05
Chia seeds0.97
Black beans0.61
Buckwheat groats0.60
Kidney beans0.59
Sesame seeds0.57
Adzuki beans0.57
Pine nuts0.54
Navy beans0.52
Brazil nut0.49
Mung bean0.49
Fava bean0.49
Lima beans0.45
Rye grain0.29

Plant-Based Lysine Food Sources per 100 kcal

People often prefer a list ranked by the energy foods provide, and find these lists more actionable and useful.

That’s why we created a list of 30 lysine-rich foods, ranked by 100 calories this time.

FoodLysine (g) per 100 kcal
Adzuki beans0.44
Kidney beans0.47
Vital wheat gluten0.28
Black beans0.46
Mung bean0.47
Buckwheat groats0.17
Navy beans0.37
Pumpkin seeds0.31
Fava beans0.44
Lima beans0.37
Pistachio nuts0.20
Rye grain0.08
Swiss chard0.52
Sesame seeds0.10
Hemp seeds0.23
Pine nuts0.08
Brazil nut0.07
White potato0.13
Chia seeds0.20

What is Lysine?

Lysine is one of the essential amino acids the body needs to perform several functions. It acts as a building block for the synthesis of protein.

Lysine plays an important role in the normal growth and development of the body. It also promotes muscle turnover and helps to transport fats across the cells to be used as energy.

Lysine is considered an essential amino acid as the body cannot make it, and hence, we need to obtain it from food.
There are 2 chemical versions of lysine including L-lysine and D-lysine.

Among these, it is L-lysine that is specifically important for our health. It is the bioactive form of lysine, which is found in foods and used more efficiently by the body.

Most of the health benefits of lysine are associated with L-lysine.

Lysine Health Benefits

Here are some impressive benefits of lysine that are backed by scientific studies.

Improves Mental Health

Studies have revealed that lysine can be used to reduce mental stress and anxiety and improve mental health. It is believed to work by blocking the response of the cellular receptors to stressful events.

This means it can modify the response of the body to stressful situations by altering the activities of the receptors on the cells. This can reduce the impact of stress and anxiety on mental as well as physical health.

For example; eating a diet rich in plant-based natural sources of lysine could relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) by reducing the incidences of stress-induced irregular or loose bowel movements.

Lysine would help to restore healthy bowel functions and enable patients to carry on with their routine activities without worrying about having unpredictable bouts of loose motions that tend to come up every time they experience stress or anxiety.

Supports Calcium Absorption

Lysine might help in improving the absorption of calcium in the body.

This means an adequate intake of lysine can ensure the calcium in the foods you eat or the supplements you use would be more efficiently absorbed into the body thereby improving the bioavailability of this vital nutrient.

Moreover, lysine can also help the body hold or retain its calcium reserves. It is believed to work by improving the functions of the kidneys and reducing the elimination of calcium from the body via urine.

This can improve the total calcium reserves in the body and reduce the risk of bone and teeth disorders linked to the deficiency of this nutrient.

This is why; men and women who are likely to develop bone health disorders such as osteoporosis and osteopenia due to the lack of adequate calcium supply should never ignore the lysine content in their diet.

Increases Collagen Synthesis

Lysine is needed by the body for the synthesis of collagen. Collagen is a form of protein that forms a major part of the structural matrix of the skin and several other tissues of the body, especially during wound healing.

Lysine, being a building block for protein, can support the formation of collagen, and thus, improve skin health and promote wound healing mechanisms.

Lysine tends to become more active at the site of wounds and helps to speed up the repair processes.

This can allow the wounds to heal within a shorter duration and reduce the risk of infections, scar formation, and other possible complications linked to delayed healing.

Moreover, lysine may also serve as a binding agent, thus increasing the number of new cells at the wound.

It can also promote the formation of new blood vessels. This means it can improve the supply of proteins and other healing nutrients to the site of injury thus reducing the healing time further.

Similarly, lysine can also promote the formation of collagen in the skin and bones.

Collagen acts as a base or foundation for the creation of a tissue matrix or scaffold that provides strength and structure to the skin and bones.

This effect of lysine can help to reduce wrinkles and fine lines that tend to appear on the skin as a result of the loss of collagen due to aging.

Protects Against Cold Sores

Lysine has the ability to reduce the risk of cold sores by blocking the activities of a compound called arginine.

Cold sores are fever blisters that commonly occur due to an infection, usually appearing on the corners of the mouth or lips.

These lesions typically appear as fluid-filled blisters causing immense pain, discomfort, tingling, and burning. They can also make you feel conscious about your appearance.

Infection due to herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) is a common cause of cold sores.

The virus tends to hide in our spine and stay dormant for several years. In times of stress or when your immune system is compromised or weakened, HSV-1 can get activated and trigger the development of cold sores.

Studies have revealed that lysine can help inhibit the replication of HSV-1 and thus, reduce the duration of cold sores.

Lysine can also block the action of another amino acid known as arginine that is needed by the HSV-1 for multiplication.

This marks the need to adopt a diet rich in natural food sources containing lysine to reduce your risk of painful cold sores caused due to HSV-1 infection.


There are many great and healthy plant-based food sources of lysine that are vegan-friendly.

Some of the vegan foods high in lysine include seaweeds, seitan, soy and soy products, legumes, nuts, seeds, oats, and others.

Lysine offers several benefits that range from reducing anxiety to preventing cold sores and promoting wound healing.

Without an adequate supply of lysine, your body might lose its ability to heal the damaged tissues or resist the development of wrinkles and fine lines.

This emphasizes the importance of ensuring your diet comprises an adequate amount of lysine in order to derive the benefits of this nutrient and protect yourself against a range of potential consequences.

How we ensure this article is accurate?
  1. It's written and or reviewed by an expert.
  2. We cite relevant studies and trusted sources.
  3. It's regularly updated.

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