Healing Kitchen

Cold Sores

Diet helps reduce frequency, duration, and severity of cold sores. A lysine-rich/arginine-poor diet is common for managing herpes simplex virus (HSV) infections, the underlying cause of cold sores. The theory is that arginine-rich proteins are required for HSV replication and have specific biochemical actions in HSV reactions. Studies suggest that lysine has antiviral properties because of its interference in arginine metabolism, so lysine-rich foods are recommended. Foods high in lysine with a good lysine/arginine ratio are cheese, eggs, chicken, milk, lima beans, fish, potatoes, brewer's yeast, and soy products. Foods with the worst arginine/lysine ratio are chocolate, peanuts, almonds, seeds, cereal grains, gelatin, carob, and raisins.

Immune-enhancing nutrients are important tools for battling cold sores. Beta-carotene, vitamin C, flavonoids, zinc, and selenium are vital nutrients for managing cold sores. Because of their lignan content, ground flaxseeds, soybeans, and legumes may also be protective against cold sores.

We believe that it's possible to manage and/or improve certain conditions through what you eat. When we create "Mega-Recipes" for an ailment, we strive to include the maximum number of the nutrients that are shown to have benefit for that ailment. We also expect the Mega-Recipe to contain at least 25% of recommended intakes for those nutrients. See the list of recipes that have met our criteria for this ailment.

What You Should Eat & Why


Flavonoids work with Vitamin C to protect against cold sores by eliminating naturally occurring free radicals and by boosting the immune system.
Leading Food Sources of flavonoids: Broccoli, Carrots, Blueberries, Grapefruit, white, Apples, Oranges, Chocolate, Pomegranates, Limes, Soybeans, Lemons, Tomatoes, Onions

Lysine helps suppress the growth of HSV-1. Over the long-term, lysine may help prevent new cold sores.
Leading Food Sources of lysine: Chicken, Turkey, Cheese, fresh, Soy products, Soybeans, Eggs, Milk, Fish, lean, Beef, Potatoes

vitamin C
As a powerful antioxidant, vitamin C may help to control cold sores by mopping up cell-damaging free radicals. Vitamin C also increases the immune system's power to fight the virus that causes cold sores (typically,the herpes simplex type 1 virus).
Leading Food Sources of vitamin C: Cabbage, red, Strawberries, Potatoes, Oranges, Tangerines & other mandarins, Peppers, bell, red, Kiwi fruit

Clinical studies suggest that zinc is effective against cold sores. In vitro, zinc has demonstrated inhibition against HSV replication. Researchers believe, however, that the efficacy in people is probably related to zinc's ability to enhance a specific immune process called cell-mediated immunity.
Leading Food Sources of zinc: Barley, Turkey, Crab, Oysters, Beef, Lamb, Wheat, Chicken

Date Published: 05/03/2005
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