Is Rice High in Arginine? (Grain Comparison)


Some research shows that one of the keys to suppressing herpes symptoms like cold sores is to limit the amount of the amino acid arginine in your diet.

Unfortunately, grains are typically relatively high in arginine, including rice.

We’ll look at the exact data in this short post, and compare rice to other grains.

How Much Arginine Does Rice Have?

The amount of arginine in rice will vary based on the type of rice.

For a general picture, let’s consider the data for wild rice in the USDA’s food database. It shows that per 100 grams, rice has:

  • 1.14 grams of arginine (raw)
  • 0.308 grams of arginine (cooked)

Even though a gram doesn’t sound like a lot when it comes to food, it’s a significant amount of a single amino acid.

How Much Lysine Does Rice Have?

When it comes to limiting symptoms like cold sores, arginine isn’t usually considered alone. Most research on this topic shows that not only do you want to limit arginine, you also want to maximize the ratio between lysine and arginine.

In other words, lysine is considered a “good” amino acid in this context, and arginine is “bad.”

That’s why I have a detailed page on the plant-based foods with the best lysine to arginine ratio that you may want to check out after.

Back to rice…

Per 100 gram serving of rice, it has:

  • 0.629 grams of lysine (raw)
  • 0.17 grams of lysine (cooked)

While 0.17 grams of lysine is actually a relatively high amount in plants, it’s not enough to make up for the high amount of arginine.


Rice has a lysine to arginine ratio of about 0.55, which isn’t very good compared to other plants.

Does Rice Have More Arginine Than Other Grains?

In terms of plant-based food, nuts and grains typically have the worst ratio of lysine to arginine.

Let’s look at just the arginine content of grains. All data below is for a raw 100 gram serving (so we can compare flours more fairly).

Food Arginine (g) per 100 g
Quinoa 1.09
Buckwheat groats 0.87
Oats 0.85
Whole wheat flour 0.65
Rice 0.63
Rye grain 0.47
White flour 0.42

Rice is about in the middle of the list.

Not surprisingly, grains with more protein like quinoa and oats naturally have more arginine (since proteins are made from amino acids like arginine).

Whole wheat flour also has more protein than white flour, so it makes sense that it also has more arginine.

But the grains high on this list with more protein also have more lysine.

That’s why it’s important to look at the ratio between lysine and arginine. Once you do that, most grains here have a similar ratio.


Overall, all grains have a relatively high amount of arginine, although rice has less than certain grains like quinoa and oats.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. I've spent over 6 years as a freelance nutrition writer and researcher. During this time, I've tested over 50 vegan protein powders, and over 100 other types of vegan supplements.

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