Foods That Trigger Cold Sores

Cold sores are embarrassing bumps around the mouth, which many people get from time to time. According to the website Whole Health MD, the true cause of cold sores is the herpes simplex virus, which can lie dormant in a person's body for years. Some people use antiviral medications in pill or cream form to suppress or speed the healing of cold sores. Yet, eating the wrong foods can trigger cold sore outbreaks, making medications less effective.

Lysine to Arginine Ratio

The lysine to arginine ratio compares how much lysine there is compared to arginine in a food product. Both are amino acids, yet lysine reduces cold sores while arginine triggers them. San Diego Homeopathy states that the lower the lysine to arginine ratio, the greater the chance the specific food will cause cold sore outbreaks.

Wheat Bread

According to Whole Health MD, arginine triggers the replication of the herpes simplex virus and therefore influences the development of cold sores. Wheat bread is healthy for many people, since it contains fiber, vitamins and minerals. Yet, San Diego Homeopathy also states that wheat is full of arginine. There is about 169 mg of arginine in a small 28 g serving of wheat granules. Eating sandwiches with wheat bread often can trigger frequent cold sores.


Nuts, like almonds, are particularly known to cause herpes outbreaks around the mouth. Almonds have a low lysine to arginine ratio of 0.26 according to San Diego Homeopathy.

Grape Juice

One of the worst beverages for anyone who is prone to getting cold sores is grape juice. San Diego Homeopathy explains that it contains only about 25 mg of lysine, but contains 119 mg of arginine in a cup, giving it a lysine to arginine ratio of 0.21. This is because red grapes in particular, are full of arginine. Foods that are high in sugar can also attribute to cold sores, states Whole Health MD. Vegetable juices, water and teas are much better choices for those with the herpes virus.

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter can also trigger cold sore outbreaks, since it contains more arginine than lysine in it. Whether it is natural peanut butter or processed, most peanut butters have a lysine to arginine ratio of about 0.2, states San Diego Homeopathy. People with the herpes simplex virus should avoid eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or dipping foods in peanut butter. Sandwiches with meat and cheese are a safer option for those prone to cold sores.

Load comments

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.