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What Foods Can Cause Cold Sores?

Avoiding certain foods may help prevent cold sores and/or minimize the duration of an outbreak. Arginine rich, acidic and processed foods can activate a cold sore.

Food demonstration of the Arginine to Lysine Ratio

Control Your Arginine To Lysine Ratio

You may be able to minimize the duration or severity of a cold sore outbreak by avoiding foods rich in Arginine and/or consuming fruits, vegetables and some proteins rich in Lysine. The amino acid Lysine works to inhibit the effects of Arginine, an acid required by the herpes virus to replicate.

Avoid These High Arginine Foods:

  • Chocolate
  • Peanuts
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Flaxseeds
  • Sesame
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Dark leafy greens (ex: Spinach)
  • Whole grains

Eat These High Lysine Foods:

  • Yogurt
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Fruit (ex: grapes, kiwi, pineapple and lemons)
  • Fish
  • Pork Ribs
Click here for further information on the Lysine/Arginine Ratio.

Grapefruit is an example of a highly acidic food.

Avoid Highly Acidic Foods

When you have a open cold sore you must do your best to avoid aggravating it further, minimize your consumption of acidic foods and beverages like:
  • Fruit (ex: pineapple, oranges, grapefruit and other citrus fruits)
  • Tomatoes
  • Fruit juice
  • Wine
  • Soda
  • Salty snack foods (ex: pickles and pretzels)
  • Vinegar-based salad dressings

Avoid Processed Foods

A weak immune system means less defense against the herpes simplex virus and poor nutrition is a common cause of impaired immunity. A balanced diet supports peak immunity, whereas a diet centered on processed and refined food products generally decreases immune system function. Sugar is particularly damaging to immunity because it interferes with your bodies ability to destroy bacteria. Eating sugar-rich processed foods when you have a cold sore may significantly hinder your body’s ability to heal efficiently.

Avoid These Common Processed Foods:

  • Frozen Dinners
  • Ketchup
  • Microwave Popcorn
  • Margarine
  • Fruit Snacks
  • Dried Fruits
  • Instant Ramen
  • Granola Bars
  • Bacon
  • Plus many more...

If you suffer from frequent cold sore outbreaks, it’s best to consume a diet geared toward prevention, rather than simply avoiding certain foods once a fever blister starts. Maintain a healthy diet relatively low in processed foods promotes a strong immune system.