Is Coffee High in Arginine? (An Important Read)

Without question, coffee is one of the world’s most popular caffeinated beverages. With so many variations, this versatile drink has something to suit anyone’s taste. It’s also packed with antioxidants and many essential nutrients that are important for our body.

Short Answer: One of coffee’s essential nutrients is arginine – a type of amino acid that helps in protein production in the body- but only a small amount remains after the roasting process.

In this post, we’ll take a long look at arginine – one of the many substances found in coffee, to learn what it is, what it does to our body, and whether it’s beneficial or harmful. So let’s get started.

What is arginine?

In simple words, arginine, also known as L-arginine is an amino acid that our body produces naturally. It can be found in protein-rich foods such as red meat, poultry, fish, soy, eggs to name a few.

People suffering from protein deficiency, burns, and infections can benefit from taking arginine as a dietary supplement in dosages of 2-3 grams three times a day.

However, if you are taking any medications, you should see your doctor before taking an arginine supplement because it may interact adversely with your existing medication.

What does arginine do in your body?

Blood diluting in water.

Our bodies require a variety of nutrients to function properly throughout the day, including carbohydrates, proteins, sugars, and other essential minerals. Arginine is one of these nutrients that is vital to our bodies.

Though most of the required arginine is produced by our body itself, it can also be found in several other foods. But what is the purpose of arginine in our body?

Arginine is used by our bodies for a variety of functions.

It helps in building protein which is essential for healing wounds and repairing the wear and tear of the body. Arginine also dilates the blood vessels through which any blockages in the vessels could be removed ensuring better blood flow.

Arginine also helps in removing waste from the kidneys.

Furthermore, it can also be used orally in many medications to treat many health problems including:

  • Angina – According to experts, arginine is found to be beneficial in relieving mild to severe chest pain in patients with angina while helping in improving blood flow at the same time.
  • Hypertension – Ingesting arginine orally can also help in lowering high blood pressure in patients with hypertension.
  • High blood pressure during pregnancy – High blood pressure during pregnancy can be highly dangerous to the fetus. This can be harmful to both the mother’s and the baby’s health, and it can even lead to miscarriages. regnant women who have high blood pressure can take arginine orally after consulting with their doctor, as it aids in lowering blood pressure.
  • Erectile Dysfunction –  Arginine can also improve male sexual function.
  • PAD (peripheral arterial disease) – Patients having PAD can take arginine orally or by infusion to help improve their blood flow.

Knowing the diseases that can be treated with arginine, it’s also important to understand that arginine is not good for people who have the following:

  • Has had a recent heart attack
  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Herpes
  • Cold sores

Does coffee have arginine?

a tip view of a cup of coffee and a teaspoon.

Green coffee beans or raw coffee contain arginine naturally, but its levels decrease when the coffee beans are roasted.

Coffee in its raw form does contain arginine. It also contains cellulose, chlorogenic acid, and sucrose which all get reduced after the coffee is roasted for about 4 minutes at 240 degrees Celsius. Coffee also contains tannins, a polyphenolic compound responsible for the dark brown colors of coffee. You can read more about that here if you’re interested.

A cup of instant coffee contains approximately 44 milligrams of arginine, while brewed coffee contains approximately 200 milligrams of arginine. As you can see, the arginine content of coffee isn’t particularly high.

To avoid unpleasant side effects such as nausea, bloating, and diarrhea, limit your daily arginine intake to less than 9 grams. Arginine levels in fish, red meat, dairy, grains, poultry, beans, and nuts are higher than in coffee.

Under normal conditions, our bodies produce a certain amount of arginine. Arginine’s two primary functions are protein synthesis and circulation facilitation.

Health benefits of arginine

The following are some of the health benefits that can be obtained by consuming arginine in the recommended dosage:

  • Improve athletic performance by boosting nitric oxide and oxygenation to muscles.
  • Manage illnesses such as necrotizing enterocolitis in infants, burns, wounds, and in the treatment of post-surgical trauma patients.
  • Regulate high blood pressure.
  • Improve insulin sensitivity and blood glucose control in diabetic patients.
  • Alleviate angina symptoms and related pain.
  • Treat erectile dysfunction.
  • Help treat preeclampsia during pregnancy.

Side-effects of overdosing arginine

Arginine is safe only if taken in the recommended dosage. Excessive consumption may cause the following side effects:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Stomach pain
  • Increase risk of bleeding
  • Bloating
  • Fluctuating blood sugar levels
  • Diarrhea
  • Imbalance of potassium

Precautions while consuming arginine

You should completely avoid the consumption of arginine if you have the following:

  • Liver and kidney disease
  • Guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiency (GAMT) – a disorder affecting arginine metabolism in the body.
  • Have low blood pressure
  • Asthma
  • Cirrhosis of the liver

Arginine can interact with certain medicines for:

capsules in orange and white coming out of a prescription bottle.
  • Diabetes
  • Blood pressure
  • Blood thinners
  • Increase blood flow
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Diuresis

If you are taking medications for any of these issues, you must take extra caution when you orally take arginine.

Foods high In arginine

Many foods contain naturally high levels of arginine. Chicken, beef, turkey, nuts, and dairy are among them.

Arginine is used by our bodies to perform several important functions. As previously stated, the majority of the arginine required by our body is produced naturally within us.

However, many other foods contain arginine and can help us fulfill our arginine needs if our body’s arginine levels are low.

Keep in mind that our bodies require 2 to 3 grams of arginine 3x a day. Though this amount can vary depending on a person’s health and activity level, it’s the most commonly recommended dose.

Beef is a good source of arginine. Red meats have been found to have tons of arginine in them. So if your body is lacking this essential protein, be sure to add a good amount of beef to your diet to fulfill your arginine requirement.

Aside from beef, turkey and chicken are also high in arginine. Furthermore, consuming dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese will provide you with other essential minerals and vitamins that your body requires to stay healthy.

Finally, arginine is abundant in nuts like pecans, walnuts, and almonds. As a result, consuming a handful of them daily is ok.

The arginine level and quantity of foods high in arginine are listed in the table below.

FoodsQuantityArginine Amount
Beef1 pound4.131 grams
Chicken1 cup2.7 grams
Turkey1 breast16.2 grams
Milk1 cup0.2 grams
Cheddar Cheese4 ounce0.25 grams
Walnuts1 cup4.52 grams
Almonds1 cup3.25 grams

You can learn more about arginine-rich foods by watching this video.

Final Thoughts

We’re all aware that coffee contains a myriad of health benefits. One such required nutrient is arginine, which is a protein or amino acid that aids our bodies in a variety of important functions like improving our blood flow, helping in wound healing, and removing wastes in our kidneys.

Although unroasted coffee beans contain arginine, their levels are depleted when they’re roasted. That means that the coffee we drink does not contain high amounts of arginine.

The good news is that coffee helps our bodies produce more nitric oxide. When we consume arginine, our bodies convert it into chemicals which include nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps in relaxing our blood vessels and improves blood circulation.

Though our bodies produce arginine, we can also get it from foods such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy, and even nuts. However, you should consume these in moderation to avoid the potential side effects that can take place if you overdo them.


Caffeine aficionado and coffee student (if there's such a thing!). I've come to love coffee in recent years and share what I learn along the way on this website.

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