Animal and Plant Protein – Lysine and Arginine

Lysine is an indispensable dietary amino acid for all vertebrates and is required for protein synthesis. 1

The arginine requirement is influenced by many factors that vary between species. There is an antagonism that can occur between lysine and arginine in some species where excessive intakes of one of these amino acids will adversely affect the metabolism of the other amino acid thereby increasing its requirement.

Lysine is a dietary indispensable amino acid.

Lysine is the first limiting amino acid in most grain and cereal-based diets so it also defines the protein required to meet the amino acid requirements.

David Kritchevsky was one of the early investigators of the relationship of cholesterol and heart disease in the 1950s. He linked different types of proteins to heart disease, determining that protein of animal origin leads to an increase of cholesterol in the blood. 2 3

Casein is a protein found in all milk from mammals.

The addition of lysine to soy protein, sufficient to change its normal lysine/arginine ratio to that of casein, significantly increases its atherogenicity.

Addition of arginine to casein to lower its lysine/arginine ratio to that of soy protein decreases its atherogenicity.

Foods high in lysine include meat, poultry, fish, cheese, yoghurt and eggs. Wheat and oats are relatively low in lysine.

Another 1997 study suggests that low lysine diets as measured by the low lysine to arginine ratio “exert hypocholesterolemic effects”. 4

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Ball, R. O., Urschel, K. L., & Pencharz, P. B. (2007). Nutritional Consequences of Interspecies Differences in Arginine and Lysine Metabolism. Journal of Nutrition, 137.
  2. Kritchevsky, D. (1990). Protein and Atherosclerosis. Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, 36(5), 81–86.
  3. Kritchevsky, D., Tepper, S. A., Czarnecki, S. K., & Klurfeld, D. M. (1982). Atherogenicity of animal and vegetable protein: Influence of the lysine to arginine ratio. Atherosclerosis, 41(2–3), 429–431.
  4. Rajamohan, T., & Kurup, P. (1997). Lysine: Arginine ratio of a protein influences cholesterol metabolism. Part 1—Studies on sesame protein having low lysine: Arginine ratio. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology, 35(11), 1218–1223.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


Search Help

WHO’s Recommendations

WHO's recommendations on saturated fat are out of date, expert team says.
However, the study has been funded by the dairy and beef industries.
Discover how industry-funded research is deceiving the public.