Cold sores are no fun. Those pesky little blisters always seem to show up at the most inopportune times, like right before a big date or an important meeting. But did you know that there are some foods that can help fight cold sores?

That’s right, by incorporating certain foods into your diet, you can help your body battle these unsightly blemishes. Read on to find out the best food to help cold sores heal faster.

Foods that Help with Cold Sores

Vitamin C-rich Foods

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient when it comes to boosting immune system function. It also happens to be one of the most effective nutrients for helping to heal cold sores. Vitamin C works by inhibiting viral replication, which means it helps to prevent the virus from spreading and also helps to speed up the healing process. 

Foods that are high in Vitamin C include citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits, as well as leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach. So next time you feel a cold sore coming on, reach for a glass of orange juice or a handful of spinach to help speed up the healing process.

Vitamin E-rich Foods 

Vitamin E is another nutrient that can help to heal cold sores. Vitamin E works by reducing inflammation and redness, as well as helping to prevent skin damage. Foods that are high in Vitamin E include nuts and seeds, as well as leafy green vegetables like Swiss chard and turnip greens. You can make a delicious salad with these veggies or snack on a handful of nuts for a dose of Vitamin E.

Lysine-rich Foods 

Lysine is an amino acid that has been shown to be effective in reducing the severity and duration of cold sores. Lysine works by blocking the activity of arginine, which is a component of HSV. A diet rich in lysine may help to prevent breakouts or make them less severe. Some good sources of lysine include: 

• fishes such as salmon, trout, and tuna 

• meats such as chicken, turkey, and beef 

• dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese 

• eggs 

• soybeans 

• lentils 

• beans 

• nuts such as almonds and hazelnuts 

• seeds such as pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds 

Anti-inflammatory Foods 

Cold sores are also often accompanied by inflammation. Luckily, there are plenty of anti-inflammatory foods out there that can help reduce swelling. These include fruits like strawberries and blueberries, vegetables like kale and spinach, and even some healthy fats like avocados and olive oil. So load up on these healthy goodies if you’re looking to get rid of those cold sores for good! 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids work against cold sores in two ways. First, they help to reduce inflammation by inhibiting the production of inflammatory substances called prostaglandins. Second, they boost immunity by increasing the activity of immune cells called macrophages, which helps your body to fight off viral infections more effectively. You can get omega-3 fatty acids from eating fish such as salmon, tuna, and trout; from taking a fish oil supplement; or from eating flaxseeds or chia seeds. 

Zinc-rich Foods

Zinc is a mineral that plays a role in many different aspects of health, including immunity and wound healing. Studies have shown that zinc can help to shorten the duration of a cold sore outbreak and can also reduce the frequency with which they occur. Foods that are high in zinc include oysters, beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, and yogurt.

Alkalizing Foods

A diet that is high in acid-forming foods has been linked to an increased incidence of cold sores. This is because the Herpes Simplex Virus (which causes cold sores) thrives in an acidic environment.

To help create a more alkaline environment in your body, consume plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens like spinach and kale. Other good alkalizing foods include nuts and beans. 

What Foods Typically Trigger Cold Sore Outbreaks?

Heavily Processed Foods

One of the most common triggers of cold sore outbreaks is heavily processed foods. These foods are often high in sugar and saturated fat, which can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to illness.

Highly processed foods can also cause inflammation, which can trigger an outbreak. If you’re trying to prevent cold sore outbreaks, it’s best to avoid highly processed foods as much as possible.

Added Sugar

Another common trigger of cold sore outbreaks is added sugar. Consuming too much sugar can interfere with your immune system and make you more susceptible to illness. Sugar can also cause inflammation, which can lead to an outbreak. If you have frequent cold sore outbreaks, it’s best to limit your intake of added sugar. 


Chocolate is another common trigger for cold sores. Chocolate contains an amino acid called L-arginine, which can promote the growth of the Herpes Simplex Virus. If you love chocolate but find that it exacerbates your cold sores, opt for dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. Dark chocolate has a lower ratio of L-arginine to other amino acids and is, therefore, less likely to trigger an outbreak. 

Coffee and Tea

Coffee and tea both contain caffeine, which can cause dehydration. Dehydration is a common trigger for cold sores because it weakens the immune system. If you’re susceptible to cold sores, stick to decaffeinated coffee and tea or limit your intake of caffeinated beverages. 

Spicy Foods

Spicy foods can irritate the lips and cause inflammation. Inflammation is another trigger for cold sores because it weakens the immune system. If you find that spicy foods tend to trigger your cold sores, try milder spices or avoid them altogether. 


Cold sores can be a nuisance, but you don’t have to suffer from them forever. By avoiding common triggers and eating plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, zinc-rich foods, alkalizing foods, and avoiding processed food and added sugar, you can help prevent future outbreaks.

With a little bit of effort, you can keep your cold sores under control and enjoy life to the fullest. You can also check our article on Are Tablets For Cold Sores Effective?

We hope that this article on the best food to help cold sores heal faster has helped you to understand the importance of eating healthy foods for cold sore prevention and healing. Remember, a balanced diet is a key to managing your symptoms and helping to keep cold sores at bay. Best of luck!​