A tray of foods that boost testosterone

10 Foods That Boost Testosterone

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Many of us think of our testosterone as being “the sex hormone.” However, testosterone plays a number of vital roles in the male body, from helping to maintain muscle and bone growth to boosting energy. Which is why keep your levels at the right level is optimal for good health. One easy way to do that: eat enough of the foods that boost testosterone, and limit the amount of foods that can lower it.

But let’s back up for a minute and talk about T. In addition to boosting bones, muscle, and energy, testosterone is also responsible for:

  • producing red blood cells
  • producing sperm
  • maintaining normal brain function, including our mood
  • distributing body fat
  • helping our facial and body hair to grow

That’s quite a checklist for any one hormone to handle. And that’s why it’s so important you do everything you can to ensure your testosterone continues performing as efficiently as possible. For men who are experiencing a significant, clinical decline in normal T levels — called hypogonadism or low testosterone—hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is one of the best solutions available.

But following a sensible diet filled with the necessary nutrients that feed our testosterone as well as ourselves can also help keep your T levels high. What foods increase testosterone? Glad you asked. When you look at the science, these are some of the best testosterone boosting foods:

  • Oysters
  • Ginger
  • Egg Yolks
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Red meat
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Fortified cereals
  • Fatty fish
  • Pomegranates
  • Bananas

Let’s take a deeper dive into each one, and talk about what makes these eats hormone-friendly. We’ll also look at which foods can kill testosterone, so you can limit the amount in your diet, and other ways to boost testosterone naturally.

Related: Just Buy the Vitamix Already

10 Foods That Boost Testosterone

1. Oysters

These magnificent mollusks are loaded with vitamins B12 and D, selenium, copper, manganese and omega-3 fatty acids. Plus, no other food beats an oyster when it comes to containing zinc, one of testosterone’s most important allies.

Zinc is a nutrient that our bodies need but can’t naturally produce. It can bolster our immune system, increase healthy insulin production, support healthy protein and DNA synthesis, reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, and reinforce normal senses of taste and smell. Researchers have proven that it can also help boost testosterone levels (1) as well as improve sperm quality and fertility (2).

A single, 3-oz. serving of cooked, breaded, and fried oysters offers up over 74 milligrams of zinc—over 673 percent of the average daily value.(3) It’s no wonder that oysters are regarded as the king of aphrodisiacs since their high zinc content is also essential for managing our levels of dopamine (4), a hormone that increases our cognitive function, memory, and libido.

Oysters aren’t the only shellfish that can make a positive difference in our hormone levels. The crustacean kind (including shrimp, lobster, crab) and oysters’ fellow mollusks (such as mussels, clams, scallops, and octopi) also provide zinc and other nutrients that more earn their way up the testosterone boosting food chain.

2. Ginger

Ginger’s main ingredient is gingerol, a pungent phenolic compound that fuels ginger’s medicinal mojo. The spice is also rich with antioxidants that can help combat oxidative stress (5), which is often associated with guys with low testosterone.

One published study observed how a group of 75 infertile men, after taking a ginger supplement for three months, experienced a 17 percent increase in their T levels (6). Another documented analysis of how ginger can improve testicular size and function (7) which in turn could bolster sperm quantity and quality. Add in its many other potential health benefits — among them, reducing inflammation and cholesterol levels, digestive issues, and severe joint stiffness — ginger is a food that belongs in every guy’s kitchen.

Worried about low testosterone?

Hone can measure your testosterone levels. If they’re low, physicians can prescribe treatment to boost T and improve symptoms.

3. Egg yolks

The medical community had long believed eggs weren’t all that great, since they’re high in saturated fat and cholesterol. That philosophy has changed over the past 20 years, however, and egg yolks have earned a spot among the healthiest existing food choices.

Egg yolks offer the majority of nutrients found in an egg, including proteins and carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin, which can promote vision and cognitive health. Plus, they’re stacked with Vitamins A, B, E and, of course, D. Remember how cholesterol in eggs used to be frowned upon? It turns out much of that cholesterol synthesizes into vitamin D and hormones, including your testosterone (8). Provided you don’t have any pre-existing cholesterol issues, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy an egg or two each day.

4. Leafy green vegetable

Go green. Not just for the environment, but for your hormones as well. Leafy green vegetables — including spinach, Swiss chard, kale and Romaine lettuce — are dietary dynamos, packed with folate, potassium, fiber, iron, calcium and vitamins A and E.

As for how leafy greens boost your testosterone, they offer plenty of ways. Emerald edibles like kale and collard greens lead the pack in vitamin K content. Vitamin K can promote bone health, protect against osteoporosis (9) and keep body inflammation down, which helps keep your T levels up.

Spinach and Swiss chard are among the leafy leaders of minerals like boron and magnesium. One study reported improved free testosterone levels (10) within a week of taking boron supplements. Another observed increases in total and free T (11) after both sedentary and athletic volunteers took magnesium supplements over a four-week period. (The group of athletes registered greater increases in both levels than the volunteers who, ironically, “vegged out.”)

5. Red meat

Wait, isn’t this a testosterone-killing food? It’s true that a 2020 study (12) reported a “Western” diet consisting of fried foods, processed snacks, high fat and red meat could cause adverse effects on men’s T levels and sperm count. However, it’s also true that there are certain cuts of lean beef that, when consumed in moderation, can actually increase your testosterone.

Though medical experts point out valid concerns that overconsumption can elevate potential risks of cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer, they also point out that red meat is a very valuable source of protein, iron and B12, among many other nutrients we need. Beef liver, for example, is stacked with vitamin D. A 2018 study (13) focusing on supplementing male volunteers with the vitamin showed bolstered testosterone and sexual function.

Red meat, especially steak, also contains leucine, (14) an amino acid that’s valuable in the development, repair, and maintenance of bone and muscle tissue. Let’s not forget zinc, which you’ll find plenty of within cuts of chuck roast and ground beef. Still don’t believe zinc doesn’t play an important role in keeping your hormones balanced? One study reported nearly a 75 percent decrease (15) in male volunteers’ T levels after 20 weeks of following a zinc-restricted diet.

Related: This All-Meat Eating Plan Sounds Too Good To Be True, Because It Is.

6. Extra virgin olive oil

Whereas olive oils are processed and lose most of their nutrients, extra virgin olive oil keeps them intact. Good thing, too—EEVO is filled with polyphenols (16), micronutrients packed with antioxidants that can combat heart disease, cancers, inflammation, and oxidative stress. Research often correlates those latter two ailments with reduced testosterone levels in males.

EEVO is mostly composed of monounsaturated fatty acids. Among several other benefits, “MUFAs” can reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and elevate HDL (good) cholesterol, which we need to convert to testosterone. One study reported that dietary oils like EEVO helped increase their testosterone levels by over 17 percent (17), and their Luteinizing hormone by almost 43 percent.

7. Fortified cereals

Fortified cereals means missing minerals and vitamins have been manually added in order to provide nutritional value. Sometimes they’re disparaged because they can run high in carbs and added sugar. The truth is many fortified cereals can offer greater levels of nutrients than their natural, whole cereal counterparts.

Take those much-maligned carbs, for example. Our bodies need them so they can partially convert into energy for our muscles. One study told researchers that high-carb foods (18) such as fortified cereals, generated higher testosterone levels in their male test subjects. Furthermore, these foods also reduced their levels of cortisol, the “stress hormone.” Many cereals can help boost energy because they’re fortified with B vitamins. This includes vitamin B9, also known as folic acid, which is key to the formation and growth of red blood cells (19).

Many cereals are also fortified with iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamins A, C and D. That last vitamin is noteworthy, since a study (20) revealed concentrations of serum vitamin D were positive predictors of total testosterone. According to the National Institutes of Health (21), fortified foods provide most of the vitamin D in American diets.

8. Fatty fish

 

Both the American Heart Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommend having two to three servings of fish or seafood a week. We suggest cold-water fatty fish like tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, and trout. Besides their quality mineral content, they’re packed with long-chain omega-3s and polyunsaturated fatty acids that are great for our bodies in several ways, including in our production of testosterone.

The two omega-3s within fatty fish are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). They’re great for maintaining and improving heart health (22), and a 2019 article reported their potential effectiveness in treating mood disorders (23). Additional research reveals that DHA can improve men’s sperm quality and production (24).

If you aren’t much of a seafood lover, you can also take omega-3 or DHA-enriched fish oil supplements. Male volunteers taking fish oil in one trial saw an increase in their total testosterone levels (25). If you do enjoy a good fish, though, just keep an eye on your weekly intake; oily fish, as healthy as they can be, also contain some pollutants that can build up in the body.

9. Pomegranates

As far as fruit-bearing shrubs go, the pomegranate can do wonders. Its rich seed content has long symbolized prosperity, community, or fertility in multiple cultures and faiths. Science and medicine, meanwhile, have also seen the light on pomegranates’ nutritional benefits.

Pomegranates contain more than 60 hydrolyzable tannins, many of which account for the fruit’s antioxidant power. As such, pomegranates can help reduce stress as well as the risk of cardiovascular disease, combat viruses, and bacteria (26), and suppress inflammatory arthritis (27). They can also have very potent testosterone boosting capabilities, according to researchers. One study saw pomegranate users enjoy an average 24 percent uptick in T levels (28).

10. Bananas

One question that’s frequently asked is whether or not bananas can lower your testosterone. The answer is clear and backed by science: Bananas don’t lower your T levels; they can actually raise them.

Several of the fruit’s key nutrients and vitamins are major testosterone boosters. One study established how bananas’ chief nutrient, potassium (29) can promote testosterone production and firmer erections. Pyridoxine, more commonly known as vitamin B6 (30), also offers an abundance of benefits, including the release of androgens, which in turn can increase your T production.

Bananas also contain magnesium (11) the benefits of which we explained under leafy green vegetables. And your libidio will appreciate the boost it can receive from bananas’ content of bromelain (31) and tryptophan (32), which can also improve your mood and cognitive function by increasing your secretion of serotonin.

Honestly, the only thing that may be better for your testosterone than having a banana is having a ripe banana, since the ripening can actually increase their nutrient levels.

Foods to Avoid

Just as there are foods that can be great for your hormones, there are some that can be downright harmful. Those include:

Packaged and processed foods

Among the biggest testosterone-killing foods are those that have been processed, meaning they’ve been canned, cooked, frozen, packaged, or had their nutritional content altered or removed. Processing these foods may enhance their taste or give them a longer shelf life, but it can come at a great cost to your body.

Processed foods are filled with trans fats, which multiple studies have associated with inflammation, cardiovascular disease, decreased HDL (good) cholesterol and elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, low testosterone, and decreased fertility (33). How they’re packaged or canned also matters—to protect the food, they’re lined with bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that’s used to create plastics and resins. One study (34), however, found that males exposed to high concentrations of BPA over a six-month period saw a decrease in their free testosterone and an increase in their levels of sex hormone-binding globulin.

Alcohol

Alcohol is another major testosterone killer, as it can adversely affect your hypothalamus, pituitary gland and testes (35). Even worse, researchers note that the effects can be dose-dependent (36)—the more you drink, the more your testosterone and sperm production is likely to suffer.

Sadly, there are plenty of other foods that can lower your T levels. Check out our list of testosterone-killing foods to see what to cut out of your diet.

Related: If You’re Worried About Low T, Read This Before Pouring That Next Drink

Other Ways To Naturally Boost Your Testosterone

Focusing on foods that can help bolster your hormone performance is a great move, but it’s not your only move. If your levels are clinically low, you may want to consider the option of hormone replacement therapy. However, there are other ways you can naturally improve your testosterone, beyond eating foods that boost testosterone.

Minimize stress and cortisol

It may be easier said than done, but teaching yourself ways to relax more can also teach your adrenal glands not to overproduce and release cortisol into your bloodstream. Studies show that over time, too much of the stress hormone blocks other bodily functions (37) that aren’t considered “fight-or-flight” worthy, including testosterone production. Minimizing your stress levels can go a long way toward maximizing your T levels.

Get quality sleep

As a society, we just don’t sleep enough, but the results of a 2014 study (38) proved particularly troubling for men who sleep five hours or less a night. Testosterone levels tend to increase at the onset of sleep and peak during REM (rapid eye movement). Work in at least one extra hour of sleep every night, and your hormones may feel a lot more energized in the morning.

Avoid estrogenic-like foods

Our list of testosterone-killing foods includes a few that fit this description. Various grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables, soybeans, herbs, and liquids contain high amounts of phytoestrogens, plant-based compounds that can mimic estrogen functionality. That can be great for women, but disastrous for men; according to some studies, estrogen-like foods can suppress the release of other hormones needed to synthesize testosterone, and even compromise fertility (39).

Don’t use drugs

There’s always a risk that drugs, whether medicinal or recreational, can negatively impact your testosterone. Those that are medically prescribed, like opioids, statins, or beta-blockers, is one thing, and it’s something you can discuss with your physician if you worry about how they may interact with your hormones. Recreational drug abuse, though, is something you can and should avoid, especially since studies support (40) how much of a factor they can play into Low T and fertility issues.

Losing weight

Researchers have established that being overweight or obese is one of the primary causes of Low T in men. Studies have also shown that losing weight can result in naturally gaining back some testosterone (41). A great way to shed some unwanted pounds is not to “go on a diet”—which is often perceived as a temporary measure—but rather, to change up your daily dietary lifestyle. It’s a big change, but one that can benefit you greatly in the long run.

Related: Lose Weight and Boost Testosterone with a Keto Diet

Exercise more and build more muscle

Diet and exercise go hand-in-hand. Moderate exercise can positively impact so much in your body; it can elevate testosterone and semen levels (42), as well as improve brain function, self-esteem, and mood (43). The most effective type of exercise for men with low testosterone is weight lifting or weight resistance training, as it helps you build muscle mass.

Try natural supplements

There are many nutrients that our body needs but can’t produce naturally, or at least not in high enough quantities. We’ve mentioned a few among our testosterone boosting foods — including vitamins B, C and D, zinc, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids — but there’s quite the list. Studies show that natural supplements like ashwagandha (44), shilajit (45), fenugreek (46), and Mucuna extract (47) are terrific sources of numerous health benefits, not the least of which is giving your T levels a much-welcomed lift.

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