The 9 Best & Worst Foods For Healthy Testosterone Levels, According to a Dietitian – EatingWell

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Testosterone is a hormone that is important for many physiological functions in every person’s body. Optimizing testosterone levels through a nutrient-rich diet not only supports hormonal balance but can significantly enhance quality of life, including energy levels and libido in some cases. Wondering which foods may help support balanced testosterone? We rounded up some popular picks for healthy hormones.

Understanding Testosterone

Testosterone is a key player in the development of the penis, testes, and the prostate gland. In smaller amounts, it also contributes to ovarian function and influences overall health, according to the Society for Endocrinology

After predominantly being produced in the testes or the ovaries in, testosterone circulates in the blood where the hormone has an effect on various systems in the body. For example, in muscles, testosterone promotes protein synthesis, and in bones, it stimulates the production of bone-building cells to strengthen your skeleton, according to StatPearls. Testosterone also influences mood and energy levels.

Age is a major determinant of testosterone levels, notes StatPearls. Testosterone tends to peak in the mid to late 20s with a noticeable decrease around age 40 and a significant drop during menopause, when there are also reductions in the hormones estrogen and progesterone. 

Lifestyle factors can influence testosterone levels. Regular, moderate exercise, stress management and adequate sleep can support healthy levels of this hormone, says Justin J. Houman, M.D., a California-based urologist. Your diet can play a role, too. Learn about the foods to eat—and skip—for healthy testosterone levels:

Best Foods for Low Testosterone

1. Oysters

Don’t be shy about ordering up a dozen. “Oysters can positively impact testosterone levels due to their high zinc content, essential for testosterone production and [sperm] fertility,” Houman says. These tasty mollusks supply a natural source of healthy fats and high-quality protein to support testosterone. Try our Oysters Rockefeller for a satisfying way to enjoy these delicacies.

2. Fatty Fish and Fish Oil

Fatty fish and fish oil benefit testosterone production primarily because they are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. The anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3s found in fish oil help promote hormonal balance. Enjoy dishes like our Crispy Hot Honey Salmon Bites or Garlic-Anchovy Pasta with Broccolini for an omega-3 boost. If you don’t eat fish regularly, consider taking a fish oil supplement that contains DHA and EPA omega-3s.

3. Legumes

Legumes, including beans, lentils and chickpeas, are another valuable addition to a diet aimed at boosting testosterone levels. They are a natural source of both protein and fiber, crucial elements for hormonal balance and overall health. Specifically, these plant-based proteins are rich in D-aspartic acid, an amino acid that plays a key role in the production and release of testosterone, according to research in PLOS One in 2017. Furthermore, many legumes are high in magnesium, a mineral that quells testosterone-reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, according to research in Nutrients in 2021.

4. Dark Leafy Greens

Time to load up on dark leafy greens. Vegetables like spinach, kale and Swiss chard are loaded with testosterone-friendly magnesium. These greens also pack vitamins A, C and E, antioxidants that help safeguard cells in the body from damage, including those that produce testosterone. Furthermore, the nitrates found in these vegetables enhance blood circulation, which can also help boost sexual health.

5. Flaxseed

Flaxseed is known for its rich content of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid, per the National Institutes of Health. Beyond omega-3s, flaxseed is a fantastic source of dietary fiber and lignans, plant compounds that have antioxidant qualities. Our Strawberry-Banana Green Smoothie is made with flaxseed, allowing for an easy way to include this nutritional powerhouse in your diet.

6. Eggs

Eggs, particularly the yolks, are another formidable ally in maintaining healthy testosterone levels. They are a source of vitamin D, cholesterol and saturated fats, all of which play vital roles in the synthesis of testosterone. Vitamin D, often dubbed the “sunshine vitamin,” has been directly linked to higher testosterone levels, per a review in Clinical Therapeutics in 2020. Most of the fat found in eggs is unsaturated, heart-healthy fat. Plus, according to the American Heart Association, healthy people can include eggs in a heart-smart diet. Enjoy our Sun-Dried Tomato & Feta Egg Bites.

Worst Foods for Low Testosterone

1. Licorice

Licorice, scientifically known as Glycyrrhiza glabra, is perhaps mostly used for its sweet root, which is a primary ingredient in traditional black licorice candy. While many modern licorice products don’t use real licorice in their recipes, there are some brands that continue to use this root. 

Azzaro says that licorice may be linked to lower testosterone levels. She notes that licorice may also raise blood pressure and interact with many medications, so eat it with caution and check with your doctor before including it in your diet if you are focused on lowering your testosterone.

2. Alcohol

If you consume alcohol, drinking it in moderation is your best bet. “Moderate to high alcohol intake can decrease testosterone over time,” Houman explains. Alcohol may induce changes in the endocrine system and affect the testes. Chronic or heavy drinking poses a significant risk to hormonal health and overall well-being. Instead of consuming alcohol, try one of our easy mocktail ideas.

3. Foods Made with Trans Fats

Both Houman and Azzaro note that consuming trans fats is not ideal for those who want to increase their testosterone. Trans fats are primarily found in partially hydrogenated oils, a type of industrial fat. The Food and Drug Administration has banned food companies from using artificial trans fats, but small amounts may still be found in items like snack foods, prepackaged desserts and fried foods. “While the occasional fried food may not have much impact, we shouldn’t be making fried foods a large or frequent part of our diet,” explained Azzaro.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Symptoms of Low Testosterone?

If you have low testosterone, you may experience symptoms such as reduced libido, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, decreased muscle mass and strength, increased body fat, mood swings, difficulty concentrating and reduced bone density, says Houman.

What Happens If My Testosterone Is Low?

Low testosterone levels in men can lead to symptoms like decreased muscle mass, fatigue and a diminished sex drive. In women, low testosterone may cause symptoms such as a decreased sense of well-being, fatigue and fertility issues. Low testosterone als results in an increased risk of osteoporosis and muscle weakness as a result of low testosterone levels.

What Foods Increase Testosterone the Most?

Foods high in zinc, magnesium and healthy fats are known to naturally boost testosterone levels. Oysters, a rich source of zinc, have been regarded as an aphrodisiac and are beneficial for testosterone production. Leafy greens like spinach and kale, high in magnesium, also play a crucial role in enhancing testosterone levels. Additionally, avocados, rich in healthy fats, and foods like salmon, which provide vitamin D, are essential for maintaining optimal testosterone levels.

How Can I Raise My Testosterone Level?

To naturally raise testosterone levels, integrating a balanced diet and regular physical activity is fundamental. Focusing on foods rich in zinc, magnesium and healthy fats, such as oysters, leafy greens, avocados and fatty fish, can significantly support hormonal health. Lastly, getting exercise, ensuring adequate sleep and managing stress through mindfulness or relaxation techniques can further optimize testosterone production.

The Bottom Line

Maintaining healthy testosterone levels is crucial for overall well-being, playing a vital role in muscle strength, bone density and libido. Your diet significantly impacts these levels, with certain foods either promoting or inhibiting testosterone production. Nutrients such as zinc, found in oysters and beans, and vitamin D, abundant in fatty fish and egg yolks, are essential for sustaining optimal testosterone levels. Conversely, excessive consumption of ultra-processed foods and alcohol can lead to a decline in these levels, affecting both physical and mental health.

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