food on the table

Best Guide For Foods That Increase & Decrease Testosterone

Your testosterone levels are dropping—right now.

This all-important male hormone—which drives your libido, erection firmness, and energy levels—declines throughout your entire adult years.

You could just ignore it, but then you would deny yourself of the vitality and quality of life you deserve.

While pills and supplements undoubtedly help—making small changes to your lifestyle can have a remarkably positive effect.

This article explains how selecting foods that increase testosterone can restore your mojo.

How Many Men Experience Low Testosterone?

Suffering from low testosterone is surprisingly common.

The main issue lies in the fact that as we get older, our testosterone levels (T-levels) are constantly on the decline. Scientists have discovered that after the age of 30, our reserves drop at the rate of one percent every year.1

Light Bulb IconHowever, by the time we reach our 50s—this reduction escalates rapidly—leading men to possess half the amount of testosterone that they did at their teenage peak.2

But, one of the most alarming factors—is that this trend is worsening around the world. Thirty years ago, men on average possessed 17 percent more testosterone than those of the same age today.3

The statistics are concerning. 

Currently, experts believe that four to five million men in the US suffer from low T-levels—with an astounding 43 percent of men over 65 with this condition.4 5

Why Do We Need Testosterone?

Before I detail the foods that increase testosterone—let me tell you why this hormone is vital.

The truth is—if you want to be a man, you need testosterone.Man icon

It’s what separates us from the women. Your genitalia, body hair, and deep voice are all the result of testosterone surging through your veins.6 7

However, it wasn’t just the driving force behind puberty. Throughout your adult life, you require this primary male hormone for healthy physiological function—and, to maintain your “manhood”.8

Here’s why it’s crucial.

Libido

Testosterone is the powerhouse behind your sex drive. 

Research shows that men with low testosterone counts (T-counts) have a lower libido than those without. Hence, eating foods that increase testosterone can reignite your bedroom activities.9

Strong Bones

Experts have shown that the older we become, the more likely we are to incur a bone fracture or break.10

Testosterone elevates bone density—protecting against day-to-day mishaps or sporting injuries.11

Body Fat

Consuming foods that increase testosterone can, ironically, prevent against fat gain.Body fat icon

Scientists explain that adequate T-levels can prevent fat accumulation—especially around the abdomen. Furthermore, testosterone encourages fat loss through the process of lipolysis.12

Energy

If your T-levels drop to low—energy levels fall.13

This may be due to testosterone’s ability to raise serotonin—a hormone which induces a feeling of well-being and vitality.14

Muscle Growth

Enjoying foods that increase testosterone also helps to heighten muscle mass.

Excercise IconThe primary male hormone is the fuel behind muscle protein synthesis—the process by which muscles repair and grow.15

Erections

Not only does testosterone increase sexual desire—but it also elevates performance.

Research shows that it promotes enzymes which stimulate erections and enhances blood delivery into the penis.16

Fertility and Sperm Volume

If you’re planning on having offspring—eat foods that increase testosterone.

Studies illustrate that heightening T-levels has the effect of raising sperm quality, volume, fertility, and motility.17

Mood

As mentioned, testosterone boosts the production of the “happy hormone” serotonin.

Happy Man IconClinical papers have demonstrated that raising T-levels has the effect of alleviating depression when compared to a placebo.18

Anti-Estrogen

In addition to the male sex hormone, you also have the female version too—estrogen.

Within male physiology, it’s responsible for ensuring healthy bone mass.19

Testosterone keeps estrogen in check—ensuring that it doesn’t become too powerful within the body. However, if T-levels drop, estrogen can have the upper hand—promoting female characteristics such as water retention, fat gain, and gynecomastia (man-breasts).20

Including foods that increase testosterone in your diet can prevent you from becoming feminized.

Strength

Dumbell IconAlthough a stereotype—as men, we want to be strong.

In addition to boosting muscle growth, scientists have also revealed that testosterone increases strength levels.21

Cardiovascular Health

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US—and is more prevalent in men than women.22

Yet, consuming foods that increase testosterone can prevent you from becoming another addition to this statistic.

The key male hormone inhibits the accumulation of lipids—molecules that cause atherosclerosis (thickening of the artery walls)—which in turn can lead to heart attacks.23 24

Vitamins and Minerals That Increase Testosterone Levels

As outlined above, testosterone is essential for male health—and one of the easiest ways to elevate T-levels is through food and nutrition.

Science has shown that specific vitamins and minerals are natural T-boosters. Here are the most powerful nutrients that increase testosterone.

Zinc

This mineral is essential for overall well-being. It powers the immune system, enables enzymes to break down foods, and is responsible for cell division and growth.25

Pills IconYet in addition, zinc is considered one of the premier testosterone-boosting compounds.

Research papers have shown that consuming zinc elevates free testosterone. What’s more—you don’t require it in large volumes. Just 30 mg per day is sufficient to kick-start T-production. 26

Foods that increase testosterone through their zinc content include:

Lean Beef

Zinc Content: 4.28 mg per 100 g 27

A powerful zinc provider, but don’t overdo it on the red meat. Not only does it contain more fat than chicken and turkey—but also excess consumption has been linked to colon cancer.28

Egg Yolks

Zinc Content: 1.29 mg per 100 g 29

Seven eggs on the grass, one of them is cut in half and the egg yolk can be seen

Although one of the most versatile foods that increase testosterone—it’s often given a bad reputation.

Previously, nutritionists believed that eating too many eggs raised cholesterol levels and therefore increased the likelihood of heart disease. However, recent research (2018) shows that it has little effect on LDL (bad) cholesterol.30

Oysters

Zinc Content: 39.30 mg per 100 g 31

One of the most famous aphrodisiacs—perhaps because its a substantial source of zinc.

As this mineral can boost testosterone and therefore libido—it’s possible that this has contributed to oyster’s reputation as a sex-drive enhancer.

Shellfish

Zinc Content: 5.95 mg per 100 g (crab) 32

Not only high in zinc—but shellfish are also potent protein providers—useful if you’re trying to build muscle.

Pomegranates

Zinc Content: 0.35 mg per 100 g 33

Pomegranate on the plate

Fruits are not the best providers of zinc. While most contain some of this vital element—they’re usually in trace amounts.

However, pomegranate has one of the highest zinc contents of all the fruits—so choose this instead of apples or oranges.

Ginger

Zinc Content: 0.34 mg per 100g 34

Like pomegranates, ginger doesn’t contain as much zinc as the animal-based foods.

Yet, adding this spice to your salads, soups, and casseroles provides an extra helping of this testosterone-boosting mineral.

Furthermore, studies on rats have shown that consuming this root can heighten T-levels—although the reason for this is not yet understood.35

Magnesium

Drugs iconThis element, often supplied together with zinc in dietary supplements, is required for efficient nerve function, controlling blood sugar levels, and keeping blood pressure in check.36

Research has shown that increasing magnesium intake has the effect of elevating testosterone. In a 2014 study, scientists demonstrated that a dose of 450 mg per day was sufficient to raise T-levels by 33 percent.37

If you’re looking for magnesium foods that increase testosterone—here are the leading players.

Spinach

Magnesium Content: 79 mg per 100 g 38

Spinach in the bowl

Not only high in magnesium, but spinach is also an effective provider of protein (for a vegetable)—delivering 2.86 g per 100g.

Quinoa

Magnesium Content: 197 mg per 100 g 39

A nutritional addition to any meal eaten in the same way to rice.

One of the best accompaniment foods that increase testosterone as its high in both magnesium and zinc.

Legumes

Magnesium Content: 70 mg per 100 g (black beans) 40 

Mix of different color beans

These are plants dense in nutrients which include beans, lentils, peas, and chickpeas. 

On top of their high magnesium levels, they’re also rich in fiber and vitamin B—making them effective at lowering cholesterol and preventing heart disease.41

Almonds

Magnesium Content: 270 mg per 100g 42

One of the most useful snack foods that increase testosterone with their high magnesium content.

Furthermore, they’re rich in antioxidants—protecting the body against oxidative stress which can cause premature aging, cancer, and inflammation.43

Cashews

Magnesium Content: 292 mg per 100 g 44

Cashews are one of the most mineral-rich nuts of all, being high in iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, and manganese.

Avocado

Magnesium Content: 29 mg per 100 g 45 

Avocado cut in half

If you’re looking for foods that increase testosterone while providing immense additional health benefits—avocados are an excellent choice.

They’re high in potassium, vitamin K and the B vitamins. Unusually for a fruit—avocados are high in fat. But, as they’re monounsaturated—these fats promote a healthy heart.

Vitamin A

While perhaps not such powerful testosterone heightening mineral as zinc and magnesium—vitamin A plays an integral part in the regulation and synthesis of androgens (male hormones).

Drugs iconResearchers from the University of Illinois discovered that this vitamin increases the bioavailability of testosterone and enables the ideal conditions for its production.46

Foods that increase testosterone, including vitamin A, are:

Liver

Vitamin A Content: 7744 mcg per 100 g 47

Animal livers are an incredibly rich source of vitamin A—as, like humans, animals store this mineral in this organ.

Additionally, the liver is packed with protein as well as being a good source of folate, iron, and choline.

Fish Oils

Vitamin A Content: 30000 mcg per 100 g (cod liver) 48

Many fish-oil foods that increase testosterone, such as cod liver, also contain substantial quantities of omega-3 fatty acids.

These compounds can protect the heart, prevent inflammation, and alleviate the symptoms of depression.49

Sweet Potato

Vitamin A Content: 709 mcg per 100 g 50

Sweet Potatoes on a small truck

This vegetable possesses vitamin A in the beta carotene form, which experts believe protects against colon and prostate cancer.51

Additionally, they’re virtually fat-free and high in fiber.

Carrots

Vitamin A Content: 835 mcg per 100 g 52

High in dietary fiber, carrots can help to prevent constipation and encourage intestinal tract health.53

Broccoli

Vitamin A Content: 31 mcg per 100 g 54

Roasted, steamed, or fried—broccoli is a versatile vegetable that also delivers hefty quantities of vitamins C and K.

Experts also believe that cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, can lower the risk of developing cancer.55

Mango

Vitamin A Content: 54 mcg per 100 g 56 

Person holding two mangoes

A Southeast Asian fruit with an impressive nutritional profile.

As well as being one of the best fruit foods that increase testosterone—it’s also high in antioxidants, boosts immunity, and may protect against cancer. 57 58

Sweet Red Pepper

Vitamin A Content: 157 mcg per 100 g 59

Red peppers contain capsaicin—a compound which studies show can help to boost weight loss.60

Vitamin B

Like vitamin A, the B vitamins don’t have a direct influence on testosterone production.

However, there is evidence that they enable tissues and organs to be both more receptive and sensitive to testosterone—increasing its efficacy.61

Drugs iconIn total, there are eight B vitamins. From these, experts are of the opinion that B6 and B12 are the most effective for heightening testosterones power and semen fertility.62 63

While the RDA (recommended daily allowance) for vitamins B6 and B12 are 1.3 mg and 2.4 mcg respectively per day—currently there are no studies which indicate the most beneficial dose for improving androgen receptivity.64 65

Foods rich in vitamin B include:

Milk

Vitamin B6 Content: 0.1 mg per cup 66

Vitamin B12 Content: 1.1 mcg per cup

Milk, and its derivatives, including cheese and yogurt, are solid B vitamin providers. Additionally, they’re high in calcium which not only strengthens bones—but also promotes quality sleep—essential for testosterone production.67 68

Sunflower Seeds

Vitamin B6 Content: 1.3 mg per 100 g and vitamin B12 Content: 0.00.69

Sunflower

If you’re seeking foods that increase testosterone while also functioning as a convenient snack—sunflowers seeds are ideal.

In addition to their B vitamins, they’re also high in the T-raising minerals zinc and magnesium.

Clams

Vitamin B6 Content: 0.01 mg per 100 g 70

Vitamin B12 Content: 98.9 mcg per 100 g

A mollusk which is a source of lean protein and contains very high quantities of vitamin B12. 

Clams, especially the baby variety, also provide impressive concentrations of iron, with almost 300 percent of your RDA in 20 clams.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a vital nutrient in foods that increase testosterone due to its two-pronged effect.

Firstly, research shows that consuming vitamin D stimulates the testes into producing more testosterone.71

Drugs iconSecondly, scientists have proven that vitamin D is essential for the healthy function of the HPTA (hypothalamus-pituitary testicular axis)—the process where the brain informs the testes to raise T-levels.72

Vitamin D foods that increase testosterone feature:

Salmon

Vitamin D Content: 14.1 mcg per 100 g 73

While salmon is one of the best foods that increase testosterone—try to select the wild instead of the farmed variety.

Research shows that the naturally caught type contains 75 percent more vitamin D than its industrially matured counterpart.74

Sardines

Vitamin D Content: 6.8 mcg per 100 g 75

These fish are not only excellent providers of vitamin D—but are also high in omega-3 fatty acids—which prevent inflammation.

If sardines aren’t your favorite fish, mackerel and herring also contain similar levels.

Tuna

Vitamin D Content: 6.7 mcg per 100g 76

Man is holding a plate with tuna fillet

One of the most budget-friendly fish foods that increase testosterone—at least, when bought canned.

However, don’t overindulge. Studies show that the tinned variety can contain high levels of mercury.77

Shrimp

Vitamin D Content: 3.8 mcg per 100 g 78

Unlike many ocean-based vitamin D sources—shrimps are relatively low in fat. Hence, making them ideal for those trying to watch their weight.

Which Foods Should I Avoid?

While there are foods that increase testosterone—unfortunately, the opposite is also true.

There are some staples which are the enemy of us men—depleting our T-stores and exacerbating low testosterone levels.Research Icon

Here are the foods to steer clear of:

Flaxseed

Healthwise, flaxseed initially appears desirable.

It contains high concentrations of protein, fiber, B vitamins, and dietary minerals. This has led many health “gurus” to recommend this food as the ultimate macro and micronutrient all-rounder.79

Yet, for us men, it can ruin our T-levels.

Flaxseed is rich in lignans, plant compounds that can adhere to testosterone and expel it from your body. Recent research explains that just 30 grams of flaxseed per day (over four weeks) results in a 15 percent reduction in T-levels.80 81

Processed Foods

If I could give you one piece of advice when looking for foods that increase testosterone, it would be this—avoid altogether anything that’s processed.

These convenient staples are usually high in trans fats—compounds which cause cardiovascular disease, inflammation, and diabetes.82 83 84

In addition to these severe health risks, they cause obesity—a contributing factor to inhibited testosterone production..85 86

What’s more, experts have discovered that trans fats lower testosterone directly—while also reducing testicular size and inhibiting fertility.87 88 89 

Unhealthy foods - hotdogs, lemonade and french fries on the table

The key processed foods that decrease testosterone are:

  • Tinned vegetables.
  • Bacon.
  • Sausages.
  • Salami.
  • Cakes and biscuits.
  • Potato chips.

Estrogen Rich Foods

Beware of estrogen—the enemy of foods that increase testosterone.

Even if you have high T-levels, consuming too much of the female hormone counteracts its effects—leading to muscle loss, fat gain, gynecomastia, and water retention.

Many plants contain phytoestrogens. These compounds are similar in structure to estrogen, bind to the same receptors, and induce comparable physiological effects to the female hormone.90

In addition to inhibiting the power of testosterone—scientists have also illustrated phytoestrogens lower testosterone production.91 

To ensure you’re not throwing your hormonal ratio out of balance, cut back on estrogen foods that decrease testosterone, such as:

  • Dried fruits.
  • Pistachios.
  • Walnuts.
  • Peanuts.
  • Strawberries.

Pistachios

 

Refined Carbohydrates and Sugars

While carbohydrates are excellent energy providers, those that have been refined should be avoided.

The manufacturing process strips them of their minerals, vitamins, and fiber—meaning the body digests them rapidly.

Firstly, this can lead to weight gain which, as already mentioned, lowers testosterone production.92

Secondly, they cause an insulin “spike”—a factor that studies show reduces your T-count.93

The carbohydrate foods that decrease testosterone are:

  • Sodas.
  • White bread.
  • Pasta.
  • White rice.
  • Instant Oatmeal.

Glass of soda

 

Vegetable Oil

Often nutritionists recommended using vegetable oil—since, as a polyunsaturated fat, it contains fatty acids beneficial for cardiovascular health.94

While studies are limited, there is some evidence that the consumption of these fats is inversely related to testosterone production. In other words, the more you consume, the lower your T-count becomes.95

So, forget about using oil from:

  • Canola.
  • Soybean.
  • Corn.
  • Cottonseed.

Soy Products

The evidence around soy-based foods is mixed.

It’s known that soy is exceptionally high in phytoestrogens, which as I explained above, can negate the power of testosterone.96

There is a debate, however, on whether it directly impacts actual male hormone production.

One 2005 study proposed that consuming soy protein lowered DHT (dihydrotestosterone—a form of testosterone) levels.97

However, more recent research from 2010 explained that neither soy foods nor supplements had any effect on T-production.98

Possible soy foods that decrease testosterone:

  • Miso.
  • Tofu.
  • Soy milk.
  • Edamame.
  • Soy sauce.

Bottle of soy sauce on the table

 

Meat

Whether land or water-based—meat is one of the foods that increase testosterone levels—high in all the vital vitamins and minerals that promote T-production.

However, stick to organic varieties. 

Intensively farmed meat can contain elevated concentrations of synthetic hormones and antibiotics, which destroy your testosterone production.

For example, cattle are often fed Trenbolone to boost size and mass. This is an anabolic steroid, which interferes with the HPTA—inhibiting testicular function.99 100

Furthermore, ciprofloxacin—an antibiotic used in cows, sheep, and goats, is known to reduce testicular tissue and inhibit FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone)—the precursors to testosterone.101 102

In addition, avoid non-organic animal-based derivatives such as milk, cheese, and yogurt—which can also include these antibiotics and hormones.103

Hence, steer clear of conventionally farmed:

  • Beef.
  • Chicken.
  • Lamb.
  • Fish.

Alcohol

Thankfully, alcohol is one of the foods that increase testosterone—but with a proviso.

Don’t drink too much.

alcoholic drink on the table

Research shows that an intermittent low alcohol dose (45 grams at 10 percent volume—about 90 ml of beer) can heighten T-levels.104

However, any more than that and the effects are reversed.

Studies indicate that consuming more than this amount every day for a period of six weeks can reduce testosterone by up to 6.8 percent.105

However, alcohol, for most people is an enjoyable and essential part of their social life. If you do want a drink—try to steer clear of beer. With a high sugar (and therefore caloric) content—it can rapidly pile on the pounds.106

This can mean that testosterone is further diminished by weight gain—exacerbating the effects of alcohol on T-levels.

Summary

As men—testosterone is essential for our mental, physiological, and sexual well-being.

Watching the foods we consume is one of the simplest ways to ensure our T-levels are at optimum.

Admittedly, diet alone will not elevate our male hormones to incredible concentrations. But, when combined with exercise and supplementation—it can form part of a robust T-boosting regime to restore your vitality and libido.

This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Biswadeep Das on August 2019

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