Testosterone is a steroid sex hormone for the androgen group. It is the primary male hormone, but it also has specific functions in women, where it is produced in smaller amounts.
The testicles produce testosterone in men and the ovaries in women. However, other glands, such as the adrenal glands, are also responsible for making this hormone, but to a lesser extent.
As a hormone, testosterone regulates certain functions of the organism. In men, its principal task is to stimulate the development and maintenance of male sexual characteristics:
- Thickening of the voice.
- The appearance of facial and body hair.
- Increase in muscle mass.
- Reduction of body fat.
- Increase in the size of Adam’s apple.
- Development of the skeletal system. Growth and maturation of the bones.
- Maturation of the genitalia. Evolution of the penis and testicles.
- Production of spermatozoa.
- Increased libido or sexual desire.
Testosterone also has a way of acting in women. It is fundamental for ovarian function and follicular development; as well as it is also responsible for the:
- Metabolism and bone health.
- Cognitive function. Memory and learning.
- Sexual function and libido or sexual desire.
- Muscle development,
- Mood and humor.
Thus, this hormone is present in different concentrations for each sex, each age, and each moment of the menstrual cycle in women. When the normal testosterone levels increase or decrease outside the normal range, there are alterations in the organism’s normal functioning.
Many factors can increase or decrease these levels, from some diseases, medications, lifestyle, and even diet.
No foods contain testosterone, but some compounds and nutrients in certain foods help to increase levels or decrease them naturally. Here are 20+ testosterone-boosting foods and testosterone-lowering foods you might want to keep an eye on.
Foods that increase testosterone levels
This sweet food contains boron, a mineral directly linked to testosterone as it acts on it. Honey also has arginine c, an amino acid that is converted into nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is a neurotransmitter with vasodilator function, so blood flows better through the blood vessels, allowing greater oxygenation, thus improving erection and making it last longer.
According to several studies, this fruit contains many antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, which increase testosterone by 16 to 30%. The best way to consume it is in the natural fruit; however, juices can also be helpful if they are organic.
This vegetable contains indole-3-carbinol in its leaves and stems. This nutrient from certain plants modulates estrogen metabolism, decreasing the levels of this female hormone and increasing testosterone’s effectiveness on the body.
Like cabbage, this vegetable has indole-3-carbinol, which helps eliminate estrogen storage and increases testosterone production.
Asparagus contains folic acid, vitamin E, and potassium, contributing to testosterone production. It is considered an aphrodisiac food, as it promotes the release of histamine. This helps both men and women achieve a faster and longer-lasting orgasm.
It helps reduce cortisol levels (stress hormone) while improving the availability and use of testosterone in the body because it contains allicin and quercetin. Garlic favors the production of nitric oxide, which, as we have already seen, is a neurotransmitter with a vasodilator function.
Several studies show that consuming large amounts of onion can triple testosterone production, so consuming it regularly is favorable. Onions, like garlic, contain quercetin, which, besides being a potent antioxidant, increases the body’s production of nitric oxide.
Also known as “the liquid gold of the Mediterranean,” it is one of the healthiest foods, as it is composed of good fats (monounsaturated), which, besides lowering cholesterol levels, are involved in the production of testosterone. Olive oil increases the activity of 3beta-HSD and 17 beta-HSD enzymes involved in the manufacture of testosterone, resulting in increased levels of regular consumption.
We know it for balancing good cholesterol (HDL) with bad cholesterol (LDL), tipping the scales to the good side. In addition, they have shown that, like olive oil, it increases the activity of the enzymes 3beta-HSD and 17 beta-HSD involved in the manufacture of testosterone, increasing its production.
This standard beverage among people can stimulate the nervous system and increase the levels of cAMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate). This nucleotide functions as a second messenger in several biological processes and intervenes favorably in increasing testosterone production. However, it should note that coffee can also increase the stress hormone (cortisol), which decreases testosterone.
Oysters are high in minerals, especially zinc. Zinc inhibits the aromatase enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen, increasing testosterone levels and improving semen production. Oysters also contain magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, iron, and vitamin B, and we consider them an aphrodisiac food.
Walnuts are a hyper-caloric food par excellence. They contain many good fats and are rich in vitamin E, which favors the increase of testosterone, besides having amino acids such as L-arginine and L-citrulline that increase nitric oxide. Nuts also have zinc, proteins, and vitamin B that stimulate testosterone production.
Eggs are a source of protein, amino acids, omega-3, and vitamin D that promote testosterone production. However, we should eat them in moderation because an excess of them can increase bad cholesterol.
This fruit contains in its skin an antioxidant called resveratrol which, like zinc and vitamin D, inhibits the aromatase enzyme, favoring the increase of testosterone.
They are rich in boron and antioxidants such as resveratrol (like red grapes), linked to increased testosterone and reduced estrogen levels.
This fruit has lots of good fats (monounsaturated fats), vitamins E, B2, B5, and B6, and minerals like zinc and magnesium are all essential for testosterone production and increase.
Because of their anti-estrogenic effect and inhibition of the enzyme aromatase, mushrooms favor the increase of testosterone levels.
This food has large amounts of proteins essential to increase muscle mass and to stimulate testosterone, zinc, magnesium, and iron, elemental for testosterone production, among other minerals and vitamins. However, red meat also contains saturated fats, so we should not abuse it.
Salmon and other oily fish contain a lot of protein, omega-3, fatty acids, and vitamin D. All these compounds support testosterone production naturally.
This plant-based food contains high amounts of iron and zinc, minerals in testosterone production.
We consider it an aphrodisiac food. They are high in minerals such as zinc, iron, magnesium, and manganese, essential for testosterone production.
Its high content of zinc and magnesium helps increase testosterone levels. In addition, they contain healthy fats.
Its high protein, calcium, and vitamin D content is involved in testosterone production, helping to increase levels.
Vitamins and minerals
Vitamins B and D, magnesium, and zinc are vital components in the formation of testosterone. Vitamin D and zinc inhibit the aromatase enzyme transforming testosterone into estrogen. They control and reduce estrogen levels by intervening in this process, maintaining and increasing testosterone levels.
Foods that decrease testosterone levels
Soy and soy products
Soy milk, soybean oil, tofu, edamame, and miso are some foods linked to a drop in testosterone levels. Soy is rich in phytoestrogen, a plant-derived substance that mimics the effect of estrogen in lowering testosterone levels. Although there are few studies in humans, we know that specific components of soy decreased testosterone in rats and reduced prostate size.
Several studies in rats and women showed a considerable reduction in testosterone levels after several weeks of consuming the leaf or its oils. However, it takes more studies to prove this finding in men, as most have been conducted in women or animals.
Licorice is widely used in sweets and drinks to sweeten them and give them a particular flavor. But this sweet root can reduce testosterone levels. A recent study showed that testosterone concentration in the blood decreased by 26% after consuming 7 grams daily for only seven days. This effect has also been tested in women with similar results.
As well as soybean oil, other vegetable oils such as corn, canola, or cottonseed oil are loaded with polyunsaturated fatty acids associated with decreased testosterone levels.
Despite being a high-fiber food, flaxseed contains lignins which are plant compounds that bind to testosterone and force it to be excreted from the body, which is why it is associated with low testosterone levels in people who consume too much of it.
High in sodium, trans fats and added sugars are a very detrimental option for health. Several studies have shown that men with a high intake of these foods had a 15% decrease in testosterone levels, a 37% decrease in semen sperm count, and a decrease in testicular volume, impairing sexual performance.
Excessive alcohol consumption has decreased testosterone levels in both men and women. Daily consumption generates a drop of approximately 10% in just three weeks. The liver degrades ethanol to a toxic substance known as acetaldehyde. This substance directly inhibits muscle growth, affecting testosterone production in the testes, specifically in the Leydig cells. In this way, food is a source of energy, vitamins, and minerals necessary for human beings’ correct development, growth, and maintenance in all their spheres.
The bottom line
Diet and lifestyle changes can help a person maintain healthy testosterone levels. Changing up your diet is certainly one of the most effective ways to maintain healthy testosterone levels.
If you’re concerned about low testosterone levels, swapping out these testosterone-lowering foods and replacing them with healthy alternatives can keep levels in check and enhance your overall health.
Lastly, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, getting plenty of sleep, and fitting exercise into your routine are some other significant steps you can take to boost testosterone naturally. Talk to your doctor about what may be the best option for you.
Dr. Jenell Ruth Decker
Dr. Decker graduated from the Marshall University Joan C Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall University in 1996. She works in Pullman, WA and 3 other locations and specializes in Family Medicine. Dr. Decker is affiliated with Pullman Regional Hospital.
Education & Training
- Vidant Medical Center/East Carolina University Vidant Medical Center/East Carolina University – Internship, Family Medicine, 1997 – 1999
- Marshall University School of Medicine Marshall University School of Medicine – Internship, Transitional Year, 1996 – 1997
- Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine – Class of 1996