Though testosterone is defined as an androgen hormone, which means it is classified as a male sexual hormone, everyone has it. For those with male anatomy, testosterone is responsible for proper development during puberty, determining hair growth and where body fat gathers, helping the body maintain bone and muscle strength, make sperm, burn fat, and gain muscle. It is also responsible for maintaining sex drive and erections, boosting energy and mood, and helping to make red blood cells.
For those with female anatomy testosterone is produced in the ovaries, adrenal glands, skin cells, and fat cells. It is quickly converted into estrogen, and plays an important role in bone and breast health, fertility, vaginal health, menstrual health, and sex drive.
The testosterone levels of those with male anatomy are significantly higher than those with female anatomy. As a person ages, their testosterone level naturally decreases, though factors such as medical conditions and certain lifestyle choices, including alcohol consumption, diet, and lack of exercise, can also contribute to low testosterone levels. Eventually, drops in testosterone levels can contribute to loss of strength, lowered muscle mass, reduced sex drive, low sperm count, and sleep disturbance. Always be sure to share your health concerns with your doctor who can order lab work and figure out the underlying cause.
There are still a lot of unknowns about testosterone, such as the best time of day to measure it, and even the optimal amount of it necessary for people to develop, live, and function optimally. There is no scientific data to either support or oppose the belief that food can boost testosterone levels, but there are many, experts and laypersons alike, who contend that it is possible to raise testosterone levels with foods that are rich in certain micronutrients. Eating foods that are high in zinc, magnesium, and vitamin D is believed to be beneficial for trying to boost testosterone levels. Whatever side of the issue you take, it can only be good for you to eat a healthy, balanced diet that includes lean protein, eggs, dairy, and fresh fruit and vegetables.
Free range, pasture-raised eggs are an excellent source of protein, vitamin D, and omega-3s, all of which may be essential in the production of hormones. They are a versatile food that make an easy, convenient snack, or the perfect meal any time of day. They are also a complete protein, which may be beneficial if you’re looking to build muscle. At this point, there is no research that correlates egg intake with boosting testosterone levels. However the nutrients present in eggs can play a role in optimal health by helping maintain optimal nutritional status.
Avocados are rich in magnesium and boron, a trace mineral that appears to influence testosterone metabolism and promote healthy testicles. However, research is needed before drawing any conclusions. If guacamole or avocado toast aren’t your thing, boron can also be found in peaches, peanuts, broccoli, and apples. This study found that supplementing with magnesium can support testosterone levels, so consuming magnesium-rich foods may also have a similar effect in supporting healthy hormone levels. Animal studies have shown the potential for boron to boost testosterone levels however human studies are needed.
Bananas can be a good source of nutrients such as magnesium. One study has found a correlation between magnesium levels and testosterone levels in men however more research is needed. Bananas are also a healthy, convenient snack with a host of beneficial nutrients. Unfortunately no studies have yet been done concerning banana intake and testosterone levels. This would be an exciting area to explore in the future in order to fully understand if there is any benefit.
Oysters are extremely rich in zinc, which is essential for testosterone production and the maintenance of healthy sperm. Zinc can also boost dopamine, a hormone that plays a role in libido in people. Crab, shrimp, and lobster are also high in zinc and may help increase testosterone levels.
Pomegranates, cherries, and berries are all loaded with rich antioxidants that promote overall health, manage oxidative stress, and can boost immune function. Pomegranates, the long-time symbol of prosperity, community, or fertility in some cultures, are also believed to have very potent testosterone boosting capabilities.
Almonds contain high levels of zinc, which is purported to boost testosterone levels in people who present as zinc deficient. When a person is low in zinc, the pituitary gland may stop releasing some of the key hormones required for stimulating testosterone production.
Ginger root has been used to improve fertility for those with male anatomy for centuries. Current proponents of the ginger root contend that regular consumption of it may increase testosterone levels, while also improving sperm quality and motility. That said, these studies have been done on animals – human studies are needed.
Onions offer many health benefits thanks to the flavonoids present such as quercetin. They are also nutrient-rich, potent antioxidants and polyphenols. There is some anecdotal evidence and animal studies that show onions or onions extract support increased testosterone levels, though clinical research is needed.
Garlic is not a testosterone boosting food, but instead a food that promotes heart health because it contains allicin. Allicin has antioxidant-like properties that can help combat oxidative stress. This animal study also suggests that 28 days of garlic intake can support testosterone levels in mice fed a high protein diet. Human studies are needed in order to fully understand this relationship.
Lemons, along with most other citrus fruits, contain antioxidants like vitamin C and can support a healthy immune system while managing oxidative stress. However, there are no current studies that correlate lemons with boosted testosterone levels.
Fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel, salmon, sardines, tilapia, and trout are high in zinc and also contain vitamin D, omega-3s and other nutrients that are important to hormone production. Omega 3s rich in DHA can support healthy testosterone levels as demonstrated by this study. Vitamin D and zinc are believed to be important for testosterone production.
While overconsumption of red meat may lead to health challenges, there are certain cuts of beef that contain nutrients that are considered to be beneficial to testosterone production by association. Still, no direct studies have been conducted comparing different types of meat consumed and testosterone levels. Ground beef and chuck roast are high in zinc. Cow liver and other organ meats are extraordinary sources of vitamin D, while steak is high in protein, vitamin B12, and iron. Grass-fed meats tend to have higher levels of omega-3s (in comparison to grain fed), which are considered essential healthy fats that the body can use for maintaining optimal health.
Leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and Romaine lettuce are packed with potassium, iron, calcium, vitamins A, E, and kale, folate, and fiber. Spinach and Swiss chard contain more boron and magnesium than almost any other greens, while kale and collard greens are packed with vitamin K, all of which appear to be beneficial to supporting healthy hormone levels. And magnesium has been correlated with boosting testosterone levels in healthy individuals.
Cocoa products such as dark chocolate and cocoa powder are high in magnesium and flavonoid antioxidants, both of which may support testosterone production. While more research is needed, it does seem like an invitation to enjoy some dark chocolate on a regular basis.
There is much debate about the benefits of drinking animal milk in general, but when it comes to its impact on testosterone levels, there are primarily two different schools of thought. Some say that drinking vitamin D-fortified milk, especially low-fat or skim, is a healthy option that may have a positive impact on testosterone production. Others believe that the milk of pregnant female cows that is sold commercially contains estrogen and progesterone that may negatively impact testosterone. More research is needed.
Many of the fortified plant milks (almond, soy, hemp, flax, and oat) contain 25% of the daily Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamin D per serving. While the evidence that vitamin D supports increasing testosterone levels is somewhat anecdotal, it is important to get adequate vitamin D, regardless of its impact on testosterone. There is currently a large number of Americans who do not get enough vitamin D. Some studies show a correlation between low vitamin D levels and low testosterone levels in men, which suggests that maintaining vitamin D intake can support healthy testosterone levels.
Many fortified cereals contain magnesium, zinc, iron, and vitamins A, B, C, and D. While these nutrients are purported to help support testosterone levels, actual studies are needed to explore the potential correlation.
Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) is rich in vitamin E and monounsaturated fat, which likely contribute to its health benefits. It is also purported to boost male reproductive health. Results of this study indicate that EVOO may boost serum testosterone levels in healthy adult male subjects. Participants also experienced an increase in luteinizing hormone, which stimulates cells in the testes to produce testosterone.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in the US states that spirit liquor has a connection to low testosterone levels.
This study found that alcohol consumption can negatively affect testosterone production, with its authors suggesting that “elucidating the relationship between alcohol consumption and testosterone may be useful...in attenuating the testosterone-reducing effects of excessive or chronic alcohol consumption.” The key is to limit alcohol and consuming in moderation as alcohol in excess can also deplete essential nutrients such as magnesium, b vitamins, and more.
Processed, prepackaged or frozen meals, fast food, sweets, and snacks are low in vitamins and minerals, but high in calories, salt, sugar, and chemical flavoring. They may be associated with poor testicular function which can directly impact testosterone levels.
Canned or packaged-in-plastic food has limited nutritional value after being processed for sterilization. Such foods also contain chemicals, like Bisphenol A (BPA), which can ingress the human body when food is consumed from a reheated plastic package. They affect both homeostasis and hormone levels. This animal study found a negative correlation with BPA exposure and testosterone production. Additional research is needed before conclusions are drawn.
Regular exercise, reduced stress, and healthy sleep habits combined with a healthy diet are all conducive to potentially supporting your testosterone levels.
Resistance training, in particular, can positively impact testosterone levels, as demonstrated in this study. Different types of exercises use different muscle groups and can have a different impact on the body. This study found that free weight exercises were more effective at impacting hormone levels detected in the blood. After measuring blood levels for testosterone, squats demonstrated the highest increase in testosterone in comparison to a leg press. Additional research can help determine specific routines to boost testosterone levels.
Testosterone is a sex hormone that plays a role in fertility, sexual function, libido, muscle mass, erections, energy, mood, and making red blood cells. Everyone has testosterone, though people with male anatomy have substantially more than those with female anatomy do. Testosterone levels decrease gradually with age, and sometimes as a result of lifestyle choices or a medical condition. There are many foods that are purported to be beneficial in supporting healthy testosterone levels. Still, more research is needed. These foods are mainly foods that would constitute a healthy, varied diet, so it’s a win-win situation.