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Last updated: May 09, 2022
7 min read

10 foods that boost testosterone

 

Disclaimer

If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Testosterone is one of the main male sex hormones. It impacts muscle mass, sexual function, and fertility. 

Sometimes, testosterone levels fall below what is considered to be “normal.” This could be due to age, stress, injury or trauma, or certain medical conditions or treatments.  

When you have low testosterone levels, you may have symptoms like low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, and more (Nassar, 2022; Sizar, 2021). 

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to support healthy testosterone levels, including making certain foods a part of your diet. 

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Best foods to boost testosterone

Here are some of the foods that may help with testosterone levels:

1. Fatty fish

A few types of fatty fish include: 

  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Trout
  • Mackerel
  • Tuna
  • Herring

Fatty fish contain multiple healthy nutrients like vitamin D, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids. 

Omega-3s can help reduce inflammation, regulate blood pressure, and lower heart disease risk (Gammone, 2018). The three main types of omega-3 fatty acids are EPA, DHA, and ALA. Both EPA and DHA are found in fish, while ALA is mainly found in plant-based foods like nuts and seeds.

In addition to the benefits for heart health, some research suggests EPA and DHA supplementation could increase testosterone levels in some men (Abbott, 2020). However, results are conflicting, and other studies don’t show an impact of EPA and DHA supplementation on testosterone levels.

Additionally, extremely low-fat diets have been associated with decreases in testosterone levels. This is somewhat logical because cholesterol is an essential building block of testosterone. However, these studies have been small, and further research is needed (Whittaker, 2021).  

2. Dark leafy greens

Leafy green vegetables like kale or spinach are good sources of fiber, micronutrients, antioxidants, and minerals like magnesium.

A 2011 study of older men found that magnesium intake was associated with higher testosterone levels (Maggio, 2011). Another study found that a diet low in dark leafy greens (and other elements, such as dairy) was associated with poorer testicular function and lower testosterone levels (Kurniawan, 2021).

3. Cocoa and dark chocolate

Dark chocolate and cocoa products are a source of magnesium and flavonoid antioxidants. Flavonoid antioxidants can help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals and oxidative stress

A 2020 study found flavonoids and isoflavonoids may help increase testosterone levels, though the study is small and additional evidence would be needed before forming larger conclusions (Martin, 2020).

4. Avocados

Avocados are a highly popular food because they are versatile. They’re packed with nutrients like fiber, protein, magnesium, vitamin E, healthy fats, and a trace mineral called boron. 

Increasing boron intake may help increase magnesium absorption and testosterone levels in people with a boron deficiency (Pizzorno, 2015). With that being said, the research around boron is mixed.

5. Berries and pomegranates

Fruits like berries, cherries, and pomegranates are loaded with antioxidants, like the flavonoids called quercetin, myricetin, and kaempferol. Flavonoid antioxidants may help protect cells from damage and improve testosterone levels (Martin, 2020). 

A small 2012 study found taking pomegranate juice daily for two weeks increased testosterone levels in saliva (Al-Dujaili, 2012). While there isn’t a lot of research on this topic, those results are certainly very interesting.

6. Shellfish

Shellfish like oysters, clams, and shrimp are excellent sources of selenium, omega-3s, and zinc. 

Zinc is an important mineral for reproductive health and hormone levels. A deficiency in zinc can lead to decreased testosterone production (Santos, 2020). 

For people with a zinc deficiency, increasing foods with zinc or adding a zinc supplement may increase testosterone levels (Santos, 2020). 

7. Ginger

Ginger is a root plant used in cooking and traditional medicine. 

A review article indicated that ginger might protect against oxidative stress and increase testosterone levels (Banihani, 2018).  

However, the evidence is limited, and the effects of ginger on testosterone haven’t been confirmed in humans. So, you could consider adding ginger to your meals for the antioxidant benefits, but data isn’t definitive regarding whether it will help your testosterone levels. 

8. Vitamin D

A 2010 study found that vitamin D supplementation in those with lower vitamin D levels may increase testosterone levels, though the study was small and further research is required (Pilz, 2011). 

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that influences hormone production and other areas of health. The body creates vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, and you can get it from some foods like salmon, tuna, and beef liver, as well as foods fortified with the vitamin. 

9. Olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil is a good source of vitamin E and vitamin K

A small 2013 study found that taking olive oil could positively impact testosterone levels (Derouiche, 2013).  

10. Onions

Onions are a staple ingredient for adding flavor to meals and are a source of antioxidants, vitamin C, folate, and potassium. 

Multiple research studies have linked onions with an impact on testosterone levels. It’s believed that onions may help protect against declining testosterone levels through antioxidant effects and promoting nitric oxide production, among other methods (Banihani, 2019). 

Foods to avoid

Some foods have been linked to lower testosterone levels. Here are some of the foods to avoid consuming in excess: 

Processed foods

A diet high in processed foods and omega-6 fatty acids might be linked to lower testosterone levels (Kurniawan, 2021; Mínguez-Alarcón, 2017). 

Often, processed foods are high in salt, fat, sugar, and calories but low in important nutrients. Limiting the number of processed foods in your diet and focusing on eating fresh, whole foods wherever possible may have a beneficial impact on your overall health.

Foods packaged in BPA-containing plastic

BPA-containing plastic has been linked to several health concerns, including disrupting hormone levels. 

A 2013 study found a potential association between high levels of BPA in the blood and decreased testosterone levels in men (Zhou, 2013). 

Alcohol

Excessive alcohol intake has also been linked with a negative impact on sperm production and problems with the testicles. 

While occasional drinking is less likely to impact your testosterone levels, heavy drinking is more likely to lead to decreased testicular function (Duca, 2019). 

Other ways to boost testosterone

In addition to diet, living a healthy lifestyle can positively impact your testosterone levels and provide other health benefits. Here are some lifestyle changes that may support healthy testosterone:

Maintain a healthy weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is important for multiple areas of your overall health and wellbeing. Research suggests that when characteristics like BMI, obesity, waist circumference, fat mass, and muscle mass fall outside certain ranges, these parameters can all contribute to lower testosterone levels (Ko, 2020). 

Living a healthy lifestyle by exercising often, eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and managing stress levels may support maintaining a healthy weight and may benefit your overall health.

Try strength training

Some research suggests strength training 5–7 days a week could be associated with a lower risk for low testosterone levels. Exercises for strength training are designed to build muscle mass. These exercises typically involve lifting weights or bodyweight exercises to strengthen muscles (Ko, 2020). 

Quit smoking

Smoking negatively impacts health in a number of ways, including testosterone levels. A 2021 study found potentially beneficial effects of smoking cessation on testosterone levels (Ko, 2020). 

Testosterone replacement therapy

Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) refers to a treatment used to increase testosterone levels in people who have been diagnosed with low testosterone. Testosterone replacement therapy can be delivered using injections, patches, gels, or pills. Not everyone needs or is a good candidate for testosterone replacement therapy, so ask your healthcare provider if it may be a good fit for you. 

The bottom line is that keeping your testosterone levels within range is beneficial for a variety of reasons, including for your fertility. Eating a balanced diet that includes nutrient-rich foods is one of the things you can do to try to support your testosterone.

References

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  2. Al-Dujaili, E. & Smail, N. (2012). Pomegranate juice intake enhances salivary testosterone levels and improves mood and well being in healthy men and women. Endocrine Abstracts, 28. Retrieved from https://www.endocrine-abstracts.org/ea/0028/ea0028p313 
  3. Banihani, S. A. (2018). Ginger and Testosterone. Biomolecules, 8(4), 119. doi:10.3390/biom8040119. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6316093/ 
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  5. Derouiche, A., Jafri, A., Driouch, I., et al. (2013). Effect of argan and olive oil consumption on the hormonal profile of androgens among healthy adult Moroccan men. Natural Product Communications, 8(1), 51–53. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23472458/ 
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