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Testosterone-Boosting Foods to Add to Your Diet

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Medically approved by Dr Earim Chaudry
BMBS MMedSc Dip ENDO, TRT Expert
iconLast updated 25th May 2021
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For those suffering from low testosterone, radical treatments like testosterone replacement therapy are not always necessary. There are simpler ways to manage Low-T – and testosterone-boosting foods are a great place to start.

From tuna to oysters, from ginger to pomegranates, there are lots of different foods that may boost your testosterone levels. However, whilst many are supported by scientific evidence, many are not. Those rich in zinc or vitamin D are what science suggests you should aim for.

Meanwhile, there are foods to avoid too if you want to up your testosterone levels. Processed foods, those high in sugar, and large quantities of alcohol are all best left aside.

Low testosterone can be a tough condition to deal with. In a culture that draws a straight line between masculinity and this male hormone, a deficiency can feel like your very manliness is at stake. And that’s before you’ve even had to deal with the physical symptoms.

However, if you feel like you are experiencing the symptoms of Low-T, radical treatments such as testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) needn’t be your first port of call. Instead, there are easier and more natural ways to regulate your hormones. Eating some of the world’s testosterone-boosting foods is one of them.

In this article, we’re going to look at a few of these foods to boost testosterone levels. And we’ll advise you about some of the foods you should avoid for the sake of your hormones too.

What is Low Testosterone?

Low-T is the condition resulting from a deficiency of the male hormone, testosterone. Whilst it can occur in people of all genders – as this androgen works wonders for both men and women – it is a condition more often associated with the male body.

Causes of Low-T

Testosterone deficiency can be caused by lots of different things. Alcohol abuse and obesity have both been linked to Low-T, whilst it can also result from medical conditions – including diabetes, HIV, and liver cirrhosis – as well as treatments such as chemotherapy.

Aging, too, naturally lowers your normal testosterone levels, usually by about 1% a year, although most people won’t experience any adverse symptoms. Some estimates suggest that 2% of older men experience Low-T.

Low-T Symptoms

The symptoms of low testosterone range from the psychological to the physical. Testosterone affects your body composition, your sex drive, and your mood – and a deficiency of this hormone will affect these too.

If you are concerned that you might be experiencing Low-T, look out for possible symptoms. These include weight gain, particularly on your chest, and loss of muscles; mood swings, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping; and sexual dysfunctions including erectile dysfunction and infertility.

Whilst many of these symptoms can be the result of aging or of different medical conditions, together they may show that your testosterone levels are low.

Foods to Boost Testosterone Levels

Before you seek medical treatment, however, there are many ways out there to boost testosterone levels naturally. These include testosterone-boosting foods – from fish to fruits and fortified foods too.

Here are some of the things that you can eat to up your T-levels.

Zinc: Oysters and Other Shellfish

Much of the dietary advice surrounding foods to boost testosterone is based on the power of a handful of minerals and vitamins. Zinc is one of them – as it is thought to play a role in the process of testosterone synthesis.[i]

In fact, studies have found that zinc may play an important role in the production of testosterone. After 20 weeks on a zinc-restricted diet, participants in one study showed that testosterone levels had dropped to a quarter of their original levels.[ii] In the same study, elderly men on zinc supplements saw testosterone levels double over six months.

Oysters contain by far the highest amount of zinc per serving of all foods,[iii] whilst crab and lobster are rich in the mineral too. However, another study found that, in people who have sufficient levels of zinc in their diet already, taking zinc supplements had little effect on testosterone levels.[iv]

Vitamin D: Fatty Fish and Fortified Foods

Alongside zinc, the other vitamin with serious testosterone-boosting potential is vitamin D – to which up to a third of the UK population might be deficient.[v]

Studies have shown a close association of vitamin D levels and testosterone, with one study showing that daily doses of vitamin D could increase testosterone levels by up to a quarter.[vi] Similarly, another study showed that vitamin D deficient men were more likely to have Low-T too.[vii]

Fatty fish – including salmon, tuna, and sardines – is a great way to ensure that you are getting the vitamin D that you need. You can try orange juice – which is often fortified with vitamins – or fortified cereals or milk too.

Whilst more recent studies have questioned the link between vitamin D and testosterone, they are great foods to add to your diet for vitamin deficiencies regardless.[viii]

Leafy Green Veg

Magnesium and testosterone are believed to be closely related[ix] – and studies have shown that magnesium levels can be effective in increasing testosterone levels.[x]

Many leaf green vegetables – such as kale, spinach, and Swiss chard – are rich in magnesium, so these might be something to add to your testosterone-boosting diet. Beans, nuts, and lentils are good for magnesium too.

Olive Oil

The “Mediterranean diet” is often praised for being the healthiest diet on the planet – and that’s largely thanks to the role of olive oil. Nicely, olive oil may be one of the best foods to boost testosterone too. According to one study, replacing butter with olive oil increased testosterone levels by nearly 20%.[xi]

Ginger

With its reputation for battling colds, indigestion, and even cholesterol, ginger is already up there among the best foods for your health. Add to this its potential for increasing testosterone and boosting sperm health,[xii] and it might be something really special indeed.

Further studies into the effect of ginger on testosterone in rats proved promising,[xiii] yet further research into humans is needed.

Pomegranate

Throughout history, pomegranates have been associated with fertility and sexual function – but now science seems to suggest they can boost testosterone levels too.

A study into the effect of pomegranate juice on sixty participants showed that testosterone levels in their saliva increased by 24%.[xiv] 

Foods to Avoid for Healthy Testosterone Levels

Regulating healthy testosterone levels isn’t all about the foods that you eat. What you keep out of your diet can be helpful too.

Keeping a balanced diet is key to your general health. So, whilst cutting down on certain foods is important, ensure that you get all the nutrients you need alongside those testosterone-boosting foods.

Here are some foods that your T-levels want you to keep to a minimum.

Processed Foods

Men who are obese are more likely to experience Low-T, and the more obese you are, the higher those chances get, according to the results of one study.[xv]

However, more precisely, heavily processed foods have been found to reduce testosterone levels.[xvi] In the same study, diets high in fried foods were found to cause similar results, whilst other studies have established links between high-sugar diets and Low-T.[xvii]

Alcohol

Alcohol consumption has long been associated with Low-T. However, according to a review of medical studies,[xviii] this association has only been found in circumstances when large amounts of alcohol have been consumed.

This seems to suggest that it is alcohol abuse, rather than alcohol per se, that reduces testosterone levels. So, have a drink, sure – but keep it in moderation.

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Key Takeaways

Testosterone-boosting foods provide an easy and natural way to increase testosterone levels in men. From salmon to spinach, olive oil to oysters, eating the right things can help your hormones.

That means avoiding other foods too. Remember that your testosterone will benefit if you avoid alcohol and high-fat diets.

References
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 Qingqing Chu, Zhi-Hong Chi, Xiuli Zhang, Dan Liang, Xuemei Wang, Yue Zhao, Li Zhang, Ping Zhang ( (2016). A potential role for zinc transporter 7 in testosterone synthesis in mouse Leydig tumor cells: https://www.spandidos-publications.com/10.3892/ijmm.2016.2576 

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A S Prasad, C S Mantzoros, F W Beck, J W Hess, G J Brewer (1996). Zinc status and serum testosterone levels of healthy adults: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8875519

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National Institutes of Health (NIH) – Zinc: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/#h3

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K Koehler, M K Parr, H Geyer, J Mester & W Schänzer (2007). Serum testosterone and urinary excretion of steroid hormone metabolites after administration of a high-dose zinc supplement: https://www.nature.com/articles/1602899

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S Pilz , S Frisch, H Koertke, J Kuhn, J Dreier, B Obermayer-Pietsch, E Wehr, A Zittermann (2011). Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21154195

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David M Lee, Abdelouahid Tajar, Stephen R Pye, Steven Boonen, Dirk Vanderschueren, Roger Bouillon, Terence W O’Neill, Gyorgy Bartfai, Felipe F Casanueva, Joseph D Finn, Gianni Forti, Aleksander Giwercman, Thang S Han, Ilpo T Huhtaniemi, Krzysztof Kula, Michael E J Lean, Neil Pendleton, Margus Punab, Frederick C W Wu, EMAS study group (2011). Association of hypogonadism with vitamin D status: the European Male Ageing Study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22048968

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Elisabeth Lerchbaum, Stefan Pilz, Christian Trummer, Verena Schwetz, Oliver Pachernegg, Annemieke C Heijboer, Barbara Obermayer-Pietsch (2017). Vitamin D and Testosterone in Healthy Men: A Randomized Controlled Trial: https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/102/11/4292/4096785

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Marcello Maggio, Francesca De Vita, Fulvio Lauretani, Antonio Nouvenne, Tiziana Meschi, Andrea Ticinesi, Ligia J. Dominguez, Mario Barbagallo, Elisabetta Dall’Aglio and Gian Paolo Ceda (2014). The Interplay between Magnesium and Testosterone in Modulating Physical Function in Men: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3958794/

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Vedat Cinar, Yahya Polat, Abdulkerim Kasim Baltaci, Rasim Mogulkoc (2010). Effects of magnesium supplementation on testosterone levels of athletes and sedentary subjects at rest and after exhaustion: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20352370

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Abdelfettah Derouiche, Ali Jafri, Issam Driouch, Mohammed El Khasmi, Ahmed Adlouni, Nada Benajiba, Youssef Bamou, Rachid Saile, Mohammed Benouhoud (2013). Effect of argan and olive oil consumption on the hormonal profile of androgens among healthy adult Moroccan men: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23472458

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Waleed Abid Al-Kadir Mares, Wisam S. Najam. Depts. of Physiology, Medicine, College of Medicine, Tikrit. University – The effect of Ginger on semen parameters and serum FSH, LH & testosterone of infertile men: https://www.iasj.net/iasj?func=fulltext&aId=71548

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Saleem Ali Banihani (2018). Ginger and Testosterone: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6316093/

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Endocrine Abstracts – Pomegranate juice intake enhances salivary testosterone levels and improves mood and well being in healthy men and women: https://www.endocrine-abstracts.org/ea/0028/ea0028p313

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Carolyn A Allan , Robert I McLachlan (2010). Androgens and obesity: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20418719

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Adi Lukas Kurniawan, Chien-Yeh Hsu, Hsiao-Hsien Rau, Li-Yin Lin, and Jane C.-J. Chao (2019). Dietary patterns in relation to testosterone levels and severity of impaired kidney function among middle-aged and elderly men in Taiwan: a cross-sectional study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6660671/

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Liang Chen, Yu-Mei Xie, Jian-Hao Pei, Jian Kuang, Hong-Mei Chen, Zhong Chen, Zhong-Wen Li, Xiao-Ying Fu, Long Wang, Shui-Qing Lai, Shu-Ting Zhang, Zhi-Jiang Chen and Jin-xin Lin (2018). Sugar-sweetened beverage intake and serum testosterone levels in adult males 20–39 years old in the United States: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6015465/

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Antonino Bianco, Ewan Thomas, Francesco Pomara, Garden Tabacchi, Bettina Karsten, Antonio Paoli & Antonio Palma (2014). Alcohol consumption and hormonal alterations related to muscle hypertrophy: a review: https://nutritionandmetabolism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1743-7075-11-26

While we've ensured that everything you read on the Health Centre is medically reviewed and approved, information presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

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