What has testosterone

what has testosterone

These Foods May Help Boost Low Testosterone

Jennifer M. Edwards is a journalist and author and certified personal trainer. She spent several years as the lifestyle editor for several daily newspapers in Texas, New York, and Florida. Her work has appeared in many regional magazines and dozens of the nation’s largest newspapers, including The Chicago Tribune; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution; The Houston Chronicle; The Fort Worth Star-Telegram; The Florida Times-Union; The Orange County Register, and the Palm Beach Post as well as the International Herald Tribune, the international version of the New York Times.

Jonathan Purtell, MS, RDN, CDN, is a registered dietitian at Lenox Hill Hospital. His primary interests include surgical and neurosurgical intensive care, orthopedic, obese/post-bariatric, and gastrointestinal patients.

Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in males. Its produced in the Leydig cells in the testes, and it plays an important role in sex drive, bone mass, body composition, muscle mass and strength, voice timbre, and sperm production.

Certain foods can boost your testosterone levels, or lower them. Researchers of a 2021 study followed 3,283 Taiwanese men over six years and found that those who ate a low-quality diet had poorer testicular function and low testosterone levels. The men who ate a diet rich in leafy greens, legumes, and dairy had better testicular function and testosterone levels. A poor diet was defined as: A typical Western diet with lots of processed meats and fish, deep-fried foods, organ meats, and flour products cooked in oil.

You can boost low testosterone levels naturally by eating a healthy diet and adding a few foods that are known to help boost testosterone levels. Here’s a look at some foods to include.

Fatty Fish and Fish Oil

A 2020 study following men and women with obesity found that taking fish oil with omega-3 fatty acids upped testosterone levels in men, but not women. The study found that DHA, a type of fatty acid found in fish, was particularly helpful.

Another older study from 2013 showed that fish oil and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) increased testosterone synthesis and may help boost athletic performance for both endurance and resistance training.

Milk and Dairy Products

The 2021 study of Taiwanese men previously mentioned found that consuming milk and dairy products protected against low testosterone levels. Another 2019 study of middle-aged and elderly men in Taiwan also drew a similar conclusion. Fortified milk is a key source of Vitamin D, which is essential for testosterone production. Ensuring vitamin D levels are within normal limits—may it be with food, sunlight, or supplementation—is vital for overall hormone health. However, more research is needed to draw robust conclusions on how dairy products affect testosterone production.

Legumes

The Taiwanese study found that eating legumes—a family that includes beans, peas, and peanuts—can protect against low testosterone levels and poor testicular function. This may be due to the fact that legumes are rich in two nutrients associated with higher testosterone levels: zinc and magnesium.

Dark, Leafy Greens

Dark, leafy greens are nutrient-dense, high in fiber, and filled with micronutrients that promote good health. The Taiwanese study also found that men who ate more dark, leafy greens had higher testosterone levels than men who did not. A 2018 study also saw similar results.

Honey

Natural medicine practitioners often point to honey’s many uses, from soothing a child’s sore throat to its antibacterial properties. A 2019 review of the literature also found that honey can increase testosterone levels in men by increasing the production of luteinizing hormone, enhancing the viability of Leydig cells, reducing oxidative damage in Leydig cells, and inhibiting aromatase activity in the testes. However, more research on humans are still needed to confirm the effect of honey on testosterone.

Onions

A 2019 review concluded that onions may help male testosterone levels by increasing the production of luteinizing hormone, enhancing the antioxidant defense mechanism in the testes, and defending against inflammation and insulin resistance. However, more clinical trials are needed to determine how onion can increase testosterone levels in humans.

Eggs

Whole eggs contain cholesterol, which your body needs to make testosterone. A 2021 study following young men on a weight training program over 12 weeks saw that those men who ate eggs daily increased their testosterone levels. They were separated into two groups, one that ate three whole eggs daily and one that ate six egg whites. The researchers found that the group that ate the entire eggs increased their testosterone level more.

Foods with Flavonoids

Studies have shown that eating high levels of flavonoids, a group of helpful compounds in many fruits and vegetables, is good for your health, and for producing testosterone. Some studies show flavonoids can prevent, or delay, hypogonadism (decreased functional activity of the gonads) in males as they age.

Oysters

Oysters are full of zinc, a mineral that’s essential for making testosterone. While taking in extra zinc may ensure you’re not deficient, getting more than you need won’t do much to increase your testosterone level.

Some Herbs

There are countless herbs on the market that tout their testosterone-boosting effects but have little evidence backing up those claims. However, a 2021 meta-analysis found that these four herbs show promise, although more research is needed:

Other Ways To Raise Testosterone Levels Naturally

You can make other changes to help improve your testosterone levels.

Exercise

Getting active yields lots of benefits, from improved mood, weight control, and fitness to increased testosterone levels in men. Strength and endurance training (cardio) can both increase your testosterone levels.

Weight Loss

Research shows that people who are overweight or have obesity show lower circulating levels of testosterone. Getting to a healthier weight may help your overall health as well as your testosterone levels. Just be sure not to eat too little because this can also negatively impact your testosterone levels.

Get Enough Fat

Eating a healthy diet with enough fat is important for overall health and testosterone levels. Cholesterol comes from some types of fat, and that’s what your body uses to make the hormone. Some studies recommend getting 25% of your calories from fat.

Get Enough Sleep

Some studies show that when men are sleep deprived, their testosterone levels lower. A natural way to increase your testosterone is by focusing on getting meaningful and adequate sleep.

Symptoms of Low Testosterone

Environmental factors and unhealthy lifestyles can contribute to low testosterone levels.

Your level is considered low when a blood test shows testosterone levels below 300 nanograms per deciliter (dl) for males, and 15 nanograms per deciliter for females. If it’s lower than that, you may have a condition called hypogonadism.

Low testosterone can cause symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Poor concentration and memory
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Reduced muscle mass and strength
  • Increased body fat
  • Reduced libido
  • Reduced sexual activity
  • Decreased spontaneous erections
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Gynecomastia, larger-than-normal breasts in males caused by abnormal growth of breast tissue
  • Infertility
  • Osteopenia, a decrease in bone density not severe enough to be osteoporosis
  • Osteoporosis, very low bone density that easily leads to breaks and fractures
  • Hot flushes and sweats

What Can Decrease Testosterone Levels?

Several factors can influence your testosterone levels. Some of them, you can’t control (like age). Others, such as your diet, alcohol or drug use, body weight, and activity level, you can control. Here’s a look at the major factors.

Age

Male testosterone levels generally start decreasing gradually after age 30. Levels decrease by 0.4% to 2% a year. Some studies show that up to 50% of middle-aged people with diabetes or obesity go on to develop hypogonadism.

Overweight and Obesity

Men who are overweight or have obesity tend to have lower testosterone levels. Talk with your healthcare provider about what a healthy weight looks like for you and how to achieve it.

Eating Too Little

On the flip side, having too big a gap between the calories you burn and the calories you use can also decrease your testosterone. A 2021 review of studies also found that low-fat diets decreased testosterone levels in men, especially those of European descent. The review authors concluded more research is needed to understand why.

Alcohol and Drug Use

Substance abuse can cause low testosterone levels. Alcohol, opioids, and steroids can reduce testosterone production, and nicotine, cannabis, and amphetamines can also impact your fertility. Reducing or eliminating these substances can help you regain healthy hormone levels.

Testosterone Booster Supplements

Many supplements claim to boost testosterone, but a 2019 study found less than a quarter had any evidence to back their claims. Some, about 10%, actually lowered testosterone.

How Your Diet Impacts Your Testosterone

A poor-quality diet with too few nutrients and too many calories can lead to weight gain, obesity, metabolic issues, and lower testosterone levels. Researchers have found that some foods are especially detrimental. They include:

A Quick Review

Many things can cause your testosterone levels to drop, from aging to a less-than-ideal diet, substance abuse, and inactivity.

The good news is that you can boost your testosterone levels by fine-tuning your diet and adding new foods. Some foods to include are fish oil, dairy products, leafy greens, legumes, fruits and vegetables containing flavonoids, and oysters.

Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

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