Yes, eating certain foods may encourage your body to produce more of the hormone testosterone. Although it’s slightly more complicated than food in, testosterone up.
But why would you even want increased testosterone, anyway?
“Testosterone plays numerous roles in bodily function and health,” says said Kristin Gillespie, M.S., R.D., L.D., advisor for Exercisewithstyle.com.
Beyond male reproduction and maturation, testosterone can help promote bone health and brain function, including mood, sex drive, and overall cognitive function,” Gillespie says.
And then there’s the opposite side of not having enough testosterone.
“Testosterone deficiency can cause symptoms including reduced muscle mass, irritability and difficulty concentrating, decreased energy, hair loss, and brittle bones that fracture easily,” the dietitian says.
While your body is capable of making testosterone is made in your body, certain factors can contribute to its level of production.
“The body produces testosterone internally to help regulate and maintain appropriate circulating levels,” Gillespie says. “However, certain conditions can reduce our body's ability to do this. These include chronic health conditions like AIDS, kidney disease, alcoholism, and liver cirrhosis, and stress.”
And then there’s how many years you’ve been on this planet.
“Our testosterone levels also steadily decrease as we age,” she says. “Those that are unable to produce enough testosterone to maintain appropriate levels can get it from alternate sources.”
While a doctor can prescribe testosterone supplements to help boost levels for those with a deficiency, there are also certain foods that can help elevate levels naturally as a result of their nutrient composition.
“Certain nutrients, including vitamin D, magnesium, and zinc, help us produce testosterone and maintain levels,” she said.
Also, and important disclaimer: Diet is only one small part of testosterone production. Others include sleep, smoking, drinking, exercise, and even heredity. While there's some research to indicate that certain nutrients may elevate testosterone levels, there is no guarantee that eating certain foods will help.
Ahead, a look at seven such foods that have been linked to higher testosterone levels.
1. Fatty fish
“High-fat fish, like salmon, are rich in many nutrients that help with hormonal health and homeostasis, including vitamin D, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids,” says Gillespie.
2. Leafy greens
Have you got your kale fix today?
“Because these greens are such nutritional powerhouses, it shouldn't come as a surprise that they contain key nutrients for maintaining testosterone levels,” says Gillespie.
“Spinach, kale, and collards can help promote optimal testosterone levels. The key micronutrient in this case is magnesium, which has been linked to higher testosterone levels due to prevention of oxidative stress.”
“Eggs are another food that can help maintain testosterone levels as a result of their rich nutrient profile. The key nutrients in this case are the healthy fats, which offer a similar benefit to fish, and selenium,” says Gillespie.
“Selenium acts as an antioxidant and, thus, helps to prevent oxidative damage similarly to magnesium. It is important to note that the most nutritious part of the egg is the yolk, so one must consume whole eggs to maximize the benefit.”
“Rich in healthy fats and magnesium, which we've established as having a pro-testosterone effect, can also help regulate testosterone levels,” said Gillespie. “In addition to these nutrients, avocados contain boron, which may also impact circulating testosterone levels.”
Just note: animal study.
If you’re looking to add pomegranate juice to your diet, take care that it’s 100 percent pomegranate juice with no added sugar. “You can also add pomegranate arils to smoothies, salads, yogurt, oats, and even roasted veggies,” Yawitz says.
“In animal studies, ginger supplements have been shown to bring about several anatomical and physiological changes that lead to increased testosterone production,” says Yawitz.
“The links between ginger and testosterone haven’t been studied as much in humans. In one small study, men with infertility who took ginger supplements were able to increase their testosterone levels by nearly 18 percent in three months (on average),” she says, adding that it’s not yet clear whether ginger can boost testosterone levels in men who don’t have infertility.
Still, says Yawitz, ginger has a lot of other impressive health benefits, so she’s all for eating more of it. “I like to grate it and mix it into stir-fries. You can also pour boiling water over peeled ginger root for a homemade tea,” she says.
"Oysters have several key nutrients that are thought to increase testosterone, including zinc,” says Yawitz, elaborating that zinc supplements are sometimes used to treat low testosterone, either alone or in combination with medications. “But there’s a catch: Supplements appear to be effective only in men with a zinc deficiency (which is rare).”
With that in mind, Yawitz says that it's possible that eating more foods that are high in zinc could support hormone health. “A three-ounce serving of oysters has 32 milligrams of zinc, which is more per serving than any other food,” she says.
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