Foods That Kill Testosterone

Understanding Your Hormones Series

There is a prevailing belief that certain foods have the ability to kill testosterone levels. However, it is important to approach these claims with a critical mindset. While some foods may have an impact on testosterone production, the notion that they can completely kill testosterone levels is largely unfounded. Let's examine some of the commonly mentioned foods and explore the evidence behind their effects on testosterone.

More important than any of these individual foods however, vitamin deficiencies can lower testosterone levels and being overweight has a noticeable negative effect on testosterone production, meaning that a lot of what we would simply call "unhealthy" diets are going to lower testosterone levels.

The Impact of Diet on Testosterone Levels

A study published in 2020 revealed that a "Western" diet high in red meat, fried foods, abundant fat, and processed meals had a detrimental effect on testosterone levels and sperm count in men. In contrast, a healthier diet consisting of fish, chicken, vegetables, fruits, and water was associated with higher sperm counts. It is clear that the foods we consume can significantly impact our hormone levels.

Soy and Testosterone: Separating Fact from Fiction

Soy products, such as tofu and soy milk, have been a subject of controversy when it comes to testosterone levels. Some claim that the phytoestrogens present in soy can negatively impact testosterone. However, the research on this topic is inconclusive. A small study conducted in 2005 found that drinking soy protein resulted in decreased testosterone levels in men. However, a review of 15 studies published in 2009 concluded that soy had no significant effect on testosterone levels in men.

A study published in theGerman Medical Science journal found that there is no clear connection between soy consumption and altered testosterone or estrogen levels. Another review study published in 2021 concluded that soy and phytoestrogens have no impact on testosterone levels. While more research is needed to fully understand the effects of soy on testosterone, the existing evidence does not support the claim that soy kills testosterone.

Alcohol Can Lower Testosterone Levels: But, Moderation is Key

Alcohol consumption is another factor often associated with testosterone levels. While excessive and chronic alcohol consumption can have negative effects on overall health, including testosterone levels, moderate alcohol consumption is unlikely to have a significant impact.

A study published in Current Drug Abuse Review found that heavy or regular drinking over long periods can decrease testosterone levels in males. However, it is worth noting that acute alcohol intoxication was found to increase testosterone levels in women. Therefore, it is important to consume alcohol in moderation and be mindful of its potential impact on testosterone.

Vegetable Oils: Choosing the Right Fats

Certain types of fats, specifically polyunsaturated fatty acids found in vegetable oils, have been implicated in altering testosterone levels. However, it is important to differentiate between different types of fats and their effects. 

The type of fat we consume can influence testosterone levels and function. Research suggests that trans fats and excessive omega-6 fatty acids may negatively impact testosterone levels, while omega-3 fatty acids may have a positive effect.

A study published in the Asian Journal of Andrology found that trans fats, commonly found in processed and fried foods, may lower testosterone levels. On the other hand, polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, found in foods like fatty fish and flaxseeds, may increase testicle size and improve function. It is advisable to avoid trans fats and limit the consumption of vegetable oils high in polyunsaturated fats, while incorporating sources of healthy fats into your diet.

Mint: A Cautionary Herb

Mint, often consumed in the form of teas or added to various products, has been suggested to have an impact on testosterone levels. However, the research on this topic is limited and primarily focused on women and animal studies.

A study published in the Advanced Pharmaceutical Bulletin found that spearmint essential oil reduced testosterone levels in female rats with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). While this suggests a potential effect on testosterone, more research is needed to understand the impact of mint on men and testosterone levels.

Sugar and Transfats: Weight Gain and Testosterone

Excessive sugar consumption has been linked to various health issues, including obesity and diabetes. But can it affect testosterone levels? Research suggests a potential connection.

A 2018 study examining men aged 20 to 39 found that those who consumed large amounts of sugary beverages were more likely to have low testosterone levels. And another study involving men aged 19 to 74 found that consuming sugar resulted in a 25% decrease in testosterone levels, with levels remaining depressed for up to two hours. 

Furthermore, a recent review of studies found a link between high-calorie, high-sugar diets and lower testosterone levels in men. Therefore, reducing sugar intake and opting for a balanced diet with whole foods may support healthy testosterone levels.

Processed foods, particularly those high in trans fats and refined carbohydrates, have also been associated with lower testosterone levels. A 2018 study concluded that men who consumed high amounts of baked goods, bread, pastries, and dairy products had lower testosterone levels. Incorporating more whole, unprocessed foods into your diet may promote optimal testosterone levels.

Sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda and energy drinks, have also been linked to low testosterone levels.  High sugar diets have also been associated with increased testosterone levels in individuals with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition characterized by hormonal imbalances.

Licorice Root and Testosterone

Licorice root, often enjoyed as a tea, has been suggested to have anti-androgen properties that may reduce testosterone levels. However, the evidence remains limited, and more research is needed.

A review of 28 studies concluded that licorice root has weak anti-androgen properties and generally promotes healthy hormonal function in females and males. Although clinical studies involving humans are necessary to confirm the effects of licorice root on testosterone levels.

Nuts: Balancing Healthy Fats and Phytoestrogens

Nuts are a great source of healthy fats, but some varieties may also contain phytoestrogens, which can mimic estrogen in the body and potentially lower testosterone levels. While the impact of phytoestrogens on testosterone levels is not well-established, it may be prudent to limit the intake of nuts high in these compounds, such as pistachios and cashews.

The Less Well Supported Claims

Diet Soda: A Surprising Culprit

Although diet soda does not contain sugar, it can still have a negative impact on testosterone levels. A study found that men who consumed diet soda had lower testosterone levels than those who did not. Furthermore, the consumption of diet soda was associated with higher levels of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), a protein that binds to testosterone and renders it unavailable for use in the body. The catch however is that this study wasn't normalized for weight and other issues. And considering there's a pattern with fizzy soda in general, it could just be correlation. 

Low-Quality Meat: Hormones and Inflammation

The quality of meat consumed can impact testosterone levels. Low-quality meat often contains higher levels of omega-6 fatty acids, which can contribute to inflammation and disrupt hormone balance. Furthermore, low-quality meat may be treated with hormones, which can further reduce testosterone levels. Although again, this is largely speculative.

Flaxseed: Omega-3s with a Phytoestrogen Caveat

Flaxseed is rich in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, making it a popular health food. However, like nuts, flaxseed also contains phytoestrogens. Some animal studies have shown that flaxseed oil can decrease testosterone levels, but more research is needed to determine its effects on humans. If you have concerns about the impact of flaxseed on testosterone levels, you may choose to limit your intake or explore other sources of omega-3 fatty acids, we would suggest an algae based supplement if you're avoiding fish.

Microwave Popcorn: Chemicals and Hormone Disruption

Microwave popcorn, a popular snack, can have negative health effects due to the chemicals used in its production. One such chemical is perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which has been linked to lower testosterone levels in animal studies. Additionally, microwave popcorn is often high in unhealthy fats and calories, further impacting testosterone levels. 

Foods That Support Testosterone Production

While some foods may not have a significant impact on testosterone levels, there are others that have been shown to support testosterone production. Incorporating these foods into your diet can help maintain healthy testosterone levels. Let's explore some of the foods that have been associated with boosting testosterone.

Eggs: A Nutrient Powerhouse

Eggs are a nutritional powerhouse and a great source of various nutrients, including vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for testosterone production and overall health. Additionally, eggs are a complete protein source, making them an excellent addition to a testosterone-supporting diet. Especially seeing as it is the most common vitamin deficiency in the US and not getting enough vitamin d is liable to lower testosterone.

Fatty Fish: Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, are not only delicious but also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats have been associated with increased testicle size and improved testicular function. Incorporating fatty fish into your diet can provide the necessary nutrients to support testosterone production.

Lean Meats: Protein for Testosterone

Lean meats, such as beef and poultry, are excellent sources of high-quality protein. Protein is essential for testosterone synthesis and muscle growth. Including lean meats in your diet can provide the amino acids necessary for optimal testosterone production.

Black Beans: Plant-Based Protein

Black beans are a great source of plant-based protein and fiber. They also contain essential minerals, such as magnesium and zinc, which are crucial for testosterone production. Incorporating black beans into your diet can provide the necessary nutrients to support testosterone levels.

Oysters: Loads of Zinc

Whilst the myth of oysters being an aphrodesiac is largely just that (without accounting for the cultural placebo effect) the shellfish contains an awful lot of zinc, and this is a relatively common deficiency in older men which leads to lowered testosterone levels, so eating a few oysters now and then can keep your zinc topped up, thus helping maintain healthy test levels.

The Role of Overall Diet and Lifestyle Factors

While specific foods can have an impact on testosterone levels, it is important to consider overall diet and lifestyle factors. Maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet, along with regular exercise and stress management, can contribute to optimal testosterone levels. Additionally, factors such as obesity, chronic diseases like diabetes, and certain medications can influence testosterone production. 

What Foods Lower Testosterone?

When it comes to the impact of food on testosterone levels, it is crucial to separate fact from fiction. While some foods may have a minor influence on testosterone production, the notion of certain foods completely killing testosterone is unfounded. Incorporating a balanced diet, rich in nutritious foods like eggs, fatty fish, lean meats, avocados, and black beans, can support optimal testosterone levels.