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5 Foods That Increase Testosterone Levels and 5 That Lower Its Production

Susanna Sisson's picture
Salmon tuna for testosterone

Testosterone is a hormone found in both males and females although women tend to have much lower levels. Testosterone levels are highest between onset of puberty and about age 30 then begin to decline by about 1% each year after. Testosterone imbalances can affect both men and women physically and emotionally and certain foods can help with these imbalances. This article discusses five foods that increase testosterone levels and lower testosterone production.


For men an imbalance of testosterone can have serious effects in the body and affect sex characteristics as they age.

Low testosterone can cause changes in sex drive, lower sperm production, affect the ability to get and maintain an erection and even affect sex characteristics such as muscle mass, hair growth, voice and fat distribution. Some men with very low testosterone may have gynecomastia or breast growth. Other changes that may take place are fragile bones, decreased body hair, fatigue, and hot flashes. Men who take testosterone shots or have implants may have lower HDL level which is considered a risk factor in heart disease. Low testosterone can effect sleep and cause insomnia. Depression whether associated with sleep disturbance or as a primary diagnosis is possible.

High testosterone levels are associated with aggression and impulse control. One study, conducted by researchers at Caltech, the Wharton School, Western University, and ZRT Laboratory tested the hypothesis that higher levels of testosterone increase the tendency in men to rely on their intuitive judgments and decreased their ability to reflect when making decisions. The study included 243 males who were randomly selected to receive a dose of testosterone gel or placebo gel before taking a cognitive reflection test. Their findings indicated that men who received testosterone were more impulsive and scored lower on math tests given as a control tool.

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Also see Men's Health: 5 Common Genital Conditions Involving the Scrotum and Testes.

Hormone balancing can be a bit like walking a tight rope, however, in addition to hormone supplements, there are natural ways to balance testosterone.

Foods that increase testosterone levels

  1. Salmon and Tuna– Fatty fish is high in Vitamin D which can raise testosterone levels by lowering Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG).
  2. Grapes – Grapes contain a compound in their skin that raises testosterone levels. Researchers in China found the equivalent of 500mg – roughly the amount in 5-10g of grape skins – was enough to raise testosterone levels.
  3. Exotic meats – According to nutritionists, diets without enough protein can lower testosterone by as much as 14%. However, too much saturated fat can also lower testosterone. The solution is to eat protein that is low in fat and yet high in protein like venison, bison, alligator, rabbit and goat. So when you think protein think “exotic”. One of my favorite burgers is a buffalo burger because it’s tasty, low in fat and high in protein.
  4. Eggs – Cholesterol found in the yolk of the egg is a precursor to testosterone so, your body will actually benefit from eating eggs. Recently a study at the University of Connecticut found eating up to 3 eggs a day was safe for most people. Read more here.
  5. Garlic – If you suffer from stress or stress related illnesses, then chances are you have high levels of cortisol. Garlic contains a compound called allicin that lowers levels of the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol. Once your cortisol levels are under control your testosterone levels should rise.

Foods that lower testosterone production

  1. Flaxseed – Flax seeds contain a compound called lignans which increase levels of SHBG and lower testosterone levels.
  2. Alcohol – Alcohol, especially in high amounts raises estrogen levels and lowers testosterone.
  3. Soy and fenugreek – Soy and fenugreek are known phytoestrogens and in some countries are used to increase milk production and as a natural contraceptive. Soy can also lower uptake of iodine and disrupt thyroid function which is the leading cause of testosterone suppression in men.
  4. Trans-fats – Trans-fats are found in many processed foods. Eat real food should be your motto. The good news is a nationwide ban on trans-fats by the FDA which will be in place by 2018 will nearly eliminate dietary trans-fats. However, with statistics and research indicating a major risk of heart attack and stroke in addition to their effects on testosterone, you may not want to wait.
  5. High Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA) – Most oils with the exception of coconut, palm, avocado, olive oil and butter contain high amounts of PUFAs and can lower testosterone levels. The oils highest in PUFA are safflower, sunflower, corn, soybean, cottonseed and canola and should be avoided.