Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone, and having low levels affects men quite negatively.
As a fitness trainer for over a decade, I’ve seen many people reach for unsafe and illegal means, like steroids, to deal with this issue.
However, certain foods can be one of the healthiest ways to combat low testosterone levels effectively.
Over the years, I’ve spent hundreds of hours examining various foods, their nutritional profiles, and their potential to increase testosterone levels.
And recently, I’ve refreshed my knowledge with an endocrinologist specializing in nutrition.
- Foods that increase testosterone levels include; bananas, onions, fatty fish, ginger, eggs, extra virgin oil, honey, leafy greens, and avocados.
- Alcohol, soy products, dairy products, trans fats, mint, and pastries are meals that may lower your testosterone levels.
- Healthy testosterone levels, boost the production of red blood cells, boost sperm count, and help increase muscle mass.
13 Best Testosterone-Boosting Foods
1. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish such as salmon and sardines are excellent for boosting T-levels.
Additionally, they’re also a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (which help keep your heart healthy) .
If you don’t like the taste of fish, you can also take omega-3 or fish oil supplements to boost testosterone, as one recent study found that the intake of fish oil supplements was associated with better testicular functioning, which is essential for producing testosterone .
Even animal studies replicated these results, indicating fish oil supplementation improves semen quality and serum testosterone levels .
If you’re overweight or suffer from obesity — something that can cause your testosterone levels to drop significantly — dietary supplementation of fish oil may help you raise your levels .
Examples of oily fish include the following:
Ginger is one of the most versatile plant foods.
From medicine to cooking to improving fertility in men, it’s one of the most widely available and potentially testosterone-boosting foods.
It does this by supporting the production of:
- Follicle-stimulating hormone - which helps control sperm production
- Luteinizing hormone (LH) - which signals the testicles to produce testosterone
Additionally, other research shows that dietary ginger might enhance testosterone production by encouraging various testosterone-boosting mechanisms .
That’s why we advise all new clients, especially those who are overweight and obese, to add ginger to their diet.
Daily supplementation of 4 grams is usually more than enough to make a difference .
3. Oysters and Shellfish
Oysters and shellfish are treasure troves of zinc, as they contain more zinc than any other food .
And zinc is an essential element for reproductive function and sperm health .
Research shows that men with zinc deficiency may develop impotence and hypogonadism (a condition in which their bodies don't produce enough testosterone) .
In younger males, it can even lead to delayed sexual maturation .
All of these are symptoms of low testosterone.
However, oyster meat is quite expensive in most places (especially in the US), so it’s still beneficial even if you have it once in a while (as long as you’re eating other foods to boost your testosterone levels).
Eggs can increase testosterone production and are one of the most inexpensive sources of protein, making them a highly sought-after food for bodybuilders.
Eggs are rich in vitamin D, which makes them potentially very beneficial for men suffering from low testosterone levels.
Additionally, vitamin D is also essential for maintaining strong bones and enhancing your immune system, all of which add to improving your T-levels .
“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.”
- Dr. Kristin Gillespie, Certified Nutrition Support Clinician
5. Fortified Plant Milk
A study from Hormone and Metabolic Research found that vitamin D is an essential nutrient that can have a positive effect on men’s testosterone levels .
Plant milks such as soy, hemp, almond, and flax are usually enriched with a good deal of vitamin D per serving.
However, it's best to check the label before making a purchase.
6. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Participants of this study also experienced an increase in LH, which is responsible for stimulating cells in the testes to produce testosterone.
The study’s results found that drinking pure pomegranate juice increased salivary testosterone levels by 24%.
Pomegranates can also act against mechanisms that negatively affect testosterone levels.
For example, pomegranates can protect against obesity-induced inflammation .
And consistent good workouts on their own can result in natural testosterone increase .
9. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and swiss chard are excellent testosterone boosters for vegans and vegetarians.
The key testosterone-boosting component in these foods is magnesium .
There are some other excellent sources of magnesium  such as:
- Whole wheat
- Dark chocolate
- Black beans
Another popular testosterone-boosting food that's highly popular in the US is avocado.
A half-cup serving of avocado contains 1.07 mg of boron, which exceeds your minimum daily requirement .
Scientific evidence shows that boron may benefit testosterone levels; however, more research is needed to understand how it does so .
Avocados are also rich in magnesium, which we’ve seen above, is linked to healthy T-levels.
Onions are an excellent food that increases the production of LH, which, as we've seen before, is responsible for producing testosterone in males .
However, most studies on the testosterone-boosting effects of onion were done on animals.
More research needs to be done with human trials. Nevertheless, onions have several other health benefits that could indirectly boost your testosterone levels.
12. Cocoa Products
Cocoa products, like cacao nibs and cocoa powder, are high in flavonoid antioxidants and magnesium, both of which may help increase testosterone levels.
The flavonoids in cocoa — quercetin and apigenin — may stimulate the Leydig cells of your testicles to increase your testosterone levels .
In addition to being an excellent testosterone booster, cocoa is also very palatable, so it’s easy to incorporate into the diet for most people.
Related Article: Does Dark Chocolate Boost Testosterone
Honey is rich in the mineral boron, which is associated with increased testosterone levels, building strong bones, enhancing muscle growth, and improving cognitive abilities .
A spoonful of honey can be too much of a flavor burst for a more sensitive palate.
So, we recommend eating honey with other foods (preferably testosterone-boosting foods) to make it more palatable.
Foods and Habits To Avoid
There are certain foods you should avoid because they may lower your testosterone .
Here’s the list:
- Soy products
- Dairy products
- Trans fats
- Licorice root
- Pastries and desserts
There are some other habits to avoid for maintaining healthy testosterone levels .
The most impactful ones are the following:
- Avoid consuming tobacco products and alcohol binging
- Manage your stress levels
- Avoid pain medication and opioids
- Avoid excessive weight gain or obesity (preferentially through exercise)
Related: Does Pineapple Boost Testosterone?
Why Are Healthy Testosterone Levels So Important For Men?
Healthy testosterone levels are important for men because they help regulate sexual function, promote bone health, control fat distribution, and increase muscle mass, strength, sperm count, and red blood cell production, among many other health benefits .
Because it’s the primary male sex hormone, low testosterone levels in men can lead to a host of health problems .
Here are some of the most common symptoms of low testosterone:
- Decreased muscle mass and strength
- Increased body fat
- Deteriorated bone health
- Enlarged breast tissue (gynecomastia)
- Depressive mood swings
- Shrinking testicles
- Reduced sex drive and male reproductive health
What Are Some Ways to Increase Testosterone Levels Naturally?
Here’s how they help:
- Get plenty of sleep: Getting quality sleep at night is one of the best ways to raise testosterone levels. This is because most of your testosterone production occurs when you’re asleep .
- Exercise regularly: Regular exercise is known to increase your levels of free testosterone over time .
- Natural testosterone boosting supplements: Natural testosterone boosters are a safe and effective way to boost your T-levels. Unlike steroids, natural testosterone boosters supplements work by enhancing your body’s natural ability to increase testosterone.
How Fast Will Testosterone-Boosting Foods Increase My T-Levels?
Testosterone-boosting foods will increase your T-levels in a matter of weeks. Additionally, this will depend on various factors such as how low your T-levels currently are, how much you work out, your lifestyle, etc.
Can Eating Testosterone-Boosting Foods Increase Your T-Levels Like Steroids?
No, eating testosterone-boosting foods won’t increase your T-levels like steroids because they both work differently. T-boosting foods increase your body’s natural testosterone levels.
Steroids work as an external source of testosterone.
What Are Optimal Testosterone Levels For Men?
Optimal testosterone levels for men will primarily depend upon your age. Most doctors agree that a normal reading falls between 300 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) .
What Should I Do If Testosterone-Boosting Foods Don’t Work For Me?
If testosterone-boosting foods don’t work for you, you should visit a doctor and figure out if you need testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). This is usually administered in the form of gels, patches, pellets, or injections. It can improve signs and symptoms of low T-levels in men .
Does Coconut Oil Increase Testosterone?
Yes, coconut oil increases testosterone levels, primarily because some evidence is emerging that saturated fatty acids, particularly the medium-chain triglycerides in coconut butter, promote testosterone production.
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