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8 Foods That Lower Testosterone Levels

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Most foods are not universally good or bad. Many are actually good for one aspect of your health, but detrimental in another. This is why you need to think twice about foods that are generally touted as healthy. There are actually healthy foods that lower testosterone. Be mindful of this when making your next supermarket trip. It’s not just the cupcakes and Pepsi you need to keep out of your shopping cart.

The eight items below are foods that increase estrogen or lower androgen through some other means. Be warned: Some items on this list will shock you!

Watch Out for These Testosterone-Lowering Foods

1. Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds are commonly listed as one of nature’s “superfoods” that are chock full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. We don’t deny that flaxseeds hold some amazing benefits. From a testosterone standpoint, though, they’re a guy’s worst nightmare.

What’s wrong with a food that’s supposed to be so good? Flaxseeds contain high traces of lignans. This polyphenol has some benefits for women, such as reducing breast cancer risks. However, studies have also proved the compound to be extremely estrogenic.

If maximum testosterone is your goal, keep flaxseeds out of your smoothie, cereal, salad and out of your pantry altogether. The seeds by themselves are flavorless anyways, so you’re not missing out on anything tasty.

2. Protein

We’ll give you some time to take in the shock and disbelief.

How can protein, a staple macronutrient in the bodybuilding diet, lower testosterone? We were just as shocked as everyone else, but the proof is in the pudding with the latest scientific findings.

The studies show that subjects’ testosterone levels decreased as their protein consumption increased. Protein is hard for the body to digest. Too much protein stresses the body, causing cortisol levels to rise. If you have been around the bodybuilding community, then you know cortisol is the arch-nemesis of testosterone gains.

On the subject of the dreaded stress hormone, consider adding a supplement to reduce cortisol.

A 1987 study published under Life Science confirmed that a higher ratio of carbohydrates to protein raised testosterone and lowered cortisol, while a higher ratio of protein to carbohydrates had the opposite effect.

We’re not suggesting you throw out your $50 Nitro-Tech whey protein powder. Just know that you don’t need to gobble insane amounts of protein in any form. A general recommendation of .8 to 1-gram per pound of bodyweight should suffice.

3. Mint

Many people consider mint a flavoring rather than a food. Regardless, it’s another testosterone killer. In a study, rats that consumed peppermint tea saw a 23 percent decrease in testosterone. Rats that drank spearmint tea fared even worse, decreasing their T levels by an astounding 51 percent.

We know some people are naturally skeptical about rat studies and whether the results really transfer to human subjects. There is actually a human study where women with abnormally high testosterone levels were able to decrease their T levels by 30 percent over a five-day period after drinking spearmint tea.

4. Licorice

Who would have thought that Twizzlers are among the foods that lower testosterone? The problem with licorice is that it contains the ridiculously hard to pronounce compound glycyrrhetinic acid. This is what gives licorice its flavor; it’s also been shown to block testosterone production in the Leydig cells of male rats.

Once again, if you’re unconvinced by a rat study, then consider this human study published by the New England Journal of Medicine. Human men that consumed licorice saw a near 50 percent drop in testosterone levels in just four days.

An image of a man wearing sunglasses and eating a slice of pizza.

5. Vegetable Oils

Vegetable oils are bad because they are high in polyunsaturated fats. These have weak chemical bonds that break apart or become denatured when cooked or exposed to a heat source. Denatured vegetable oil is toxic for the body.

When it comes to oil use, stick to extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil. These are high in saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, both of which are invaluable for boosting testosterone. Too much polyunsaturated fats does the opposite.

6. Soy

This one is mostly common knowledge. If you love soy milk, tofu and bean curds, then we suggest you find another alternative. Soy is the king of foods that increase estrogen. There is no shortage of studies that confirm this. Most studies that prove otherwise are paid research by soy companies. In addition from being estrogenic, soy is also goitrogenic, meaning that it interferes with normal thyroid function. A poor functioning thyroid is another known cause of low testosterone.

7. Wine

Wine is kind of in the grey area. Of the foods that lower testosterone, we believe this is definitely lower on the avoidance list. Like protein, it comes down more to the quantity of consumption. In moderation, wine has some healthy benefits. For one, red wine contains resveratrol, which has been shown to have estrogen-blocking properties.

What’s really in question is the alcohol. Depending on your weight, two to three glasses won’t hurt you. If you drink to the point of a hangover, on the other hand, then expect your androgen levels to take a hit.

A study published under the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism confirmed that excessive alcohol intake has a negative effect on the male reproductive system and testosterone synthesis.

8. Nuts

More precisely, only some nuts are bad. The bad ones include walnuts, almonds and peanuts. The latter two, by the way, aren’t even technically nuts. These nuts have a higher polyunsaturated to monounsaturated fat ratio. As already mentioned, the former is bad news for testosterone production. These varieties also contain SHBGs, which bind to testosterone and DHT.

Not all nuts, though, are equal in their nutrient profile, so it depends on the variety. Some of the better nut choices include macadamias, horse chestnuts, and brazil nuts. These have higher monounsaturated fats than they do polyunsaturated fats.


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Ryan Tronier

Ryan Tronier is a writer and editor who has worked with NBC, ABC, and USA Today.
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