June 5

Foods that Decrease Testosterone

(Foods that Decrease Testosterone, written by David Jaynes)greasy food

Building testosterone is like any other change to your body. Exercise and activity can make a difference, but what you eat does 80% of the job.

You may already know what foods to eat and supplements to take to boost hormones, but some other foods have the opposite effect…

They reduce your testosterone if you eat them too often.

Here’s our list of the foods that decrease testosterone: why they’re bad, and what you can eat instead.

1: Beer


Alcohol of all kinds reduces testosterone if you drink too much of it, but beer is the worst offender because of compounds found in the yeast and hops used to brew it.

Why It’s Bad

Science has yet to pinpoint the exact mechanics of how alcohol reduces testosterone, but we know for certain that it does.

Some studies (see below) seem to indicate that it increases estrogen production at the expense of testosterone.

They’ve also found a correlation between heavy drinking and other lifestyle choices that reduce testosterone in men.

How We Know

Three landmark studies have demonstrated this link between alcohol consumption and low testosterone:

  • A 1987 study of rats and alcohol found not only that alcohol decreased testosterone, but that the decrease corresponded directly to the amount of alcohol the rats consumed (source).
  • Research into the hormone production of alcoholics vs. non-alcoholics in 2006 found that chronic drinkers had significantly more estrogen and less testosterone than light drinkers, who had more estrogen and less testosterone than non-drinkers (source).
  • In Finland in 2013, researchers discovered that half a glass of vodka after a workout cancelled out the testosterone-improving benefits of that exercise.

Try This Instead

First, the good news. The alcohol-low testosterone link is dose-dependent. That means you can have a pint or two a week without wrecking your testosterone.

You can do better, though, by choosing your booze with care. Beer is the worst for your testosterone. Red wine or clear spirits are probably your best choices.

2: Factory-Farmed Meat


Good testosterone production relies on many nutrients found in beef and other meats. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to get your carnivore on.

Why It’s Bad

Red meat (for example) is good for testosterone…

But in factory farm conditions, that red meat is saturated with antibiotics, growth hormones, and other nasties that can wreak havoc with your testosterone production.

How We Know

Way back in 1994, Dr. Soto and his team at Tufts University in Boston tested to see if the estrogen-increasing and testosterone-reducing impact of chemicals injected into factory farm livestock “passed through” to humans who ate it.

They found that not only did it pass through from livestock to human, but also the chemicals sprayed on plants the livestock ate also passed all the way through to humans who consumed the meat (source).

And over the last 20 years, the use of factory farming methods and chemicals to treat livestock and feed plants alike has only increased.

Try This Instead

Source your meat from local, organic, cruelty-free farms that explicitly avoid factory farming methods.

This will cost a bit more for each meal, but it costs less than testosterone treatments.

Plus it’s good karma.

3: Mint

Mint plant

There’s a lot of different mint products out there, from mint teas to those little cans of breath mints you take on a first date.

You’ll find it in soaps, cough drops, shampoos, and toothpastes. It smells and tastes nice, but isn’t so nice to your testosterone. 

Why It’s Bad

The science isn’t exactly settled, but as far as researchers can tell, spearmint causes “oxidative stress” to the hypothalamus (a part of your brain responsible for regulating hormone production).

That damage seems to make the hypothalamus reduce how much testosterone it tells the testicles to make, which directly reduces the amount of testosterone in your body.

How We Know

A 2008 study at the Indian Institute of Technology in Uttarakhand gave different doses of mint extract to rats, then examined the blood for testosterone and other indicators of testosterone production (source).

They found that rats who took the mint extract had significant reductions in testosterone itself.  The mint also reduced sperm density in the rodents.

This study was followed up by a human trail done on women with excessively high androgen levels.

When the women were given two cups of mint tea a day for five days, they experienced…

A significant decrease” in Free Testosterone levels”

Try This Instead

Start by avoiding mint-based cleaners, and personal hygiene products. (mint toothpaste is okay if you spit and rinse).

Opt for citrus bases instead. It has the same clean, cutting aroma without causing hormonal problems.

As for foods, it’s easy to just eat other stuff and leave mint sprigs out of your recipes. They’re a garnish for almost everything that’s not Christmas-themed anyway.

4: Flaxseed and Flaxseed Products

Flaxseed is the new kale.

The health benefits have gotten overblown in the popular media, and it seems everybody is adding a bit of it to everything.

Flax is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have a variety of health benefits…but they’re outweighed by what flax can do to your testosterone production. 

Why It’s Bad

Flaxseed, unlike other sources of omega-3 fatty acids, carries just a ton of lignan compounds.

We’re talking 800 times as much as other options. Lignans, as it turns out, are one of the most estrogenic things you can put into your body.

“Estrogenic” means “makes your body produce extra estrogen.” Which is the opposite of what you want when you’re trying to boost your testosterone.

How We Know

Most of what we know about flaxseed and testosterone comes from research into treating conditions related to testosterone in the body.

Two studies are great examples:

  • In 2008, cancer researchers at the University of Texas used flaxseed supplements in an attempt to reduce testosterone in men with prostate cancer. They found that after 30 days, testosterone production dropped significantly.
  • The following year, a team at Duke university used lignans in an attempt to help a woman with excessive facial hair, hoping to reduce her levels of the testosterone causing the hair growth. The treatment dropped her free testosterone levels by 89% (source).

Try This Instead

This one’s simple: get your omega-3 fatty acids someplace else.

Good sources include salmon, sardines, eggs, beef, halibut, and anchovies. Vegetarians and vegans can get theirs from spinach, kale, winter squash, and walnuts.

5: Pesticide-Heavy Produce


This one’s like factory-farmed meats. It’s not the produce itself that causes a problem. It’s the crap they spray all over the produce, which then gets into your system and disrupts hormone production. 

Why It’s Bad

Farms use pesticides to drive away or kill bugs that would eat up their product…

Those pesticides aren’t washed off as effectively or completely as you would want, leaving their compounds to roam free in your body once you eat them.

Those chemicals can cause a whole range of health issues, and reduced testosterone is among them.

How We Know

Remember that study about factory farm chemicals passing through livestock and into the humans who consumed them?

Remember the part in that study that showed the chemicals passed from plants into livestock, and then into people?

Dozens of other studies confirm this finding for the direct route of produce to people.

Those studies proved what humanity has known for centuries: don’t put nasty things on your food, then eat that food.

Try This Instead

Spend the extra cash and only buy organic fruits and vegetables.

6: Soy of All Kinds


If you’re into healthy eating, you’ll bump into soy on a regular basis.

It’s a cheap crop to grow but until very recently, Americans had no interest in eating soy, until the soy lobby started spending millions of dollars making health claims about the bean.

Unfortunately, testosterone production / erectile function are not among those benefits.

Why It’s Bad

Soy contains phytoestrogenic compounds, that act in a similar fashion to estrogen in the human body. The theory goes that putting them in your body would have the same impact as ingesting pure estrogen.

How We Know

Research has looked into this pretty deeply, since a lot of people eat soy and sexual health is a popular topic.

For example, a 2008 study by Dr. Basak’s team at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center looked at the relationship between those phyto-estrogenic compounds and androgen receptors in adult men (source).

They found that those compounds didn’t directly increase estrogen. Instead, they tricked the body into “thinking” it already had enough testosterone, thus making the body produce less in response.

Try This Instead

If you want to eat soy because it’s a “healthier” source of protein, I recommend going for wild caught fish, pastured eggs or  grass-fed beef instead .

These avoid the issues brought on by soy, and are known to boost testosterone production as well.

If you’re a vegetarian, life is a little harder since your protein options are drastically reduced. Seeds and nuts can provide some of your proteins, but throw in as many beans as you can stand.

7: Certain Types of Oils & Fats

Not all oils are bad for testosterone, and some oils are good for general health, but you want to specifically avoid oils that are liquid at room temperature.

Most of these are too high in omega-6 fatty acids, and too low in omega-3s. They also come in clear bottles, leading to oxidation of the oils themselves. As that oxidation starts to turn them, they become more harmful to your body.

Why It’s Bad

These oils — mostly vegetable oils — are rich in polyunsaturated fats. These fats are the only kind of fat known to reduce testosterone production.

How We Know

Although much research before and after has confirmed or built on its findings, the landmark study for this was performed in 1997 by a team at Pennsylvania State University (source).

In this study of twelve men, they gave different subjects one of the four kinds of dietary fat prior to exercise.

They then tested blood testosterone after the workout and compared it to levels in the same men before they consumed the various fats

Their findings were just what I mentioned above. Monounsaturated fats and saturated fats all increased post-workout testosterone levels.

Only polyunsaturated fats reduced them.

Try This Instead

A small set of cooking oils are richer in the fats that increase testosterone: avocado oil, coconut oil, palm oil, and olive oil.

Use them instead of soy, cotton, flax, corn, and other polyunsaturated fats.

Foods that Decrease Testosterone – Conclusion:

Your mission (should you choose to accept it) is to cut as many of these foods out of your diet as you are willing to. Replace them with the foods I recommend above.

You’ll see better results if you eliminate the estrogenic foods and put more pro-testosterone herbs and foods into your diet.

Its like increasing your bank account: spending less OR earning more both work, but combining the two delivers optimal results.

Finally, if you’re a tea drinker, make sure you read this.

About the Author Mark

Article edited by Mark Wilson. Mark currently owns 5 sites in the men's sexual health niche and has published more than 5,000 articles and blog posts on dozens of websites all over the world wide web.

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