Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Testosterone is an incredibly important hormone responsible for numerous functions. These include the development of reproductive tissues in men such as the testes and prostate, and is associated with sperm production levels. But while this may be the primary sex hormone in men, testosterone is not found exclusively in one sex over others.
This hormone promotes secondary sexual characteristics too, including muscle mass, bone mass and hair growth. In all people, testosterone impacts mental health and moods, can influence behavior and play a role in the prevention of osteoporosis. Therefore, it’s naturally a little scary to learn that with age, we begin to decrease our production of testosterone.
Thankfully, not only are there medical treatments available to measure, balance and regulate hormone levels, but some foods can also play a role. If you’re suffering from serious hormonal imbalance issues, we don’t recommend relying on dietary solutions alone. However, it may be incredibly helpful to support your medical interventions with a few good-for-you foods. If you’re in need of a testosterone boost, speak to your doctor about supplementing your treatment with some of the clean eats listed here:
Pomegranate for Reduced PSA
Prostate specific antigen (PSA) is a blood marker for prostate cancer. Men whose PSA levels double in a short period of time have a higher risk of death from prostate cancer. But pomegranate appears to slow PSA increases. In a study published in Clinical Cancer Research, 1 cup of pomegranate juice per day significantly reduced PSA doubling time after surgery or radiation among men with prostate cancer. Studies show pomegranate extract can slow the growth of prostate cancer cells. It may also lead to apoptosis – or cell death – in cancer cells.
Get the recipe: Lime Pomegranate Chicken Breasts with Herbed Farro
Spinach is rich in magnesium. This can lower the body’s levels of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), a protein that binds to free testosterone and makes it inactive. In a study published in the International Journal of Andrology, boosting magnesium intake resulted in a 24% increase in free-testosterone levels. Optimal magnesium status has also been linked with higher testosterone levels in observational and intervention studies. Other foods rich in magnesium include pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, Swiss chard, halibut and almonds.
Collard Greens for Lower Prostate Cancer Risk
Collard greens are one of the best dietary sources of vitamin K. This essential vitamin protects prostate health. In one study of over 11,000 men, high intake of vitamin K2 was linked to a 63% lower risk of prostate cancer.
Get the recipe: Roast Jerk Chicken with Mango Sauce & Collard Greens
Tuna for Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Tuna is high in omega-3 fats, which have powerful immune-enhancing and anti-inflammatory effects and may reduce the risk of prostate cancer. (Though one study suggested omega-3 fats increased prostate cancer risk, that research has been largely discredited.) Eat tuna sandwiches with a slice of avocado, and you’ll increase your prostate protection: Avocados are rich in both vitamin E and lutein, a carotenoid antioxidant. Both the vitamin E and lutein in avocado have been shown to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells.
Get the recipe: TLT Lettuce Wraps
Vitamin-D Loaded Mackerel for Increased Testosterone Levels
Mackerel, a fatty fish, is one of the best food sources of vitamin D. Studies have shown vitamin D can increase testosterone levels, often dramatically. In a study conducted at Medical University of Graz in Austria, people who spent more time in the sun showed increased levels of both vitamin D and testosterone. In a follow-up study, men who took vitamin D daily saw an average increase of testosterone levels by almost 25%. The sun is still the best source of vitamin D. But if you don’t get outside much – or don’t love fatty fish – you’ll find D in pork, beef liver, caviar and eggs.
Try a Clean Eating mackerel recipe: Warm Potato Salad Niçoise
Pumpkin Seeds for Improved Urinary Function
Pumpkin seeds can help prevent benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). This is a common condition that enlarges the prostate gland and can cause problems with urination and, occasionally, sexual function. In several studies, pumpkin seed oil reduced symptoms of BPH, improved urinary function in men with overactive bladders and improved quality of life.
Get the recipe here: Pumpkin Gnocchi with Creamy Pumpkin Spinach Sauce
Oysters To Replenish Testosterone
Oysters are the number-one food source of zinc, which blocks the enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen. Deficiencies are linked to low testosterone, and boosting zinc leads to a significant increase in testosterone levels. Zinc is especially important if you work out, since intense exercise can deplete testosterone. In a study published in Neuroendocrinology Letters, wrestlers who took zinc daily maintained testosterone levels after a month of high-intensity training. Other good sources include red meat, chicken, crab, lobster, beans and nuts.
Ginger for a Testosterone Boost
In addition to reducing inflammation, ginger may also increase testosterone levels and improve sexual function. In a controlled study conducted on men undergoing infertility treatment, published in the International Journal of Reproductive BioMedicine, researchers found that ginger helped decrease levels of sperm DNA fragmentation (lower levels are linked to improved fertility and less chance of miscarriage). Animal studies have found testosterone levels nearly doubled after ginger intake; as the amount of ginger increased, so did testosterone levels. However, further studies on humans are needed to verify the testosterone-doubling benefits.
Get the recipe: Vietnamese Pork & Noodles with Ginger Lime Sauce
Lycopene-Packed Tomatoes to Reduce Prostate Cancer
Tomatoes are loaded with lycopene, an antioxidant that’s been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Better than eating them raw, cook them with olive oil (as in pasta sauce). Research shows the absorption of lycopene is greatest when tomatoes are cooked with olive oil. And add some chopped broccoli to that sauce. In a study published in Cancer Research, researchers noted “the combination of tomato and broccoli was more effective at slowing tumor growth than either tomato or broccoli alone.”
Get the recipe: Smoky Tomato-Baked Chicken with Baby Potatoes
We independently source all of the products that we feature on cleaneatingmag.com. If you buy from the links on our site, we may receive an affiliate commission, which in turn supports our work.