Reviewed by Vicky Davis, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
What foods kill testosterone? We found a few you might want to avoid.
You may know that testosterone is a fairly important sex hormone. Made in the testicles, testosterone regulates your sex drive, fertility, fat distribution and muscle mass. Maintaining healthy testosterone levels is important not only for sexual performance but also for your quality of life and overall well-being.
Unfortunately, your testosterone levels decrease as you get older. Additionally, as many as five million men have testosterone deficiencies, according to an article published in the Boston University School of Medicine journal Sexual Medicine.
Fortunately, the effects of low testosterone and how to increase testosterone are being studied more often than they used to be. One way to increase testosterone may be through the foods you eat. So if certain foods boost testosterone levels, what foods kill testosterone?
Below, we’ve listed what foods kill men's testosterone, with the most recent scientific evidence behind each one.
What you eat and don’t eat can have a big impact on your health, including the hormones your body produces and uses.
Research has found that food and overall diet seem to have a direct impact on hormone production because your body uses various nutrients to produce hormones such as testosterone.
According to a 2021 study, men who ate a diet high in refined carbohydrates and saturated fats had lower total testosterone levels than those who ate less inflammatory foods.
Since issues like obesity can also affect testosterone levels, your diet has an indirect effect on your hormonal health. When you eat a healthy, balanced diet, you’re more likely to be able to maintain a healthy weight, resulting in optimal hormone levels.
But a balanced diet isn’t enough to treat low testosterone levels on its own. So while listing what foods kill men’s testosterone may be a bit dramatic, prioritizing the right foods — or avoiding others — may have a positive effect on your body’s ability to maintain healthy levels of testosterone.
Keep reading to learn what foods kill testosterone and why.
We know a healthy diet helps improve well-being in many ways — including possibly boosting testosterone production. But just as there are foods that benefit you, there are also foods that can hinder your health.
So, what foods kill testosterone?
Some research shows that regularly eating soy products like tofu, soy milk and miso may cause a drop in testosterone levels.
One small study of 35 men found that drinking soy protein isolate for more than 50 days resulted in decreased testosterone levels.
Soy foods are also high in phytoestrogens, plant-based substances that mimic the effects of estrogen in the body and alter estrogen levels — potentially reducing levels of testosterone.
Not only is more research needed to understand the effects of phytoestrogens, but other research has also found conflicting results, suggesting that soy-based foods may not have as much of an effect on testosterone levels.
A large review of 15 studies found that soy foods did not affect testosterone levels in men.
Still, more research is needed to understand how soy products may influence testosterone levels in men.
Enjoying alcoholic beverages in moderation won’t cause healthy testosterone levels to suddenly plummet. But overdoing it with drinking may be connected to low testosterone levels.
A study published in Current Drug Abuse Review found that heavy or regular drinking over long periods causes testosterone declines in males. Another small study also reported that acute alcohol intoxication was associated with decreased levels of testosterone in men.
Heavy drinking can also cause weight gain, which can further impact hormone levels.
The evidence isn’t completely clear on the adverse effects of excessive alcohol consumption on serum testosterone levels or sperm quality. More research is needed to understand how different doses affect testosterone levels, but low to moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages doesn’t seem to affect testosterone too much.
The types of fat you eat may have an impact on testosterone levels.
A study published in the Asian Journal of Andrology looked at the dietary patterns of over 200 men in Spain, particularly regarding how their food habits affected hormone levels and testicular function.
The research suggested that eating trans fats may lower testosterone levels in the body, while too many omega-6 fatty acids appear to reduce testicular size and function.
Polyunsaturated fats might also affect the production of testosterone — depending on the type. The study found that eating plenty of polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids may increase testicle size and improve function.
However, polyunsaturated fats — which are found in many of the most common vegetable oils, including canola, soybean, corn and cottonseed oil — may be detrimental to testosterone.
A 2019 study of overweight men with hypogonadism (failure of the testes to function properly) found that meals containing these fats significantly reduced serum testosterone levels.
More research is needed to determine the full effect of certain fats, but people who are worried about their testosterone levels may want to avoid vegetable oils and limit omega-6 fatty acid intake.
Maybe you drink peppermint tea to unwind after a long day or to ease digestion. But some studies suggest that mint may need to be added to the list of testosterone-killing foods.
According to a study paper in the Advanced Pharmaceutical Bulletin, female rats with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) were treated with spearmint essential oil, which reduced testosterone levels in these rats.
But since most research on mint and testosterone focuses on women or animal studies, further research is needed to know the effects of mint on men and testosterone.
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The foods you eat and don’t eat aren’t the only factor affecting your testosterone levels. There are a few other things that may influence hormonal imbalances or low testosterone.
Side effects from medication
Diabetes (a chronic disease resulting in high blood sugar levels)
If you’re concerned about your testosterone levels and believe your diet may be the culprit, here are some of the best foods for boosting testosterone. This guide on how to increase testosterone levels also goes into more detail about simple habits and lifestyle changes you can use for healthier testosterone production.
While a healthy diet is always a good idea, you should also consult with a healthcare provider to rule out any medical conditions or medication side effects that may be causing low testosterone.
They may also suggest testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), a treatment that can provide real improvements in testosterone levels. That said, it can also cause side effects such as a reduction in sperm count, prostate enlargement, sleep problems and heart health issues.
While there’s no one particular food that kills testosterone, eating a healthy diet can affect healthy testosterone production. And just as certain foods have more health benefits than others, some may belong on a list of what foods kill testosterone.
Soy products, alcohol, certain fats and mint may all have negative impacts on your testosterone production. However, more research is needed on all these foods to understand if they actually have a significant impact.
But it’s not specific foods that are directly linked to testosterone. Instead, there are essential chemicals that may affect testosterone within your body.
It’s best to think of your diet as one of many factors that might increase testosterone production rather than the sole cause of high or low testosterone levels. A healthcare provider can give you more insight if you’re dealing with low testosterone as well as the cause.