Testosterone is a sex hormone that plays a powerful role in health.
Maintaining healthy levels of testosterone is important to gain muscle mass, improve sexual function and increase strength (1).
Not to mention, alterations in testosterone levels have been associated with a number of health conditions, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and heart problems (2).
While many factors are involved in the regulation of testosterone, a healthy diet is key to keeping levels under control and preventing them from falling too low.
Here are 8 foods that reduce testosterone levels from which you may want to be careful.
Some research shows that regular consumption of soy products such as edamame, tofu, soy milk and miso can cause a drop in testosterone levels.
For example, a study in 35 men found that drinking soy protein isolate for 54 days resulted in a decrease in testosterone levels (3).
Soy foods also have a high content of phytoestrogens, which are substances of plant origin that mimic the effects of estrogen in your body by altering hormone levels and potentially reducing testosterone (4).
Although human-based research is limited, a study in rats showed that the consumption of phytoestrogens significantly decreased testosterone levels and prostate weight (5).
However, other research found conflicting results, suggesting that soy-based foods may not have as much impact as these isolated components of soy.
In fact, a large review of 15 studies found that soy foods had no effect on testosterone levels in men (6).
More research is needed to understand how soy products as a whole can influence testosterone levels in humans.
Summary Studies in animals and humans have found that certain compounds in soy-based foods can lower testosterone levels, but the research is not yet conclusive.
Perhaps the best known for its powerful soothing properties of the stomach, some research suggests that peppermint could cause a drop in testosterone levels.
In particular, it has been shown that spearmint and mint, two herbs that come from the mint family of plants, have a direct impact on testosterone.
A 30-day study of 42 women showed that daily consumption of herbal tea with spearmint caused a significant decrease in testosterone levels (7).
Similarly, an animal study found that administration of spearmint essential oil to rats for 20 days resulted in reduced levels of testosterone (8).
Meanwhile, another study in animals observed that consumption of mint tea altered hormone levels in rats, which led to a decrease in testosterone, compared to a control group (9).
However, most research on menthol and testosterone focuses on women or animals.
High-quality human studies focusing on both sexes are needed to assess how peppermint affects testosterone levels in both men and women.
Summary Some studies show that spearmint and mint can cause a decrease in testosterone levels, but research has so far focused on the effects on women or animals.
3. Licorice Root
Licorice root is an ingredient commonly used to sweeten sweets and drinks.
It is also a popular natural remedy in holistic medicine and is often used to treat everything from chronic pain to persistent cough (10).
In recent years, several studies have found that licorice can also influence hormone levels, potentially leading to a decrease in testosterone over time.
In one study, 25 men consumed 7 grams of licorice root daily, which caused a 26% drop in testosterone levels after just one week (11).
Another small study showed that licorice can also reduce testosterone levels in women, reporting that 3.5 grams of licorice daily decreased testosterone levels by 32% after just one menstrual cycle (12).
Keep in mind that this applies to licorice root instead of licorice candy, which often does not contain any licorice root.
Summary It has been shown that licorice root significantly decreases testosterone levels in both men and women.
4. Vegetable oil
Many of the most common vegetable oils, such as canola oil, soybeans, corn, and cottonseed, are loaded with polyunsaturated fatty acids.
These fatty acids are generally classified as a healthy source of dietary fat, but they can also lower testosterone levels, as several studies have suggested.
A study in 69 men showed that frequent consumption of polyunsaturated fats was associated with significantly lower levels of testosterone (13).
Another study in 12 men examined the effects of diet on testosterone levels after exercise and reported that the intake of polyunsaturated fats was related to lower levels of testosterone (14).
However, recent research is limited and most studies are observational with a small sample size.
More high-quality studies are needed to examine the effects of vegetable oils on testosterone levels in the general population.
Summary Most vegetable oils are rich in polyunsaturated fats, which has been associated with decreased testosterone levels in some studies.
Flaxseed contains healthy fats for the heart, fiber and several important vitamins and minerals.
In addition, some research shows that it can cause a decrease in testosterone levels.
This is because flaxseed is high in lignans, which are plant compounds that bind to testosterone and force it to be excreted from your body (15, 16).
In addition, flaxseed is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may also be related to a decrease in testosterone (17).
In a small study of 25 men with prostate cancer, it was shown that supplementation with flax seeds and a decrease in total fat intake significantly reduce testosterone levels (18).
Similarly, a case study reported that daily flaxseed supplements decreased testosterone levels in a 31-year-old woman with polycystic ovarian syndrome, a condition characterized by an increase in male hormones in women (16).
However, more large-scale studies are needed to further evaluate the effects of flaxseed on testosterone levels.
Summary Flaxseed is high in lignans and omega-3 fatty acids, which may be associated with reduced levels of testosterone.
6. Processed foods
In addition to being often high in sodium, calories and added sugar, processed foods such as convenience foods, frozen foods and pre-packaged snacks are also a common source of trans fats.
Trans fat, a type of unhealthy fat, has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and inflammation (19, 20, 21).
In addition, some studies have found that regular consumption of trans fats from sources such as processed foods could lower testosterone levels.
For example, one study in 209 men showed that those who consumed the highest amounts of trans fat had testosterone levels 15% lower than those with the lowest intake.
In addition, they also had a 37% lower sperm count and a decrease in testicular volume, which may be linked to reduced testicular function (22, 23).
Studies in animals have also found that a high consumption of trans fat could decrease testosterone levels and even impair reproductive performance (24, 25).
Summary Processed foods are often high in trans fat, which has been shown to lower testosterone levels and affect reproductive performance in human and animal studies.
While enjoying an occasional glass of wine with dinner has been linked to health benefits, studies show that excessive alcohol consumption can cause testosterone levels to plummet, especially in men (26).
A study in 19 healthy adults showed that consuming 30 to 40 grams of alcohol per day, equivalent to approximately 2 or 3 standard drinks, decreased testosterone levels in men by 6.8% for three weeks (27).
Another study reported that acute alcohol intoxication was associated with an increase in testosterone in women, but lower levels in men (28).
However, the evidence is not completely clear when it comes to the effects of alcohol on testosterone.
In fact, both human and animal studies have had mixed results, with some research indicating that alcohol may increase testosterone levels in certain cases (29, 30).
More research is still needed to understand how different doses of alcohol affect testosterone levels in the general population.
Summary Some studies have found that alcohol consumption can lower testosterone in men, but research has shown contradictory results.
Nuts are a great source of many important nutrients, including fiber, heart-healthy fats, and minerals such as folic acid, selenium, and magnesium (31).
In addition, some studies suggest that certain types of nuts can lower testosterone levels.
A small study in 31 women with polycystic ovary syndrome showed that walnuts and almonds increased levels of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) by 12.5% and 16%, respectively (32).
SHBG is a type of protein that binds to testosterone, which can cause a decrease in free testosterone levels in your body (33).
Walnuts are also generally high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, which have been associated with reduced levels of testosterone in some studies (13, 14).
Despite these findings, more research is needed to determine how certain types of nuts can affect testosterone levels.
Summary One study found that walnuts and almonds increase the levels of SHBG, a protein that binds to testosterone in your body. Walnuts are also high in polyunsaturated fats, which may be related to lower levels of testosterone.
The bottom line
Changing your diet is one of the most effective ways to maintain healthy testosterone levels.
If you are concerned about low testosterone levels, exchanging these testosterone-depleting foods and replacing them with healthy foods, whole-food alternatives can keep the levels under control and improve your overall health.
In addition, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, getting enough sleep and exercising in your routine are other important steps you can take to increase testosterone naturally.
Reference: https: //www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-that-lower-testosterone