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June 15, 2020

Watch Out for these Foods that Lower Testosterone

More and more men suffer from symptoms of low testosterone, and more and more men are overweight and in poor health. Might there be a link between lifestyle habits and testosterone levels? Yes, there it is. And, to optimize your health and testosterone levels avoid these foods that lower testosterone.

Foods that lower testosterone
Photo by Adam Wilson on Unsplash

Before we get into these foods that lower testosterone, let’s recap the importance of testosterone. We have written several articles on this topic. Testosterone is a sex hormone present in all men, women, and children. It is a hormone responsible for secondary sex characteristics in men.

Testosterone plays a vital role in gaining and maintaining muscle mass and strength in men and women and sexual function predominately in men but also women to some degree.

Some of what you eat can sabotage your body’s ability to make testosterone or absorb it into the cells.

Foods That Lower Testosterone

That foods that can lower testosterone levels are below. Eating some of these food should always be a “no-no”. While some of these foods present a problem with lowering testosterone only when consumed on a regular basis.

  • Soy and soy products
  • Alcohol
  • Foods containing trans-fats
  • Omega-6 fatty acids
  • Mint
  • Licorice
  • Processed foods
  • Flaxseed
  • Nuts

The foods that one should avoid as much as are foods containing omega-6 fatty acids and processed foods. Even the usual recommendation of two alcoholic drinks a day may be too much when it comes to testosterone levels.

The other foods on the list have health benefits, but if consumed in high quantities can interfere with either testosterone production or utilization.


Some studies show that regular consumption of soy leads to decreased testosterone levels. Soy foods are high in phytoestrogens that mimic estrogen. Estrogen counteracts the effects of testosterone.

Other studies find no link between soy and testosterone levels. We think this one of those foods that can be consumed on a periodic basis.


There are health benefits to drinking wine, however excessive alcohol consumption does lead to lower testosterone levels especially in men. Consuming 30-40 grams of alcohol (2-3 drinks) has been shown to lower testosterone levels in healthy adults by nearly 7%.

Acute alcohol intoxication, however, is associated with a 28% drop in testosterone levels in men.

But, like with soy, some studies show no effect on alcohol and testosterone level. We recommend no more than 2 alcohol drinks a day but recommend not consume alcohol daily.

Foods Containing Trans-fats

Do not eat foods containing trans fats. There are no health benefits to trans-fats. Trans-fats get incorporated into the cell membranes making the membrane stiff and limiting the ability of the cell to bring necessary nutrient and gettin rid of wast products from cellular metabolism.

Trans-fats block the transportation of testosterone and other hormones from crossing through the cell membrane. One study showed that men who ate the highest amounts of trans-fats had 15% lower testosterone levels than those who ate the lowest amounts of trans-fats.

Trans-fats are hidden in a lot of processed and packaged foods. Foods can have a small amount of trans-fats and still claim to have “Zero trans-fats” on the label. So buyer be aware!

Omega-6 Fatty Acids

Omega-6 fatty acids are found in most vegetable oils including canola, corn, cottonseed, and soybean. These are polyunsaturated fats associated with decreased testosterone levels in several studies. Avoid omega-6 fatty acids as much as possible.


Mints have health benefits, but spearmint and peppermint may have a negative effect on testosterone levels. However, these studies were performed on animals and in women. These are probably foods that are not consumed in great quantities and we think it is safe consume them in “normal amounts.”


Some of what we call licorice does not contain real licorice. Licorice has been used to treat coughs and chronic pain.

One study in males showed that eating 7 grams of licorice root daily causes a 26% drop in testosterone levels and 3.5 grams of consumption of licorice root caused a 32% drop in testosterone in women.

Like mints, licorice in normal circumstances is probably not consumed in enough quality and frequency to present a problem with lowering of testosterone levels.

Processed Foods

Nowadays it is virtually impossible to avoid eating that comes in a bag, box, can, or jar. Such foods are heavily processed and high in sodium, trans-fats, and calories. See the trans-fats discussion above.


Flaxseed is generally healthy containing healthy fats containing the healthy omega-3 fatty acids. But, flaxseed is high ligans.  Ligans are plant compounds shown to bind testosterone in small studies.


Nuts are another food that are generally healthy, but walnuts and almonds have been shown to increase sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG). SHGB binds testosterone making it unavailable to be used by the cells.

We feel you do not need to avoid nuts but keep your consumption moderate.

While some of these foods that lower testosterone can be consumed periodically, we recommend avoiding as much as possible over-consumption of alcohol, processed foods, omega-6 fatty acids, and trans fats.

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Dr. Joe Jacko

Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio at Grandview Primary Care. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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