Time to add these foods to your grocery list.
By The Good Men Project — Updated on May 20, 2023
Photo: silverkblackstock / Shutterstock
By Dr. Alison Chen ND
Was there a time you seemed to always have a throbbing erection? Was it in high school? College?
As men age, their hormonal levels change and there is a natural dip in testosterone, approximately 1% each year starting at age 30. But this doesn’t mean your libido has to suffer.
Testosterone is the primary hormone that boosts the male sex drive. And although nutrients like vitamin D, zinc, and BCAAs can improve testosterone, limiting or blocking xeno-estrogen absorption is just as important.
Sex hormones — mainly estrogen and testosterone — work like a seesaw. One hormone can convert to the other and vice versa to find balance. Having some of both is essential. However, synthetic forms of estrogen (aka xeno-estrogens) have a stronger effect than the natural estrogens the body produces or the estrogens found in foods (aka phytoestrogens–i.e., soy, hops).
Similarly, the FDA cautions against the use of synthetic testosterone products due to the possible risk of heart attacks and stroke. This is why blocking xeno-estrogen absorption and eating natural testosterone-boosting foods will help get your libido back up in a healthy and safe way.
Scientific research supports these eight common foods to effortlessly improve the male sex drive.
Here are 8 surprising foods that’ll get him in the mood every time:
1. Brussels Sprouts
All cruciferous vegetables, including Brussels sprouts, have healthy phytochemical compounds that block estrogen activities. Not only that, these little nuggets are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Eat more cruciferous vegetables: Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, bok choy, collard greens, turnip, and rutabaga.
It’s true! Beef can improve testosterone levels and get you excited about sex. For every 6 oz. steak, you get 11 mg of zinc. Zinc is important for hormone regulation but also supports a healthy immune system, fights against oxidative damage, and improves the quality of sperm.
Grass-fed beef is also an excellent source of protein, iron, and B vitamins.
Flax seeds are a major source of lignin and phytoestrogens, which significantly reduces the effects of xeno-estrogens. Studies have shown that high levels of these dietary lignans are associated with a lower risk of chronic disease and act as powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.
Flax not only benefits male testosterone levels but also prostate cancer, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and digestive issues. Flax is a healthy source of fat and fiber that can be easily added to any shake, salad, or cereal.
Other healthy lignin-packed foods: Sesame seeds, curly kale, broccoli, apricots, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, and dark rye bread.
4. Cheddar cheese
As long as you are not sensitive to cow dairy, cheddar cheese is a great source of protein (including branched-chain amino acids – BCAAs), zinc (3.5mg), and vitamin D (27 IU). Consuming BCAAs with high-intensity exercise has been shown to increase testosterone while decreasing the risk of injury, illness, and cortisol levels.
Interestingly, cortisol is a stress hormone with conflicting effects on male and female libido. Preliminary research has shown that women are less sexually aroused with stress, while high cortisol increases male sexual drive. However, despite men having more sexual desire, stress has been found to negatively affect sexual performance.
Other sources of BCAA’s: Cottage cheese, sour cream, eggs, yogurt, wheat, ricotta cheese, whey protein, and meat.
The folk tales are true! Oysters are a great aphrodisiac because they are a rich source of zinc, even more than beef. One oyster (3 oz.) contains 74mg of zinc, which is 495% of the recommended daily value. Research explains that zinc deficiency is very common and significantly decreases testosterone levels, even in healthy young men. So, start shucking those oysters to boost your libido.
Other zinc-rich foods: Beef, lamb, fish, raw milk, beans, legumes, and oats.
6. Herring Fish
This tiny fish is jam-packed with vitamin D (214 IU per 100g). Vitamin D deficiency is common in the winter months for people living far from the equator. Vitamin D is a cholesterol-derived steroid hormone that is crucial for bone strength, mental health, and balancing testosterone levels.
Direct sun exposure is the most common way to increase vitamin D levels, but there are also foods and supplements to give men a boost. Other sources high in vitamin D: Sardines, cod, caviar, eggs, and fortified dairy products.
A diet full of healthy oils and fats can increase testosterone levels and improve sperm quality. Fresh avocados are a great source of healthy fats, mix them with some raw garlic, onions, tomatoes, and lime juice to create a nutrient-packed guacamole snack.
Other healthy oils and fats: Fish, almond, walnut, brazil nut, extra virgin olive oil, argon oil, coconut, hemp, flax, and sesame.
These little antioxidant and anti-cancer seeds pack a lot of punch. Pomegranates are one of the richest zinc-containing fruits, and although they can’t compare to beef or oysters, they have many benefits for prostate health.
Other potent antioxidants: blueberries, strawberries, wheat grass, red grapes, nuts, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, garlic, green tea, and tomatoes.
But let’s not forget other factors that help boost testosterone and male libido:
exercisehealthy stress management (i.e., meditation)decreasing body fatadequate sleeplimiting xeno-estrogen exposureherbal medicineeating a Mediterranean diet with low glycemic index carbohydrates
Hormonal issues are often complex. Your low sex drive may be a sign of something more important going on.
Have you been suffering from any of the following?
Chronic poor libido (>six months)erectile dysfunctioninfertility (>one year)problems with urinationdepression or anxietyimpaired concentration or memorychest painbreast enlargements
If so, please visit your primary healthcare physician to get individualized medical support.
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Dr. Alison Chen ND is a writer and winner of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine’s Humanitarian Award.