Whether you’re a girl or a guy, if you’re trying to get fit, you’re in the testosterone-boosting business. (Unless you have polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, in which case your body produces too much testosterone.) Testosterone gives us energy, builds muscle, and heightens our libido. It also helps protect our bones and brains — all good stuff. Some foods can help increase this helpful hormone — here’s how you can take advantage of them.
- Add some garlic and onions to your meals. A study conducted with rats found that garlic coupled with a high-protein diet increased testosterone levels. Allicin, a phytochemical found in garlic and onions, may also inhibit cortisol, which can compete with testosterone and interfere with its normal function.
- Get more niacin in your diet. Niacin, a B vitamin, has been shown to boost HDL cholesterol (the “good” kind), high levels of which have been associated with high levels of testosterone. Niacin is found in many foods, including dairy products, lean meats, poultry, fish, nuts, and eggs.
- Choose healthy vegetable fats. Vegetable fat intake has been shown to increase dihydrotestosterone, a form of testosterone responsible for the growth of body hair. Just take it easy on the soybean, corn, safflower, and sunflower oils — instead get your vegetable fats from heart-healthy canola and olive oils.
- Eat zinc-rich foods. These include oysters, Dungeness crab, beef, pork, dark-meat chicken and turkey, yogurt, cheddar cheese, cashews, almonds, baked beans, and chickpeas. One study found that restricting zinc in healthy young men led to a 75 percent reduction in their testosterone, while supplementing zinc-deficient older men doubled their testosterone.
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