Nuts and Testosterone: Surprising Effects on Androgens
By Ali Kuoppala | Last reviewed Tue 25 September 2018
Medical Review by Dr. Vlad Belghiru, MD
Oh nuts. The tasty nutrient rich fat bombs.
Are they good or bad for testosterone production though? That’s the flaming question we (for some reason) get asked a lot.
The answer is yes, and then also no. Whether nuts increase or decrease (or make no difference) on your testosterone levels, is obviously dependent on the type of nuts you consume.
Even though we’re not big fans of limiting/avoiding certain types of foods, in this article you’ll learn the science behind nuts and their effects on hormones, as well as what are the best types of nuts for testosterone boosting diet and what are the worst.
Let’s get at it:
Everything about Nuts and Testosterone Levels
Generally speaking, nuts are considered pretty healthy.
Few studies have linked increased nut intake with reduced cardiovascular disease risk, reduced oxidative damage markers, and even improved brain function.
Many nuts are also high in fiber, contain some beneficial amino acids (like arginine which probably explains the cardiovascular health benefits), and are a good source of several micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).
So yes, in general we don’t disagree, nuts can be fairly healthy when looking at the big picture.
However, when it comes to hormone levels, and especially the production of testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT), most nuts are not as good as one could imagine.
This is because;
- For an unknown reason, some nuts (almonds and walnuts at least) have been found to increase SHBG levels by 10-20%. Since SHBG binds to free-testosterone and DHT, rendering them “inactive”, this would mean that nuts may reduce androgen bioavailibity.
- Many types of nuts are incredibly high in polyunsaturated fatty-acids (PUFAs) and increased intake of PUFA has been well-proven to lower testosterone levels via increased oxidative damage in storage tissues.
- Most nuts are dense in phytosterols, some consider this as a benefit since phytosterols compete with the bodily cholesterol and reduce its levels, but the thing is that all off our natural steroid hormones are made from cholesterol and high intake of phytosterols can interfere with this.
Now does this mean that all nuts are to be banned? No. Some may actually benefit testosterone levels, and for most of the others, the benefits can outweigh the minor negative hormonal effects.
Below, we have gathered an small list of nuts that should benefit testosterone production and nuts that could harm it, with of course, explanations as to why we believe that is the case.
Nuts that can beneficially impact testosterone levels;
- Macadamia nuts (very high in T-boosting monounsaturated fats, contains only 2% polyunsaturated fatty-acids).
- Brazil nuts (high in pro-testosterone micronutrients zinc, boron, selenium, magnesium, not overly high in polyunsaturated fats).
- Tiger nuts (at least in rodents, tiger nuts have been found to dose-dependently increase testosterone levels, mechanism is unknown)
Nuts that can negatively impact testosterone levels;
- Pistachios (one study shows how a diet rich in pistachios reduced testosterone levels in men, likely due to high phytosterol content).
- Walnuts (very high in polyunsaturated fatty-acids and have been shown to increase SHBG levels, rendering some of free- inactive).
- Almonds (relatively high in polyunsaturated fatty-acids, likewise have been shown to raise SHBG and thus should lower free-testosterone).
- Peanuts (fairly high in polyunsaturated fats, very high in beta-sitosterol which has been shown to lower 5-a enzyme and DHT levels).
Some nuts favorably affect testosterone levels, others can decrease the levels of the male hormone.
General rule of thumb is that the higher the phytosterol content and PUFA of the nuts, the worse it is for male hormones, but if the nuts are low in both and contain plenty of T-boosting micronutrients, they can be very beneficial for male hormones.
With that being said, we’re not the type of guys who preach food paranoia and tell people to avoid certain foods or even complete macronutrient groups. If you feel like eating nuts, eat some freaking nuts 😉