Foods that May Help Boost Your Estrogen and Testosterone Levels

Janet Tiberian Author
By Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES
February 9, 2016
Foods that Help Boost Hormones

During a woman’s transition into menopause, a period often referred to as perimenopause, her progesterone, testosterone and estrogen levels begin declining. This raises a woman’s risk for CAD (Coronary Artery Disease) because estrogen increases good cholesterol (HDL), decreases bad cholesterol (LDL), relaxes blood vessels and absorbs free radicals in the blood that can potentially damage blood vessels, according to Cleveland Clinic. 

As a man enters his 40’s, he begins experiencing andropause, an age-related decrease in testosterone. A man usually has a one percent drop in testosterone every year after age 40, according to Mayo Clinic. Research published in Nature linked low testosterone levels with CAD risks such as obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, as well as an overall risk for cardiovascular disease.

Here are three approaches that can be taken that may help improve estrogen and testosterone levels:

  1. Eat foods that naturally boost levels
  2. Adjust lifestyle behaviors 
  3. Talk with your physician about therapeutic replacement 

Foods that Can Help Raise Estrogen and Testosterone Levels

Studies conducted by the Linus Pauling Institute of Oregon State University indicated that eating plant-based foods that contain phytoestrogens may help women raise estrogen levels, such as:

  • Seeds: flaxseeds and sesame seeds
  • Fruit: apricots, oranges, strawberries, peaches, many dried fruits
  • Vegetables: yams, carrots, alfalfa sprouts, kale, celery
  • Soy products: tofu, miso soup, soy yogurt
  • Dark rye bread
  • Legumes: lentils, peas, pinto beans
  • Olives and olive oil
  • Chickpeas
  • Culinary herbs: turmeric, thyme, sage

Results from research conducted by the University of Texas at Austin suggested that men can help raise their testosterone levels by eating foods high in monounsaturated fat and zinc. Also, a study published in Biological Trace Element Research concluded foods high in magnesium can help maintain testosterone levels, for instance:

  • Oils: olive, canola and peanut (monounsaturated fat)
  • Avocados (monounsaturated fat and magnesium)
  • Olives (monounsaturated fat)
  • Nuts: almonds and cashews (monounsaturated fat, zinc and magnesium)
  • Oysters (zinc)
  • Wheat germ (zinc)
  • Shellfish: lobster and crab (zinc)
  • Chickpeas (zinc)
  • Oatmeal (zinc)
  • Kidney beans (zinc)
  • Raisins (magnesium)
  • Dark green leafy vegetables (magnesium)
  • Bananas (magnesium)
  • Low-fat yogurt (magnesium)

Lifestyle Behaviors that Help Raise Estrogen and Testosterone

Additional tactics you can try to naturally boost your estrogen and testosterone levels include: 

  • Control stress - When stressed, your body releases cortisol, a hormone that can elevate estrogen levels to an unhealthy level, leading to estrogen dominance. It also can trigger the pancreas to over produce insulin. Too much insulin leads to insulin resistance, raising the risk for weight gain, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Cortisol also lowers the production of testosterone. Here are some tips to help you manage stress.
  • Exercise – Anaerobic activities -- high intensity activities that are short in duration but require a burst of energy -- such as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), heavy weightlifting and calisthenics can help raise estradiol. And strength training activities like lifting weights, using resistance bands and body weight training can help raise short- and long-term testosterone levels. Make sure you consult your physician before beginning or revamping a fitness program. 

Therapeutic Replacement

To help offset the potential health problems associated with low hormone levels, scientists developed Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for women and Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) for men. However, various journals have published conflicting articles concerning the risks and benefits associated with HRT and TRT. 

For instance, a study in the British Journal of Medicine suggested that HRT lowers the risk of heart disease; whereas, research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association linked HRT with heart disease and breast cancer. As general guidance for the medical community, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends living a heart-healthy lifestyle and using HRT for specific medical conditions

Additionally, articles published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and PLOS ONE reported an increased risk for heart attacks and strokes among men who began using TRT. Meanwhile, authors of an article published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Therapeutics and a review in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that TRT contributed to maintaining heart health. Experts at Harvard Men’s Health Watch explained that evidence supporting the heart-health benefits of TRT is mixed, and the long-term effects are not fully understood yet.

​Aside from maintaining appropriate hormone levels, you can also lower your risk of CAD by working with your MDVIP-affiliated physician to make sure you are taking advantage of all the benefits offered in the practice. Your annual wellness services include a comprehensive heart and stroke screening assessment, and if necessary, advanced cardiac tests.

The results of these screenings and tests are used to help create your customized heart-healthy action plan. Additionally, your physician can work with you to help improve your lifestyle habits, e.g., managing weight, exercising, controlling stress and quitting smoking. Don’t have an MDVIP-affiliated physician? MDVIP has a nationwide network of physicians. Find one near you and begin your partnership in health.

This content was last reviewed February 2022.

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About the Author
Janet Tiberian Author
Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES

Janet Tiberian is MDVIP's health educator. She has more than 25 years experience in chronic disease prevention and therapeutic exercise.

View All Posts By Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES
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