When most of us image the specific foods that kick start our bodies into testosterone production, most people naturally assume hearty steaks, eggs or healthy fats like avocados & olive oil as the main testosterone drivers. While it’s true that healthy Omega-3 fats and healthy (HDL) cholesterol boosting foods trigger testosterone production, we often neglect the fact that certain key vegetables can also yield a sizeable impact on free testosterone in the body.
Remember, free testosterone differs from total testosterone as a much stronger biomarker for experiencing the many positive health benefits men with high levels enjoy. It is the free testosterone that flows free of being bound to albumin protein or SHBG that attaches to anabolic receptors in the body—creating an anabolic environment for muscle tissue to grow (hypertrophy).
Ingesting certain vegetables work in a very different way in naturally raising testosterone. Rather than raising good HDL cholesterol or raising magnesium, zinc, and creatine (like your favorite NY grass-fed steak), a regular intake of cruciferous vegetables works to raise you free testosterone by clearing excess estrogen in the blood stream.
Testosterone is a pro-hormone, meaning other hormones can e made from it, namely estrogen. Hence, each molecule of excess estrogen means less testosterone in the body. Further, estrogen actually signals the body to reduce testosterone production so the more estrogen you have the less testosterone will be produced.
While some estrogen is necessary for your health (bone health, hair, nails, etc.), many men (& women) today are swimming in excess bad estrogen that effectively nullifies the testosterone in the blood. Why, you ask? The in depth discussion of why men’s estrogen levels are higher than days past is for another blog post, but the basic answer relates to higher levels of aromatase enzymes (from higher average fat levels) as well as the high prevalence of xenoestrogens, endocrine disruptors, and other environmental contaminants prevalent in modern society. Collectively, these endocrine system disruptors can significantly increase the bad estrogens consumed or absorbed into the body. But, I digress—back to veggies!
While all veggies have an impact on health and nutrient intake, there is a special category of veggies that will literally change your life. The category known as cruciferous vegetables have been shown to contain a compound called indole-3-carbinol (I3C). This and other indoles have been shown to remove bad estrogens from our body, preventing more of our total testosterone from being drained by the excess estrogens often prevalent in today’s world.
As you may know, our total testosterone production, typically somewhere between 4 and 7 mg per day, becomes greatly reduced by many different biological functions within the body. What is left over after all the estrogen conversion, DHA metabolites, protein binding, and further reduced by sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) is the actual ‘bio available testosterone’ which we actually feel and experience. Sadly, the remaining free testosterone in the body is only 1-5% of the total testosterone produced by the body. This is why many men with seemingly normal total testosterone levels can have the symptoms of low testosterone if their free testosterone levels are diminished below normal.
The indoles in cruciferous vegetables are a great way to help clear excess estrogen and ensure we retain more of our total testosterone so we can enjoy the many positive effects (energy, libido, confidence, drive, mood, etc.).
Common cruciferous vegetables that are rich in these indoles are broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts, cabbage, and collard greens. Yes, these were all the vegetables I hated as a kid as well. If it’s been a while since you’ve incorporated these natural goodies into you daily regimen, I strongly recommend you play with some seasonings and reintroduce them into your diet (grass-fed butter, sea salt & pepper go a long way!).
If you are looking for some delicious recipes inclusive of the cruciferous vegetables above, check out my Testosterone Top-10 e-cookbook that comes included in my Testosterone-365 program.
Beyond the free testosterone benefits mentioned above, there is also new data discussing the correlation with some of these indoles with the prevention of estrogen-enhanced cancers (more on that here). This comes as little surprise if you are familiar with the growing connection between excess estrogen and tumor growth in the body.
For those of you carnivorous readers who maybe haven’t been on the veggie train in a while, below is a delicious, simple recipe that can work as a side to you next wild caught sockeye salmon:
NattyLife Perfect Veggie Side
3 cups of raw broccoli
2 cup of raw cauliflower
2 cups of brussel sprouts (cut in half each)
2 tbs of grass-fed butter (I like Kerrigold)
1 tbs of olive oil
Himalayan sea salt
Coarse ground black pepper
First, pre cut the broccoli and cauliflower into bite-size pieces.
Next, pre-heat the olive oil and grass-fed butter in a pan until very hot. Add the broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts halves into the pan and sauté on hot for 3-5 minutes. You want them hot and seasoned, but still mostly raw. Remember, overcooking the vegetables strips them of valuable nutrients and what would be the point?! Finally, sprinkle in the sea salt and black pepper while sautéing. You can also try others type of your favorite seasonings to help kick it up a bit.Take a photo and let me know how it works out. Mix and match the various vegetables so you can get a good mix of indoles into your daily diet. Tag me the picture of the result and I’ll post it on our instagram with a shout out!