Does Broccoli Increase Testosterone?

In the world of nutrition, few vegetables have managed to spark as much controversy as broccoli. While some individuals swear by its nutritional benefits, others cringe at the mere sight of its florets. However, recent studies have shed light on an unexpected connection - the potential of broccoli to increase testosterone levels in men. But is this claim just a myth or is there some scientific truth behind it? 

The short answer is actually yes there is a little bit of science to back it up, the longer answer is most supplements involving broccoli for testosterone are not actually following any of the relevant science at all.

And unfortunately most of the studies have been done on animals, meaning we really can't be too sure that broccoli helps. There's a couple of potentially interesting compounds in broccoli, but the volume of them you'd need would mean that you'd need to supplement them specifically, even if they do transfer to humans. 

Of course there are some vitamins in broccoli and generally following a healthier diet in general can improve testosterone [1].

There are much better herbal extracts if you're looking to support testosterone production, but let's get into where all this broccoli and testosterone talk comes from.

The Science Behind Broccoli and Testosterone

Broccoli has long been regarded as a nutritional powerhouse, packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Recent studies have explored its potential effects on testosterone levels and reproductive function in animals although there's little in humans. Let's examine the key findings from these studies that shed light on the relationship between broccoli and testosterone.

Broccoli Extract Supplementation

There have been some animal studies of broccoli, but, in terms of straight broccoli extracts there are relatively few human trials. One of the more recent trials to show broccoli's impact on testosterone levels came from a recent 2021 study conducted on male mice [2]. The study examined the interactions between broccoli extract, which contains a combination of compounds and nutrients, and the testicular function of the mice. The results were promising, indicating that regular supplementation with broccoli extract can offer several benefits:

  • A significant increase in serum testosterone levels
  • Increased sperm count
  • Improved sperm viability and motility

While these results were obtained from animal subjects, meaning that they probably won't do nearly as much in humans, there's also the issue of dosage quantities being particularly large. Meaning it would change effective delivery options for humans. 

We're talking 300mg/kg of body weight. keep in mind capsule supplements normally top out at 1000mg. [3] Meaning most people would need 21 capsules of broccoli powder. That said it could function well in a greens powder drink.

However, when it comes to particular compounds in broccoli we have a bit more to look at. [4]

Compounds Found In Broccoli That Affect Testosterone

Magnesium: A Boost for Testosterone

Magnesium is a mineral that plays a crucial role in various bodily functions, including the production of testosterone. Numerous studies have shown a positive correlation between magnesium levels and testosterone levels. [5] In fact, higher magnesium levels have been associated with elevated testosterone levels. And low magnesium being a cause of low testosterone along with other vitamins like zinc and vitamin D. This is why magnesium features in a lot of mens testosterone supplements

Broccoli is an excellent source of magnesium, with an average of 21 mg per 100 grams [6]. Although you need a lot more than this daily (410mg), that's not an insignficant amount.

As low magnesium can cause testosterone levels to drop incorporating broccoli into your diet, can help maintain adequate magnesium levels, which may contribute to higher testosterone levels. 

Indole-3-Carbinol: Breaking Down Estrogen

To understand how broccoli may increase testosterone levels, we need to delve into the role of estrogen in the body. Estrogen, a sex hormone, is produced by an enzyme called Aromatase, which converts testosterone into estrogen. As such having less estrogen typically means that we have access to more usable testosterone which we refer to as "free testosterone". 

The process of converting testosterone is natural, as men need some estrogen too, but this can accelerate with age. In turn leading to higher than optimal estrogen levels [7] and lower testosterone levels. Indole-3-carbinol, a compound found in broccoli, acts as a negative regulator of estrogen. [8] It breaks down estrogen, thereby increasing free testosterone levels.

Indole-3-carbinol also currently being studied for a host of potential benefits to womens health particularly when it comes to ovarian issues.

Now, you're not going to get enough of this from eating brocolli, as you usually get 27mg from half a cup [9] of it and you'd need more than 200mg for it's effects. Although you could eat 5 cups a day if you really wanted to, it's not particularly practical. The compound is in some other green veg (and onoins), but we wouldn't recommend optimizing a diet for indole-3-carbinol, as there are far more effective ways of raising testosterone levels through diet. The same issue will apply to the flavanoids we look at shortly. 

Flavonoids: Stimulating Testosterone Production

Broccoli contains two flavonoid compounds, quercetin, and kaempferol, [4] which have shown promise in increasing testosterone levels. These flavonoids stimulate the Leydig cells in the testes, which are responsible for testosterone production. 

Although again there isn't much in the way of human trials, the mechanisms in which they work are well known and other flavanoids have been shown to have these effects. 

Kaempferol for Testosterone

Kaempferol has been shown to activate the cAMP-dependent protein kinase A (PKA) pathway, which plays a crucial role in regulating testosterone synthesis. Activation of this pathway helps your body produce steroidogenic enzymes. [10]

Quercetin's Effect on Testosterone

So, again we're looking at rat studies, but, ultimately Quercetin has 2 roles in which it impacts test levels, it's an anti oxidant, meaning it prevents oxaditive stress damage, and it does seem to do so in the testes and has had an impact in protecting Leydig cells, increasing test production. [11]

Broccoli and Sleep

You may be wondering what this has to do with broccoli increasing testosterone, but better sleep generally increases testosterone levels. [12] And broccoli is a source of both melatonin and tryptophan [13] (although the amount can vary wildly based on the soil it's grown in from next to nothing, to enough to make a difference). This could of course also have an impact on test levels as both of these compounds help regulate sleep. [14] But, there have been studies that have shown broccoli to improve sleep, [15] so maybe there's something in that. 

Unveiling the Truth: Does Broccoli Increase Testosterone?

Based on the evidence presented, it is clear that broccoli does have some connection to testosterone. Although, how much of that is simply because it's healthy in general is up for debate. A couple of the compounds specifically can be useful in higher doses than you're going to get by simply eating broccoli, particularly Indole-3-carbinol for reducing estrogen and adding to free testosterone levels. 

Beyond the presence of Indole-3-carbinol the Magnesium in broccoli should have an impact. 

As for the flavonoids in broccoli there's some limited scientific support for its potential to boost testosterone production, but it's unlikely to be in large enough doses from simply consuming the vegetable. However, it is important to note that further human-focused trials are needed to strengthen the legitimacy of these benefits.


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